melancholy monster

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How 'Legion,' 'The Ticket' Star Dan Stevens Became the Man of the Moment
'Legion,' 'Beauty & the Beast' star Dan Stevens takes over the art-house with indie drama 'The Ticket' – how the ex-'Downton Abbey' star has won 2017.

Dan Stevens is having a bit of a moment. In February, you could see him Legion, FX’s stellar, must-see Marvel TV series in which the 34-year-old English actor plays a troubled young man who, despite having lived in a mental institution since his teens, discovers that he’s not really schizophrenic. (The bad news: He’s actually an all-powerful mutant, wanted by the government and controlled by a vicious parasite living inside his mind.) A month later, you might waltz down to your local multiplex and detect Stevens under lots of fur, playing the menacing, melancholy monster in Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. And this week, you can head down to your friendly neighborhood art-house theater and see him in The Ticket, an indie character drama about a blind man who inexplicably regains his sight. Factor in small supporting parts in both skewed rom-com/giant-monster movie Colossal and the Richard Gere vehicle Norman, both hitting theaters in the next few weeks, and though it’s only April, the former Downton Abbey heartthrob seems well on his way to winning 2017.

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But during a phone interview, he says he has a hard time looking at this year as some sort of grand, preplanned breakthrough. Really, Stevens insists, it’s just how circumstances worked out. “A lot of things I’ve been working on over the last few years happen to be coming out at the same time,” he demurs. “I did The Ticket four years ago; Beast was created two years ago; and we shot the Legion pilot almost a year ago to the day. It’s amazing how these [releases] sometimes coincide.”

Working in British theater and television for years, Stevens kept building up his resumé. He was then cast in a period drama that writer-director Julian Fellowes was developing in 2010, a multi-narrative about the masters-and-servants relationships in an English estate. Quicker than you could say “upstairs, downstairs,” Downton Abbey became an unexpected pop cultural phenomenon and his caddish-to-compassionate character Matthew Crawley became a fan favorite. In 2012, Stevens left the popular PBS show  — his character died in a car crash — and he and his family made the trek to New York. Soon, he was appearing on Broadway alongside Jessica Chastain in a Tony-nominated revival of The Heiress. “Jessica was having a similar moment back then,” he recalls. “I think she had seven films that she’d been working on the previous five years come out in one year. So it’s been great to know her and have seen her go through this. It helps.”

Some noticeably non–drawing-room-drama roles followed that garnered Stevens attention – a psychotic soldier in The Guest, a cross-dressing writer in the cult Web series High Maintenance. 

But it was the play that put him in touch with director Ido Fluk, who had been developing a script, inspired by the 2008 economic meltdown, about a blind man whose regained sight activates a materialistic side that leads him to become a predatory success at his real-estate company. After seeing Stevens in The Heiress, the filmmaker knew he had found his star. “When you meet Dan, you realize he’s an incredibly smart person,” Fluk says, adding, “Do you know he was a judge on the Man Booker Prize [in 2012]? What actor do you meet that also has done that?”

“Ido was one of the first directors I met when I got to New York who seemed genuinely excited to collaborate on something,” Stevens says. “It’s a wonderful thing to find that. … I just immediately thought [the script] was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever read. It was almost like a dark fairy tale — it had a real fable quality to it.”

Gloom-flecked fairy tales have been his specialty of late. Even though they were made far apart, it’s hard not to see connections between his work in Legion, Beast and The Ticket. In all three, he plays characters who dance between the shadow and the light — there’s a dark side within these people that cripples them. Sometimes that monstrousness is of their own making, as with his cursed Beast; in Legion, it’s an external evil that his reluctant superhero must battle to the death. When it’s suggested that his Ticket character is also someone who goes through a transformation — from a good soul to a morally bankrupt one — Stevens objects passionately.

“Ido and I really enjoyed this almost taboo idea of ‘What if he actually wasn’t all that great a person before the movie?’” he responds. “It’s interesting that you see this person as going from a nice guy to an awful man. You know, there’s not a huge amount of evidence that his relationships were necessarily that happy beforehand. It’s interesting that people immediately leap to the conclusion that the blind man must be the nice guy. Playing with that taboo felt very alive, very dangerous.

