Strictly: Luke Evans performs 'Bring Him Home' live
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The Welsh star is back on Strictly Come Dancing Tonight to promote his new album, A Song For You. The album includes big numbers like Over The Rainbow, Bridge Over Troubled Water and My Way – as well as duets with Nicole Kidman and Charlotte Church. It’s a long way from Aberbargoed in the Rhymney Valley, the only child of Jehovah’s Witnesses with dreams of performing on the London stage. But Evans told The Express how he made them come true and then, when it seemed doors were closing in his face again, took a huge gamble that paid off in ways even he could never have believed possible.
Luke said his family is his greatest joy now but admits he was hugely unhappy in his teens: “I hated school, I was bullied badly, and then they took me knocking doors at the weekend, to the houses of those same people. It was awful. I was miserable. But it gave me the fire to get out and do something.”
That fire took him out of his school, his church and his family home at just 16. His family was horrified but he found a job in Cardiff, saving his money for singing lessons.
He says: “I went every week, £15 a time, it was a huge amount of money. But I had no fear, no doubt. I was itching to get started. You don’t know how scary the world is at that age. I had no baggage metaphorically or physically. I had nothing at all of any kind.”
Within a few months, he hopped on a train and auditioned for a performing arts college, the London Studio Centre.
The song he chose to perform was Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Yet another fearless choice – it’s a notoriously difficult song, even for seasoned professionals.
He said: “I know, I know, it’s tough, it goes so high. It’s not easy. But I always figure, ‘Why not show what I’ve got?’ And it worked. I was 16 years old, I got a scholarship and I moved to London at 17 to start at college.”
He arrived in London the day Princess Diana died, August 31, 1997: “The whole city was in mourning. I can never forget it.”
After graduating from drama school, he worked solidly throughout his twenties in musicals from Rent and Miss Saigon to the Boy George show Taboo. But frustration built after he wasn’t taken seriously for straight theatre roles, let alone TV: “I couldn’t even get seen for an advert”
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Evans said: “It wasn’t fair, every door was closed and I knew I could do this. The character was a boy from Cardiff! I wrote a personal card to the casting director and dropped it at the stage door.”
Word spread about an exciting new talent and agents came specifically to see Luke in the show. “One day I was taken to lunch and dinner, both times at The Ivy, by William Morris and Creative Artists, two of the biggest agencies in Hollywood. It was crazy.
“They were courting me. I’d never experienced that before. In musical theatre, you flog yourself for a shred of attention and you’re only as good as your last show. Suddenly I had a manager and I’d never been to LA. Within a year I had my first movie.”
At 30, he hit Hollywood in 2010’s Clash Of The Titans as Greek god Apollo: “It was bizarre. I was with people like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes and they were like, ‘Where have you sprung from?’ I said, ‘I’ve been around but nobody wanted me!'”
Now 43, he has starred in the Hobbit and Fast and Furious franchises, as well as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. He most recently played the Coachman in the live-action Pinocchio remake.
LUKE EVANS’ NEW ALBUM A SONG FOR YOU IS OUT NOW
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