Interview: Luke Evans on Giving the Fast & Furious Franchise a Nemesis


“I wanted to create an antagonist that had a valid philosophy,” Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin told in an interview last week. “He can stand right across from Dom and really challenge his philosophy. In doing that, I was fortunate to find someone of the stature and talent that they could stand there and deliver these lines opposite Vin and Dom. We’ve never had that before.”

Stepping into the role of the villainous Shaw is Luke Evans, best known for roles in films like Immortals, Clash of the Titans and The Three Musketeers. Coming up, his slate gets even more diverse as he’s set to play Bard the Bowman in December 13th’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug before moving on to the title roles in both Gary Shore’s Dracula and F. Javier GutiĆ©rrez’s The Crow. had the opportunity to speak with Evans about driving a military tank straight through Universal Pictures’ high-octane franchise, his tendency to play darker roles and his thoughts on his ever-increasing schedule of upcoming projects.

CS: You’re playing the sort of mirror image of Vin Diesel’s Dom character. Did you go back and study his performance at all in the previous films to build Shaw’s identity?
Luke Evans:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s great to have those films as a research base. It’s not just studying him, though. I looked at all the characters to see what I’d be coming up against. But absolutely, I did do that, yeah.

CS: Can you take me back to the earliest inception of Shaw. What did you look at to build his history?
There was a lot to go on, because he’s a very well-written character. He had a good backstory. He’s obviously military trained. He was an ex-Special Ops soldier. He’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan. These Special Ops soldiers are very highly trained. They can do almost anything. He has an immense amount of intelligence. He’s very strategical. He can do anything he wants, basically. He’s a bomb expert and he’s quite ruthless. He can play mind games. There’s not much that he’s not capable of doing and that’s what makes him such a great villain. A 21st century villain rather than the quintessential British cliche villain that we’re so used to seeing. He’s not the Persian cat-petting, swivel chair, scar-face sort of villain.

CS: There are some pretty incredible stunts that Shaw is involved with. Are you a car guy to begin with? Was there special training involved?
Yeah, I am. The irony is that I only passed my driving test four and half years ago. I moved to Cardiff when I was 17 and never needed a car. When I came to L.A. for my first job there, I needed a car so I had to pass my driving test. It’s weird because, had I not done that then, I might not be in this movie now. But I’m the envy of all my mates because they’ve been driving since they were 17. They’re like, “You get to drive a tank and flip over and crush cars?!”

CS: How different is the experience getting behind the wheel of a military tank?
It’s my first tank. It’s great for parking, though.

CS: Shaw is a villain with his own degree of charm. How do you go about finding the balance that keeps the audience both liking him as a villain, but still rooting against him?
It was a challenge to not make him too vile while still keeping him a real threat. But he’s also someone that you admire if just for his confidence. Anyone who takes on Dom and Hobbs is someone you have to have some level of respect for. But he’s also got to be disliked to some extent because he is the bad guy. You can still admire the skill set he has, though. He’s got the martial arts and the military training and he’s also got money because he’s a succesful criminal mastermind. He hijacks military convoys and steals components to sell on the black market. He’s ruthless. He hasn’t got a team that he cares that much about. They’re all replaceable. That’s what makes them different from Dom’s team.

CS: The last film introduced Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs character and there has already been talk of a spinoff. Would you have any interest in seeing Shaw in his film?
Maybe. I’m very busy for at least a year and a half, so nothing would happen till then. There’s definitely stuff that could play out there, though. Most definitely.

CS: Speaking of being busy, you’ve recently signed on to play the lead in the reboot of “The Crow.” Is that a character that particularly speaks to you?
Yes, it was a very poignant film from my childhood, which I remember vividly. The soundtrack, also. It was such a solid performance that Brandon Lee gave. It was a very tragic end for somebody that probably would have had a very promising career.

CS: Is this a complete reimaging? Are you still playing Eric Draven or are you a different Crow altogether?
I’m Eric Draven. I’m the same character. Obviously, he’s been refreshed and brought up to date. We’re reimagining it to a certain extent, but the story and the plot is mostly the same.

CS: You’re going from playing a villain in this to a sort of anti-hero in “The Crow.” Between that, you’ve got “Dracula.” Is there something about these sort of darker characters that appeals to you specifically?
You’re probably thinking of the Dracula that Bram Stoker created. The Dracula that I’m going to be portraying is the origin of Dracula. It’s about the man that became Dracula. Don’t be too quick to think he’s a bad guy. I’m just going to say that.

CS: You’ve also got a big role in the next two parts of “The Hobbit.” Are you done shooting that at this point?
Nope. I go back to New Zealand straight after the “Fast” premiere in Los Angeles. I fly back that night to New Zealand and start shooting the day I land. It’s all a bit crazy. I’m there for five-and-a-half weeks and then fly from there to Belfast to start pre-production and prepping to “Dracula,” which will take me through to the end of the year.

CS: That’s quite a calendar.
Oh, man. You don’t even know the half of it. I haven’t got time to breathe, let alone anything else.

Fast & Furious 6 hit theaters this Friday, May 24.