he looks good period

telegraph.co.uk
Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens may have been an ‘unruly’ child, but he still played Macbeth at 14.

Dan Stevens may have been an ‘unruly’ child, but he still played Macbeth at 14. Little wonder the doomed hero of Downton Abbey  is now a fully fledged film star. Sally Williams meets Disney’s latest leading man

Having spent three years playing the ill-fated Matthew Crawley, the accidental heir to Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens seemed fixed in the public’s perception as a thoroughly well-bred chap: a purveyor of good manners, good looks and period dramas. He was so suave in his tailcoats and white bow ties that one critic likened his ‘floppy-haired, Oxbridge burnish’ to a young Hugh Grant.


But in recent years Stevens seems to have  done all he can to obscure his fine features.  He dyed his hair black and appeared ravaged  as a heroin trafficker in the thriller A Walk  Among the Tombstones. He wore heavy armour and a melting nose as Sir Lancelot in the comedy  Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

And in High Maintenance, a cult series about a weed dealer in New York, he was a cross-dressing  stay-at-home dad.  Now he is the Beast in the live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in which he spends the best part of two hours disguised as a 6ft 10in leonine monster.


The film, about a prince who is transformed into a brute as punishment for his arrogance, is much-anticipated (the trailer alone broke records, with 127.6 million views in its first 24 hours online). Stevens’ startling blue eyes are still apparent – particularly when he is face-to-face with Belle (Emma Watson), whose love he must win to become a prince again – but the rest of him is concealed under bad teeth, demonic horns and a Lycra muscle suit.

I felt pretty monstrous on that gorgeous set. It was incredibly lavish

You  don’t even hear his normal voice (which, as fans  of audiobooks will know, is beautiful – he has narrated over 30 titles, from Agatha Christie to Roald Dahl), because he does something clever with his larynx to make it particularly growly.  It’s all part of a post-Downton period of exploration, he explains: ‘I realised I hadn’t been  challenging myself.’

Bio

We meet at a hotel in London, where he appears in a pork-pie hat and a hipster cardigan. Now 34, he is much leaner than in his Downton days, and his hair is back to its natural chestnut brown. Having moved from London to New York in 2013, he lives among artistic types in Brooklyn with his wife, Susie Harriet, a South African jazz singer, and their three children, Willow, seven, Aubrey, four, and Eden, 10 months.

Stevens is polite, extremely likeable and laughs easily, but what is most striking is his intellect. He won a scholarship to Tonbridge, an independent boarding school; speaks French and German; and studied English literature at the University of Cambridge.

In 2011 he was the quick-witted guest host of an episode of Have  I Got News for You (crammed in while filming Downton; his co-star Hugh Bonneville, who played the Earl of Grantham, declined because  ‘I am only an actor’ and ‘not sharp enough  to compete with the regular panellists’). The  following year he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize, for which he had to read 147 novels.

The move to New York, he says, marked  ‘a different approach to a lot of things. My own personal health was one.’ He swims, does yoga and goes to the gym, and his diet is dairy-free  (he orders black coffee). ‘I didn’t take very  good care of myself when I lived in London,’ he admits. ‘Under three layers of tweed, you can hide a lot of ills.’

He works hard as an actor, researching roles, exploring the psychology of his characters. And during the five-month shoot for Beauty and the Beast at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, he went to the gym every day. Stevens says he needed to strengthen his legs to withstand the punishment of performing on 10in stilts – ‘metal, elevated platforms that were extremely painful and hard to walk in’, he explains. ‘I also developed really good core strength. It helped with the breathing, it helped with the singing.’

Emma was looking gorgeous in this immaculately conceived creation and then I come lumbering in in this grey, Lycra muscle suit

He did the film because the VHS was part of his childhood – he was eight when the animation came out and had ‘a much-watched copy’ – and because the role was exciting. ‘It was a brilliantly intriguing character to tackle. I thought, “Wow, I get to be the Beast!”’  Creating the Beast was exactly the kind of technical exercise Stevens now thrives on.

He talks of how he had to give two different performances – one neck-down and one neck-up. First, he acted out the movements of his character on-set with Watson, wearing the muscle suit and the stilts, which, he admits, could be alienating.

‘I felt pretty monstrous on that gorgeous set. It was incredibly lavish – the ballroom was based on the Palace of Versailles but turned up to 11, excessive opulence, beautifully lit. Emma was looking gorgeous in this immaculately conceived creation – it took something like 10,000 hours of work to make that dress. And then I come lumbering in in this grey, Lycra muscle suit.’

