Luke Evans Explains the Backstory for His Gaston in ‘Beauty and the Beast’
For many of us, the main draw of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast is Luke Evans’ dangerously handsome Gaston. The classic Disney villain arguably has the best song in the entire original movie, and probably the snazziest outfit of all the Disney baddies. While Belle got a bit of a character upgrade for the new movie (she is now the inventor, instead of her father, because director Bill Condon figured the townspeople need more of a reason to think she’s weird than… she reads books), Gaston also got one too, and it very well might make you like him a little.
Evans spoke with Entertainment Weekly about updating Gaston for the movie:
I saw massive potential to create backstory and layer him up with intention and objectives. The fact of the story is that Gaston is a war hero and an army captain, and the only reason he’s got this celebrity status in Villeneuve is because when he was about 16, he protected the town from a pack of Portuguese marauders in 1740.
Don’t ask me, but that sort of s--- went on in France quite a lot. [Laughs] Villages and towns were besieged, they lost their mayors, but he defended them. But if you’re 16 and doing that, you might be suffering from a little PTSD. So we played it dark. When I first met [director Bill Condon] he asked me to play him darker. There was a lot of anguish inside him, bubbling away. And he wasn’t happy that Belle had rejected him. Instead of being this petulant pouting child needing to be fluffed up by his fans in the tavern, there was a much darker side to him.
This makes a ton of sense, and gives Gaston a depth he didn’t have otherwise in the original. The animated Gaston is still fantastic, but for a live-action movie it’s a good idea to give characters like this a backstory that grounds them more in reality. And making Gaston a pretty okay dude makes his inevitable turn to villainy even more frightening.
Also, the best villains are not villains from the beginning. They turn into villains. He probably does suffer from PTSD, which he manages to keep under wraps because he has people like the villagers and LeFou and the girls who puff him up and make him feel sexy and wanted. But below that is a broken human being. He’s jaded, and the second he realizes that he’s not going to get what he wants, this military creature comes out of him.
You sort of quite like the dude, don’t you? As much as he’s annoying and stupid, everyone wants a Gaston in their gang. He’s somebody to laugh at… but I wanted to enjoy those moments because then the reveal of this insane monster that he becomes is even more terrifying. I think that’s why he was always such a great villain. I see him as the biggest villainous threat in any of the Disney films. He has no special powers. He’s not Jafar, or Ursula, or Maleficent. He’s a human being! He’s an arrogant, narcissistic, bigoted, chauvinistic, self-absorbed man who, once he’s told no, is driven by jealousy and revenge to fuel the fear of quite an idiotic group of villagers to go kill something they’ve never seen before. I mean, it resonates massively to what’s happening in the political climate throughout the world now.
Evans also told EW about how his costume wasn’t originally that fire-engine red because the wardrobe department wanted to stay away from such a glaring color, but eventually they realized that a red like that is the only color that would work for Gaston. And really if all the other costumes are drawn directly from the original movie, a non-red Gaston would look extremely out of place. If anything, his performance will be the one to watch when Beauty and the Beast hits theaters March 17.