Nobody's favorite Beauty and the Beast character is Gaston — and the guy who plays him in the new live-action remake, starring Emma Watson as Belle, isn't going to try to change that. What Luke Evans would like to do, though, is bring some depth to the villain so audiences can empathize with the biggest asshole of Villeneuve, France a little bit more. In other words, he's helping us all understand why Gaston is such a massive douchebag.
In a fascinating twist, Evans plays Gaston as a one-time war hero now suffering from PTSD. "I saw massive potential to create backstory and layer him up with intention and objectives," he told Entertainment Weekly. "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." He continued, "But if you’re 16 and doing that, you might be suffering from a little PTSD. So we played it dark."
In fact, the Welsh actor initially wanted to make his character even darker, but they ended up with a compromise halfway between the Gaston we know from the Disney original and Evans' reinvention. And in Evans' mind, that war trauma informs some of the behavior that, without any context, depicts Gaston as a one-dimensional villain from the get-go. And that's totally boring, because the most interesting, terrifying bad guys all have a story.
"[The] best villains are not villains from the beginning. They turn into villains," Evans explained to EW. "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."
According to Evans, all of Gaston's more lighthearted and laughable asshole early in the film behavior only makes his psychotic behavior in the latter half (spoiler alert!) more impactful. "I wanted to enjoy those moments because then the reveal of this insane monster that he becomes is even more terrifying," he said. Indeed, Gaston's devolution from scorned prick to crazed murderer makes him scarier because of how realistic his evilness is.
"He has no special powers. He’s not Jafar, or Ursula, or Maleficent. He’s a human being!" Evans said. "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."
Way to go dark again, dude. But also: thank you for giving us yet another good reason to see Beauty and the Beast, hitting theaters Friday, March 16.