He has only praise for his co-star. ‘It was  fascinating doing the scenes with Emma. I don’t think there’s another actress on the planet  who is more experienced at working with this level of new technology,’ – after the high-scale visual effects of Harry Potter films – ‘and she was totally unfazed.’

Every 10 days or so, he would sit in a booth with his face covered in ultraviolet make-up  and give his second performance, re-enacting the scenes from the previous days in front of  a bank of cameras. This footage was used to create the Beast’s face.

‘It’s never been done before,’ he says proudly.  There was also another reason for taking the role, he adds. ‘Beast is for my children, for my wife, for my family.’

Dan Stevens was born in 1982 in Croydon, to a mother he never knew. At the age  of seven days he was adopted by two schoolteachers. It’s a subject he has rarely discussed publicly. He was later joined by a brother (no blood relation), who was also adopted.

The family lived in Marlborough, Wiltshire, then Chelmsford, Essex, and when Stevens was eight moved to Brecon, in Wales.  He says his parents – ‘warm, lovely, good people’ – were always open about him being adopted.

‘People like to pathologise adoption, but actually there is no conventional way to be brought up. People can have biological parents who are absent for whatever reason during their childhood, and their parenting can be replaced by any number of people. Adoption is just one of many ways that children get nurtured and loved and end up as human beings who are every bit as interesting and whatever as regular children.’

The circumstances of his birth, he admits, do raise a question mark over his acting ability.

‘It’s quite possibly a genetic thing; it’s quite possibly a nurture thing. The parents that raised me weren’t actors, but they loved going to the theatre and they watched television and movies, so  I was raised on a cultural diet of books, of literature, and also of performance, of watching great movies and plays.’

‘Distracting’ is how Stevens describes himself at primary school; that’s what most of his reports said, ‘either because I was bored or because I was just being an idiot’. The solution was to put him on stage. ‘It was almost presented as a punishment that I was going to be in the school play,’ he says. Acting became ‘a vent for something’.

At the age of 13 he won that scholarship to Tonbridge School. ‘My parents, as teachers, knew about that kind of thing, and I wish more people did really, because I was given some incredible opportunities and am very grateful for that. There is a system out there that champions curiosity in kids, and it doesn’t matter if your grandfather went wherever.’

And yet the change was traumatic. ‘These schools are built like castles. They have imposing façades and are run on very  old English principles, and they are all trying  to be echoes of each other.’ Stevens became ‘unruly’ – smoking, getting suspended, going  on demonstrations. But expulsion was averted  by a teacher.

‘My English master, Jonathan Smith, was one of those magical teachers who could  spot a kid in trouble and know the right thing  to say to him,’ he has explained. ‘I owe him a  tremendous amount.’


A novelist, writer and teacher, Smith was head of English at Tonbridge for 17 years. His former pupils include the poet Christopher Reid, who won the 2009 Costa Book Award, and Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Boy. His son, Ed, is an author and former England cricketer.

Smith and the drama teacher Lawrence Thornbury ‘were this incredible duo, and it was just like an oasis of creativity and a real escape from the rest of it’, Stevens says. ‘They championed what I was good at and recognised where  I needed to be directed towards, and offered guidance. Even if it was just, “You are having  a moment, read this book.”

‘I got very into the Beat poets, William Blake, Seamus Heaney – it was almost like feeding  a curiosity, feeding certain passions. Whatever  it was, it was like, “Oh, there is something more out there. I can get into this.”’

A turning point was being cast as Macbeth when he was 14. What did they see in him?  ‘Precociousness, probably.’ He explains his urge to perform very simply: ‘The most nervous I ever get is when I have to go and be me somewhere.  If I’ve got a nice costume and some lovely lines  to say, I know I’ll be all right.’

Stevens would later use his Downton fame to help make a film adaptation of a book written by Smith. Summer in February is the tale of a real-life love triangle between British artist Alfred Munnings, his friend Gilbert Evans and the woman they both loved, artist Florence Carter-Wood.

The book was first published in 1995, and the film was released in 2013, starring Stevens as Evans and Dominic Cooper as Munnings. Was that a thank you? ‘There are easier ways of saying thank you than trying to make an independent film of somebody’s book, but yes, subconsciously it was. It was a real labour of love.’