"It’s almost like we shouldn’t make assumptions about anybody,” he adds  with a sarcastic laugh. “It’s a good thing to look around and question a few things – it’s a healthy instinct.” (Asked if that extended to the notion of recasting Josh Gad’s LeFou in Beauty and the Beast as gay, a concept that has caused more controversy than its creators probably intended, Stevens replies, “You know, like a lot of things that people get whipped up about online, [it’s] neither one thing or the other. It certainly made Josh’s character a little more interesting than he might otherwise have been.”)

If Stevens himself has a dark side, he’s done a superb job concealing it from his costars. “There’s a certain level of absurdity to our show, and Dan can really tap into that,” Rachel Keller, his Legion costar, says; she cites the scene in which the two halves of his character’s brain, one of which speaks with a British accent, argue with each other. “He can be very focused, very intense – and then he’ll spot a neighborhood bookstore, get wide-eyed and jump around a little bit: ‘Can we go in there?!’” She laughs. “That actually happened.”

His hot streak has left him very much in-demand. He’ll be part of The Raid filmmaker Gareth Evans’ new Netflix thriller Apostle with Michael Sheen and Lucy Boynton, and another season of Legion beckons. You’ll forgive him if it’s all a bit of a blur. “Somebody made me aware that it’s been five years since I was cast in The Heiress,” he says, almost surprised. “So that’s an interesting five-year sort of chapter-marker right there with the release of The Ticket, Beauty and the Beast and Legion – it’s been five years since I came to the States.”

He takes a minute to reflect on how his life has changed in that time span, remembering where he was when he started the smaller of the three projects. “I walked onto that set straight from the set of Night at the Museum 3,” he recalls, “which was my first big studio [film].” Stevens laughs. “I was Sir Lancelot – this sort of mad, bluff idiot, this giant character.” So from Lancelot to Legion – is this his moment? “It has been an interesting few years,” he admits, before cackling loudly one last time.

bts as korean indie songs

namjoon: lucia - upon your existence 

taehyung: zitten - december ♪

yoongi: the black skirts - everything 

jimin: standing egg - little star 

jin: casker - mountain 

hoseok: j-rabbit - nowadays you are 

jungkook: allegrow - every night on earth 

DCTQ’s 10 Favorite Cinnamon Rolls of 2015

I had a whole bunch of lists planned for the end of the year, but I ended up mostly forgetting about them. So this will end up being the only one (fitting for a mostly moe blog I guess).

Please note that this list is for series I’ve seen this year and not ones that premiered in 2015. Anyway, without further ado;

What type of character qualifies as a Cinnamon Roll?: For this list I pretty much define these characters as those who have warm personalities, a distinct level of cuteness and can more or less do no wrong (so like a cinnamon roll).

Tsumugi Kotobuki (K-on!)

Originally posted by piyox22

Picking a favorite keion girl is difficult, but the cinnamon roll of the group is an obvious choice.

Nano Shinonome (Nichijou)

Originally posted by geassgreen

Whats there to not love about an absurdly humanoid robot who just wants to be a real girl?

Kumin Tsuyuri (Chuunibyou)

Originally posted by lilium

She may have been an anime exclusive character, but a girl who does nothing but sleep in an adorable fashion is a breath of fresh air among a group of chuunis.

Yuu Naruse (Watamote)

Originally posted by thirdstrike

What she lacks in common sense and book smarts she makes up for by being only true friend a certain unpopular girl has.

Makoto Tachibana (Free)

Originally posted by animebigworld

Literally a gender swapped Mugi. Being a total scaredy cat only adds to his cinnamon roll status.

Nana Ebina (Himouto)

Originally posted by cthuwu

Shy, clumsy and draws attention for awkward reasons. Shes almost the polar opposite of her two faced friend and neighbor.

Manako (Monster Musume) 

Originally posted by raizo-senpai

For an ecchi harem, MonMusume featured surprising amount of cinnamon rolls, but none fit quite as well as the sniping cyclops.

Yuki Nagato (Dissappearance universe) (Haruhi)

Originally posted by yutako-kun

Regular Nagato is already about as cute as a deadpan stoic character can be, but replace that nature with a shy and lonely bookworm (or gamer in the spin-off) and things just get even cuter.

Ryuuji Takasu (Toradora!)

Originally posted by okise

A rather creepy smile can only mask the cinnamon roll status of an awkward teenager who loves nothing more than to do housework. You’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to deal with a violent tsundere for as long as he does.

Akari Akaza (Yuru Yuri)

Originally posted by lunaticyuno

The universe may hate this girl, but that doesn’t bring her down. Literally the most benevolent character you’d find in anime.