Meet Dan Stevens, The Man Behind The (New) Beast

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The tale's as old as time. In the Disney cartoon version of events, a mermaid can grow legs, a frog can turn into a prince, and a bison-esque beast can become a long-haired ginger prince named Adam. Yes, for all you bar trivia nerds, that's the Beast's real name.
When the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast drops on March 17, you’ll be retaught an important moral lesson: Sometimes, there’s a handsome British actor lurking behind a CGI beast. When Belle’s is rewarded for her kindness and patience to the Beast at the film’s end, she’ll encounter a dashing Dan Stevens.
Who is this floppy-haired prince, anyway? Those of us who watch Downton Abbey are already familiar with this 34-year-old actor. But for many, Dan Stevens is a new addition to our leading actor repertoire. Once you’re made aware of this dashing intellectual with a penchant for period pieces, however, you’ll be noticing him in just about everything.
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He's quite the intellectual.

With an English degree from Cambridge University and fluent knowledge of French and German, Dan has quite an intellectual pedigree. As if his schedule weren’t jam-packed enough, Dan was once a judge for the Man Booker prize, for which he had to read 147 novels.

Sometimes, the genetic lottery is just plain unfair. To be born with those eyes and those brains? Humph.
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He started his family young.

Dan was 23 when he met his wife, South African Jazz singer Susie Hariet. By the time he was 26, their first daughter, Willow, was born. Willow (7) has since been joined by a brother, Aubrey (4), and a sister, Eden (10 months).

In 2012, the family moved from London to Brooklyn.
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He has a seriously valuable voice.

With his crisp British accent, Stevens has narrated over 30 audiobooks, including The Odyssey and Wolf Hall.
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He's adopted.

Dan was born in 1982 in Croyden, England, to a mother he never met. He was later adopted by two schoolteachers, and then joined by another brother, also adopted. His parents were always transparent in discussing his parentage.
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He wore an INTENSE costume during Beauty and the Beast filming.

Whereas Emma Watson wore an intricate ballgown that took hours of labor to create, Dan spent all of his scenes wearing a gray, skintight Lycra suit. But that’s not the worst part. According to The Telegraph, in order to achieve the Beast’s height, Dan donned 10-inch platform stilts.
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Downton Abbey was his big break..

After donning numerous 19th-century costumes for minor roles, Dan finally found the perfect period piece for him: Downton Abbey. He played Matthew Crawley, the lawyer who pines after (and eventually wins over) Mary, the main family’s oldest daughter. After Stevens decided to pursue other opportunities and leave Downtown, his beloved character Matthew was killed off. You could practically hear hearts around the world splatter.
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...but he's been in other stuff, too.

Since leaving Downton, he’s gone on to do other literary works, like a Broadway adaptation of Henry James’ Washington Square called The Heiress.

But Dan departed from his old-timey ways when he starred in The Guest, a 2014 horror-thriller film. Stevens plays David, an American soldier who visits the Peterson family under the pretense of having served with their son, who was killed in action.

You also might've seen him as Sir Lancelot in 2014's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, or season 1 of High Maintenance.
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Courtesy of the BBC
He's the king of literary adaptations.

Dan has an acting résumé to match his English degree from Cambridge. He's starred in adaptations of Sense and Sensibility, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, Agatha Christie's Marple, and The Line of Beauty, a show based on Alan Hollinghurst's novel of the same name.