Downton seemed to be in every country in the world. There was no rhyme or reason as to why it caught fire as widely as it did. We were all surprised

It was Smith who encouraged Stevens to go to Cambridge, which he loved, meeting like-minded people for the first time and starring in student productions. Many of his friends were alternative comedians – Mark Watson, Tim Key, Stefan Golaszewski – and he started doing  stand-up, even seeing a future on the comedy  circuit.

The theatre director Sir Peter Hall spotted him acting alongside his daughter Rebecca  in an undergraduate production of Macbeth. Six months after graduation, Hall cast them both in a touring production of As You Like It. ‘I wasn’t buying a house off the back of that job, but it felt like a success in that I had always wanted to do professional Shakespeare and learn about verse speaking,’ Stevens says.

He toured England and America and won critical acclaim, being nominated for an Ian Charleson Award in 2004. Success followed success.

In 2006 he starred as Nick Guest in the BBC adaptation of Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The Line of Beauty (‘I have not seen Dan Stevens before but from now on  I will be on the lookout for anything else he appears in,’ wrote one reviewer); and in 2008 he played Edward Ferrars in an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. But it was an audition later that year that changed everything.

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, has explained, ‘We were looking for a young man who was handsome, of course, but who conveyed a real sense of uprightness. Not an anti-hero but  a real hero – someone who, at the same time, seemed strong and rigorous and interesting.’

When did Stevens realise Downton was a phenomenon? ‘I happened to have been in the States and I flew back to Heathrow, and someone came up to me at the airport who was obsessed with the show, and that was only four episodes in.  I thought, “That hasn’t happened before.”’


Americans were especially fascinated – the series won a Golden Globe in 2012. ‘And it wasn’t just there,’ Stevens says. ‘Downton seemed to be in every country in the world [at its peak it played in 250 territories]. Like in Spain, it become one of the biggest foreign shows there for 20 years. There was seemingly no rhyme or reason as to why it caught fire as widely as it did. We were all surprised. Even Julian.’

It has been five years since he left Downton – or rather didn’t renew his three-year contract. ‘It’s called an option for a reason and I chose not to continue,’ he explains. He remembers his days on-set with nostalgia.

‘The dining room scenes were a torture to shoot, but as a result there was  a kind of gallows humour that we all developed. You are eating all day, increasingly cold peas and congealed gravy, and there are 20 of you sat around a table. We used to play wink murder. Maggie Smith [who played the Dowager Countess] is unbelievably good at wink murder.’

Stevens says the decision not to continue was made with his wife. ‘We’d just had our daughter Willow when I started the show and we thought, “OK, a three-year engagement.”

Then by the end of three years I was ready to try something else.’  Family is at the centre of his life. He was 23 when he met Harriet – they were working at different theatres in Sheffield – and was in the thick of marriage and babies ahead of his contemporaries. He was 26 when Willow was born.

‘If it feels right, it feels right. We fell in love and that was it. 

Three children on and it’s still magical.’  He is a doting father, changing nappies, though he admits he’s ‘not the best’ at getting up in the middle of the night. Harriet has put her career is on hold, he says. ‘But there is still a lot of singing in our house.’

His biggest indulgence is travel. ‘We enjoy taking our kids to see beautiful natural spots. Wherever we are in the world, we always try to find something like that.’

As an actor, Stevens’ ambition is to keep trying new things. Future projects include a portrayal  of Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas, a film that charts the creation of  A Christmas Carol; and he is about to start shooting Apostle, a dark thriller about a religious cult.

‘When I left Downton, a lot of people would levy questions like, “What are you doing? What are you going to do?” And I guess the last few years have been about answering those questions in a number of different ways.’

Beauty and the Beast is released on 17 March

amarguerite  asked:

Alcibiades- hot or not?

How could we possibly know? Oh, if only even one source had thought to mention what he looked like! Just one comment on how bangable he was considered by contemporaries! Perhaps a rumination on how the good looks he might have had might have looked at different periods in his life! But no, all our ancient historians and writers were just too busy with cold hard facts to tell us whether Alcibiades was, in fact, an 11 out of 10 and the most handsome man of his city, nay, entire era. I guess it will remain a mystery!

