Luke Evans dives deep in psychological horror film ‘Ma’

Luke Evans starred as Gaston in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. The movie has grossed over $1.25 billion worldwide and has become one of the top 10-highest-grossing films of all time.  

He’s best known for playing Bard the Bowman, the hero of Peter Jackson’s multi-billion-dollar franchise, The Hobbit, as well as the title character in Universal’s Dracula Untold and Owen Shaw in Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise.

Now, Evans stars in Universal Pictures’ new suspense thriller Ma, opposite Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (The Help, The Shape of Water).

At the heart of the unnerving psychological tale from Blumhouse Productions—the company that has produced such smash hits as Get Out, Split, Glass, Halloween and The Purge franchise—is a mysterious, lonely woman named Sue Ann (Spencer) who seems harmless at first. Friendly but stern, she offers safe harbor to a group of high-school friends looking to party. But Sue Ann is a woman tormented by demons and trauma from her past, and, unbeknownst to her teen guests, she has a more sinister agenda than anyone suspects.

Evans plays Ben, who runs a successful security company and a man of privilege, and it shows. He is father to Andy, one the high-school students befriended by Sue Ann.  Ben is proud of Andy but keeps close tabs on him.

“I don’t think Ben ever wanted to leave his small town, or if he did, those ambitions and dreams were suppressed and are gone now,” Evans says. “He’s a guy who’s just getting on with his life. He tries to be a good dad and works hard.” He’s also a man with a cruel side, however, and his secret history with Sue Ann will threaten the safety of his son, his girlfriend, and himself.

“This is quite an interesting thriller,” Evans says. “This story is psychologically dark and deep, but also has its light moments. It’s not just a film to shock, scare and draw you in, but it also makes you laugh in all the wrong places. Ma is twisted and thought-provoking. There’s a lot of emotional reality in how Ma feels. At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt the way Ma does; we just don’t act on it the way she does.”

Ma is Evans’ second collaboration with director Tate Taylor, who cast the actor in The Girl on the Train. “Tate’s so much fun, and ours feels like a collaborative experience,” Evans says. “When Tate told me Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Missi Pyle and a bunch of talented kids were attached to this movie, I thought, ‘Ok, it’s a no-brainer.’”

And getting to work with Spencer, especially in this kind of role, was thrilling, Evans says. “Watching Octavia have her moment to do something out-of-character from the roles she’s played in the past was refreshing,” he says. “The audience is going to absolutely lap it up.”

His director admires Evans’ eagerness to jump in wherever and whenever needed: “Luke is a phenomenal actor and a really good friend,” says Taylor. “Actors like Luke are so smart. He has huge parts and big franchises, but he loves the art of acting and was willing to come join us.”

In Philippine cinemas July 10, Ma is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #MaMovie  

Luke Evans swaggers as Gaston in live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Welsh actor Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) smashes his way to playing Gaston, the shallow and arrogant villager intent on marrying Belle (Emma Watson) in Disney’s live-action fantasy adventure, Beauty and the Beast.

A former War hero, Gaston holds court in the village tavern and has every eligible woman in town wrapped around his finger. Smitten with Belle, who is strong-willed and impervious to his charms, Gaston becomes consumed by rejection and jealousy and leads a mob of villagers to the Beast’s castle to rescue Belle and kill the Beast.

For the role of the egotistical village heartthrob, the filmmakers were concerned the part would be difficult to cast. With a popular character like that from the 1991 animated film, it was important he transitions into a human character the audience would find believable in a real-world environment. The screenwriters bestowed Gaston with some new characteristics to make him appear more contemporary and credible, fashioning him to be a war hero who saved the town from invaders and someone who is easily provoked. Director Bill Condon explains, “With a short temper, he can easily lose control when anyone or anything crosses him, which became an interesting way to take something that was cartoonish and turn it into something real.”

As a bonus, Luke Evans is even an accomplished vocalist, having starred in a number of West End stage productions, and Gaston has a substantial amount of singing in the film.

Luke Evans agrees, saying “I come from the world of musical theatre so I feel very passionate about telling a story with music and lyrics, and what these geniuses did back in 1991 was tell a story which was very, very old and make it appeal to everyone. It has left a lasting impression on many generations of filmgoers.”

“Here’s the thing about Luke Evans,” says Condon. “He has all the qualities that are right for Gaston but he has this other thing which comes from years of working on a stage and which is so important to have in a movie musical, and that’s the joy of performing. This is a role he was born to play.”

