If you had describe Luke Evans with one word it would have to be: versatile.
Whether it’s a role in an epic fantasy a la The Hobbit, or the incredible (and criminally underrated in my opinion) dystopian High Rise, belting out top tier vocals in Disney’s action Beauty and The Beast or starring in the fascinatingly unexpected Nine Perfect Strangers alongside Nicole Kidman…the Welshman has the range. It’s true, just take a listen to his latest album.
Or you could watch his latest series on Apple TV+ , the action-thriller Echo 3, which adds yet another fascinating facet to a long resumé of taking on complex roles that are not quite what they seem.
In the series, the 43-year-old star plays ‘Bambi’ (more on that later) a special ops soldier whose sister, recently married to fellow soldier Prince, goes missing while working in South America.
“There’s so much to chew on with this character,” Evans tells ICON during our interview. “He’s the quintessential special forces soldier but there’s so much more to him. He’s quite and contemplative but he has so much in his armour that he’s built around himself. But he’s not a superman, he’s a real human with real feelings who isn’t afraid to cry or hold someone. He’s not afraid to break down. And I thought that was really interesting for someone who has such elite training to still have empathy and these feelings.”
Created by the Academy Award winning Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and starring Luke Evans, Michiel Huisman and Jessica Ann Collins, Echo 3 is a masterwork of subterfuge. Not just in plot lines but also in subtext. Yes, it contains the familiar Boal journalistic-style excavation of local geopolitics and intrigue. And from the previews, it might be easy to read Echo 3 is another run-of-the-mill take on military might, you’d be wrong. And poorer for the assumption.
Beneath the bravado, beneath the visual adrenalin and even the geopolitics, Echo 3 is about family. And the things we do to keep them safe. Or to even escape them.
“[Bambi] loves his sister dearly and the journey that he goes on is only because of her,” explains Evans.
“What he does, what he goes through and the decisions he makes are because of her.”
This journey is shared with Evans’ character Bambi by Prince, a fellow soldier and recent brother-in-law, played Game of Thrones and The Haunting of Hill House star Michiel Huisman. This entanglement of their lives, where the professional and private crash into each other, further sets up the conversation of family and the way we navigate its connections especially in the eyes of an outsider.
Evans says that taking on Echo 3 also presented a chance to work with one of the industries most respected writers and producers.
“Boal is a very deep, pensive man who thinks very deeply before answering your questions,” Evans tells ICON Evans. “He knows this world better than anyone I know. We spent hours discussing the characters and the story, discussing the geopolitical and military situations around the world. It was like doing a degree!”
According to Evans, the role was one that required both mental and physical training. Mental, because Echo 3 being a Boal creation isn’t afraid to pry into ground-level political intrigue that stems from real-world occurances. Physical because Evans took his training into the jungles with him to ensure he had the stamina and bulk someone in Bambi’s field would possess. But the initial bulking phase was inspired by our own beach-body community at Sydney’s Bondi Beach.
“I actually started training while I was in Australia!” says Evans. “After wrapping up Nine Perfect Strangers I stayed in Australia for two months so I went to Sydney and everyone looks amazing in Sydney so I thought I better join a gym and get a really good trainer.”
Given the broad variety of roles that Evans has taken on his career, it’s hard to pigeonhole into one particular genre. (Although personally, I’ve always seen him as a true theatre kid, along with fellow Welsh actor Christian Bale.) But if he could choose to stay in one lane for the rest of his career, Evans’ answer is surprising. “At 43, I’m highly aware that doing action constantly isn’t good for one’s body. So maybe I would do it for another 10 years but if I had to choose one, probably comedy. Making people laugh is a really fun thing.”
Before we wrap up, I get to ask Evans the question that’s been burning in the back of my throat since first seeing the preview for Echo 3: who the hell chose the name Bambi?
“Mark [Boal] chose the name Bambi!” laughs Evans. “I asked many times where does this name come from and I sort of had to answer the question myself. Mark didn’t want me to have a reason, so in a way I sort of figured it out myself. In many military situations soldiers are given nicknames and these are often silly or embarrassing.
“But there is actually an answer to that question and I only realised watching the last few episodes so you have to wait to find out!”
Echo 3 starring Luke Evans begins streaming on Apple TV+ this month.