4

i like that they’re seeing this as a DIY project.

what is this

Oh my goodness gracious me, do not get me started on this. I died a little when I saw him on my TV and he just looked incredibly stunning and he did so well and I’m so bloody proud of him. Gah. I just want snuggles - sweaty, tight, loving snuggles. I can’t get the image of running onto the pitch after he lifted the trophy with his team, his body smelling of champagne and sweat and his cologne and he just properly engulfs me into a hug and sort of twirls me around and oh my god, I need to stop before I go to sleep because I’ll end up having Louis dreams and I’ll wake up with Louis feels and I cannot do with Louis feels tomorrow - especially since I’ll be studying for a long period tomorrow.

bUT HE LOOKS SO FUCKING GOOD AND I’M NOT OKAY. HE’S SO GORGEOUS AND HANDSOME AND OH MY GOD, ALL THESE FOOTIE PHOTOS AS WELL AS HIM IN A SUIT ARE REALLY GETTING MY MOTORS RUNNING TODAY !!!!

anonymous asked:

Can you do a prompt of chubby!eggsy and him feelin insecure about it? He thinks harry finds him unattractive when really harry thinks he's adorable, but none of them are admitting their feelings for each other (And roxy and merlin is just in the background rolling their eyes at these hopeless nerds)

I am putting this under a read more, just in case anyone is uncomfortable with mentions of weight.

Keep reading

The broken swing

Okay, so, after last night events, i want to theorize something about this parallel:

This told a lot about the releationship of this siblings and how it evolved. Stanford also metioned in NWHS that it was weird that sibling get along so well like Dipper and Mabel. That means that Stanford and his brother releationship was not so well. 

Looking to the first picture that appears in “Dreamscaperers” we can notice that the right swing is broken. I have read theories about this and people said that this particular swing belongs to Stanford. Since the begining of the “Stan’s Twin Theory”, the picture of his losing brother was kind of a little nerd, so, naturally, if we look the picture of NWHS we will accept that the right swing belongs to Stanford (cause in the other was the twin with the glasses and the notes).

I disagree with this.

If we remember, in “Dreamscaperers” the one wearing the glasses was Standford:

Since he was a kid he wear glasses (with the obviously exception when he dated Carla, but maybe he had a period of “i want to look good, so goodbye glasses and hello new body shape”).

Nothing was told us about Stanley (we all only had theories until the last episode), so we cant assure that he also wore glasses.

Even more, Stanford assures that he was like Dipper when he was young ( a little bit of a nerd).

So, for me, the one in the right swing is Stanley, and not Stanford. That also will explain why that swing is broken: Staley’s dissapearing, along with something happening in the releationship between them.

What could have happened? Well, for now we have to wait until the new episode to understand more of this and maybe then, the truth about these “Mystery Twins” will finally known.

andemaiar  asked:

What do you think about Jamie Campbell Bower to play Lestat? I think he's somewhat perfect - and he can sing! He's got the hair too (sometimes!).

JCB was a somewhat popular FC for Lestat RPers at one time, so your opinion is/was shared by others!

^He already played a vampire in Twilight, but I didn’t see that… Idk if he’d be willing to play another vampire. He looks good in period costume, I’ll admit that, and the makeup/hair team really transformed him. This is 100% better vampiry appearance than QOTD!Lestat (but that’s setting the bar preeeetty low, ROFL).

Personally, I find JCB too thin, so bony, such angular features… but I haven’t seen his acting so it’s unfair to judge him just superficially. He has a lot of theatre experience and he seems quite charming from his quotes on his IMDB page. He might be great! I would definitely screen-test him if I was in charge of things.

[^X I will say that these are some excellent silly faces and our Lestat has to be able to pull of his easy sense of humor, too!] 

The fact is, we all have our own ideals of beauty and our own headcanon of these characters. It’s highly unlikely that one actor will satisfy all of our expectations, and @cdf-archive (now @coeur-de-feu) was a Lestat RPer who used JCB as a FC, and they wrote up a great post about JCB as Lestat [X], excerpt below: 

“There will always be inconsistencies, everywhere you look. But it’s not really even whether or not I find him perfect. It’s his imperfections that make him perfect, to me. And perhaps that’s what Magnus found in Lestat - his imperfections gave him an indescribable yet authentic beauty and Magnus wanted to immortalize those features by turning Lestat into a vampire, even though Lestat did not want it. It was okay with Magnus that Lestat had a few things here and there that weren’t completely perfect; he found him extraordinarily beautiful, regardless.”

#Eloquent eloquence

Also, check out @cdf-archive’s actual archive to see more pics of JCB, some of them are good promos in a VC-aesthetic which you might like!