In discussing his character Evans says, “Gaston doesn’t see the world the way everyone else sees it. He’s at the top of the pyramid and everyone else is below him. He thinks he can do no wrong and does not understand why Belle does not want to be his wife. I mean, God, is she mad? Is she blind? Is she stupid? He doesn’t get it, which is funny in and of itself, so I really tried to play up the comedic aspects.”

About BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Directed by Bill Condon and based on the 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast, the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. The film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 16, 2017, Beauty and the Beast is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Philippines. #BeOurGuestPH

Luke Evans, Justin Theroux, Edgar Ramirez star in ‘The Girl on the Train’

Luke Evans (“Fast & Furious” franchise), Justin Theroux (“The Leftovers”) and Edgar Ramirez (“Deliver Us from Evil”) provide the masculine presence in the female-centric tale, “The Girl on the Train” from Paramount Pictures. The film also stars Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett.

Based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel, “The Girl on the Train” is directed by Tate Taylor (“The Help”) and adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson. In the film, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.

To cast the two key male roles was just as crucial, according to producer Marc Platt. “It’s interesting to be involved in a film that’s so female-centric,” he says. “Usually, it’s the guys who are more complicated and then there’s the ‘girl’ role, and our challenge here was to develop characters that wouldn’t just be the ‘boy’ role in a film about the women. The story is also very much about the men.”

To play the role of Tom, a father caught between his new wife and an ex who is deteriorating into the madness of addiction, the filmmakers cast Justin Theroux, who can currently be seen starring in the hit series “The Leftovers.”

For Theroux, “The Girl on the Train” is all about appearances. He describes: “It’s set in this suburban place, just upstate, just outside of the city. So there is that picket-fence element to it, and wondering what’s behind those perfect little shutters and curtains.” For a passenger peering into the homes she passes by, however, the view becomes more intimate. “There’s something about looking into people’s backyards that is almost more invasive. You are literally seeing their dirty laundry hanging out in the back; you’re not seeing what’s presented in the front.”

The actor hits upon a theme that readers of Hawkins’ work frequently note: The main character’s addiction adds a curious element to Rachel’s trustworthiness. “It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense,” says Theroux. “It’s seen through the lens of a human problem. No one believes the least reliable witness: Rachel.”

For the role of Scott, the second object of Rachel’s obsession, the filmmakers cast Luke Evans, who is known for roles in “The Hobbit” series, as well as the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

Evans admits he became quite the fan of the complex characters in Hawkins’ novel, one he found to be a gripping page-turner. “When I began the book, I didn’t want to put it down,” he gives. “I’m not surprised it’s done as well as it has. The whole story is about an inquisitive human being who creates chaos because of her curiosity, and it’s enthralling.”

The Welsh performer found Rachel’s obsessions fascinating, and he quickly agreed to portray one of the key figures who populate her world. He describes Scott as a man who’s in a tempestuous relationship with Megan (Haley Bennett), and a jealous husband who inevitably becomes a suspect when she disappears. “He’s questioning a lot about himself and about the women in his life, and how they’ve treated him,” the actor says. “So there’s a lot of anger and mistrust.”

Rachel’s need to find out what happened to Megan leads her to visit the missing woman’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic, whom Rachel—and the cops—suspects may have been involved in her disappearance. As the story unfolds, we learn that the relationship between Abdic and Megan was much more than doctor and patient. “There is this wonderful cat-and-mouse quality to what happens between Megan and her doctor,” says Bennett. “She is a lonely, broken woman who lures him in. He takes the bait.”

To play Dr. Abdic, the filmmakers cast Édgar Ramírez, known for his roles in such films as “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Deliver Us from Evil.”

“Kamal Abdic is a man of few words,” offers Ramírez. “He loves to listen to these women because he is also fascinated, or a little turned on, by their despair. He listens to all their stories, but he genuinely falls in love with Megan. There’s a special sense of innocence in her, and he knows that she uses sex as a way to connect.”

Initially posing as a patient to learn what she can about Abdic, Rachel opens up to the doctor, revealing more than she ever intended. She describes her heartbreak at not being unable to have a child, subsequent divorce and alcohol-induced blackouts. “Abdic is the only one who listens to the secrets,” the Venezuelan actor adds. However, he pays the price for crossing the line with his patients. “He knows everything about what’s going on, and ironically, is the first one who becomes a suspect.” He pauses, “We cross lines because we feel lonely, and we are longing for connection.”

Opening across the Philippines on October 5, 2016, “The Girl on the Train” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.