Luke Evans Talks 'Pembrokeshire Murders' and 'Pinocchio' Live-Action Remake (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
There’s going to be no shortage of Luke Evans in 2021 thanks to the limited series The Pembrokeshire Murders and Nine Perfect Strangers, and the film Crisis with Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lilly all coming out the first of the year. On top of that, the actor is slated to start production on Disney+’s Beauty and the Beast spinoff series The Little Town, reprising his role as Gaston and a live-action version of Pinocchio.
While speaking with ET about his exciting year, Evans says that the latest adaptation is “going to be a huge, huge movie.” In the film directed by Robert Zemeckis, the actor will play the villainous Coachman opposite Tom Hanks as Geppetto. “I’m so proud to be part of another wonderful Disney live-action remake,” he continues, adding, “I was super honored to be offered to play the Coachman… I’m definitely going to have a lot of fun playing him, that’s for sure.”
Evans adds that the Coachman is “not a nice bloke.” And considering this is his second villainous character following playing Gaston, it begs the question: does the actor have an affinity for playing darker Disney roles? “I don't have a fascination with it, but maybe Disney does,” he responds with a chuckle.
When it comes to The Little Town, which is a prequel about Gaston and LeFou (Josh Gad) and will feature original music by Alan Menken, Evans teases that it’s “a very different story” that’s “going to be very unexpected and [introduce] some wonderful new characters.”
While audiences wait in anticipation for those Disney projects, they can catch Evans in the true-crime dramaThe Pembrokeshire Murders, which makes its U.S. debut on BritBox after first premiering in the U.K. last month. From the producers of Bodyguard, this three-part series brings to life an extraordinary cold case of two 1980s unsolved double murders and the pursuit of Welsh serial killer and former game show contestant John Cooper.
While documented in the press, it’s the first time this story is being dramatized, with Evans playing newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins, who decides to reopen the cases in 2006 and bring justice to the victims and their families decades later.
“I only imagine when a detective or investigative team decides to open a cold case, it must be very nerve-wracking,” the actor says, adding, “I’ve always been fascinated with biopics and true crime and so it triggered a lot of interest to me immediately when I read it.”
But what excited him most was the chance to return home to Wales, where the show was shot on location. “It ticked all the boxes,” he says, knowing that it was going to be a prestige TV show that was “impactful and insightful.”
Like Nine Perfect Strangers, which is slated to premiere later this year, Evans saw Wilkins as another opportunity to challenge himself as an actor and do something different. “The wonderful thing about being an actor is if you pick your roles correctly and your stories correctly and wisely, you don’t really have to do the same thing twice,” he says.
When he spoke with ET last year, he was preparing to go into quarantine to film the Hulu series. At the time, he said he was excited to tackle the character of Lars, a high-powered divorce lawyer, because “[he] is like nothing I have ever done before, which I think is a fun thing for an actor to find a role that does not feel or resonate with anything I have done in the last 15 years.”
Adapted from Liane Moriarty's novel by David E. Kelley, the limited series stars Evans alongside Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Michael Shannon and Bobby Cannavale as the guests and workers at a boutique health-and-wellness facility that promises healing and transformation. “I think it will be a very interesting drama,” the actor says now. “It’s a storyline I’ve never read before.”
Filming took place over five months in Australia’s Byron Bay amid strict COVID-19 safety measures, which required them to largely stay sequestered during the shoot. “It was a great experience for everybody,” he says, adding that because they were together so much, there was “never a dull moment, if you can imagine with Bobby Cannavale, Melissa McCarthy and Michael Shannon.”
And considering they were able to complete filming on Nine Perfect Strangers in December without any hiccups and that he’ll soon be returning to the U.K. to get back to work on his many upcoming projects, the actor says, “I feel very lucky and very thankful for the work.”
Evans adds, especially given how difficult it’s been for so many to projects to get back up and running, “I do not take any job like that for granted. It’s a real privilege to be working and to be working on such great projects.”
The Pembrokeshire Murders premieres Feb. 2 on BritBox.