luke evans in the hobbitIn movies as furiously energetic and visually embellished as Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," it's hard to single out a specific performance or actor, who could be deemed for future super-stardom. But that's exactly what has happened with Luke Evans, the charismatic British actor who essays the character of Bard the Bowman in Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy, which finally wraps up with "Battle of the Five Armies," a film that kicks off with a thrilling sequence pitting Evans and his son against the horrible dragon Smaug (voiced deliciously by Benedict Cumberbatch).

Evans is a lovely guy, and we got a chance to sit down with him in London, during the final big press push for the final movie of the trilogy. We talk about what it was like finally seeing the sequence with Smaug, what he'd like to see in the extended edition of the movie, and what his plans are for the future of the Universal Monsters (he starred as the titular blood-sucker in Universal's "Dracula Untold" earlier this year).

Moviefone: In the press conference, Martin Freeman talked about how he was able to adjust his performance as the series went along. Is that something that you did? Or did you chart a course and stick to that?

Luke Evans: No. The film is too big to have completely charted the course and stayed with it. You had to take every beat as it came and deal with that moment, one by one. I think, as an actor, you know the full story but I think it can be to your detriment to be thinking about the end when you're at the beginning. You have to appreciate every beat of your character's journey. And then you will organically move through it and change and evolve and I'm sure who I was at the end of the third movie, obviously there are the obvious story points that I am different, but I think the way I react to anybody who I was with at the beginning of the second film, the way I'm reacting to people at the end of the third film, like Alfred, is very different. And the way I'm with my children -- this desperate love he has for them and the fact that he has protected them right to the end. I feel that there's an even more immense bond between him and his children. Peter always impressed on me that the main drive for Bard was to protect his children. But it's interesting -- I think you should take every beat and enjoy it.

You filmed that big scene on the tower four years ago...

Four years ago. Isn't that insane?

What'd you think when you finally saw it?

I knew it was going to be a big moment, but I loved how it looked and how it felt and the score that Howard Shore put behind it -- it really worked. There was a big discussion whether Bane should be involved in the firing of the black arrow -- would a father put his son in that position knowing the high risk of fatality. But we all came to agreement that in that situation he would, of course he would. The son can't leave at that point and he almost loses him over the side but I think that Bard has one chance, he probably doesn't think he's going to do it, and if he doesn't, he's going to die, and he wants his son to be with him. His son brought that arrow to him so I suppose he involves him in a very father/son way. It's a beautiful moment and Peter scripted that as we were doing that. I remember him saying to me, try this: "Keep looking at me, son." And it is the sort of thing you'd say to a child if you knew the end of the world was coming, "Just hold me and look at me and I love you and always well." That was a very poignant moment and I love that.

It is what makes the scene really come to life.

I think so.

Was Benedict there, stomping around?

No. He hadn't even arrived in New Zealand yet.

What'd you think after seeing him?

That was something that had been done way after the fact. That was something Peter imagined after the event. And it works perfectly. It's brilliant that they have this dialogue and that the dragon really gets under his skin and says, "Your son is going to burn in fire" and all of that stuff. It worked so well. Why ignore that his son is there, when you can needle him? He's an evil, intelligent reptile.

Were you always a big Tolkien fan?

I wouldn't say that. I loved "Lord of the Rings" although I didn't read the whole trilogy but I watched them many times. So I didn't read the books but I know I'm not the only one in the "Hobbit" cast so I don't feel too bad saying that now. I read "The Hobbit." "The Hobbit" is very easy to read. It's a beautiful book. But I'm a bigger fan but it's not like I wasn't a fan before, that sounds too negative. I wasn't a super nerd.

You weren't like Stephen Colbert at Comic-Con?

No. No. That was quite a trip.

How do you feel now, looking back on it?

I think I prepared myself to be recognized as this character for a very long time. And that's a lovely thing. Some actors go through their lives and have their careers and are never remembered for a single performance or a single character they've played. I know there's a very good chance that I'll be remembered for this more than anything else I do in my career and if that's the case I'm absolutely fine with it. It's a great role and I'm very proud of how I played it and who he is and what part he plays in this amazing story. So it's fun. I guess my family and the kids in my family will see this and their friends will see this and they'll be able to say their uncle Luke is Bard the Bowman.

You'll be cool forever!

I hope so! I could use some cool points.

Peter always does these expanded editions of the movies. Anything you're particularly interested in seeing get back into the longer version?

Yeah, there are a couple of scenes that I know will go back in. I think the rooftop sequence will be expanded. There are some action moments that he'll put back in. That's exciting. Peter invests as much effort and passion into that director's cut as he would the film. After doing all of this work for all of these years and the final cut of the film is in the cinemas, he's going to go back into the cutting room and add all of this stuff for another four months. The commitment and dedication he has to all of this makes us actors seem a little halfhearted. We just left it and dress up smart and go down the red carpet and have our pictures taken. But the amount of work Peter has put in after we left, not just Peter obviously but the enormous team of super-talented people from around the world, you just think: hats off to them.

The battle sequence is 45 minutes long and your section is only a small portion. What did you think when you saw the rest of it?

What surprised me and what I was relieved by was, you often see movies and the battle scenes are amazing but they're completely anonymous. They're just a spectacle to look at. You just see anybody killed. But what Peter did, very cleverly, was involve the principle characters in the battle. So, yes, it's spectacular but there's a master shot where you see this incredible geography and these armies colliding but then you'd see Gandalf and Bilbo and then you'd jump to Bard and Percy and one of the Laketowners doing their thing... And by doing that, he gave these little personal landmarks throughout the battle where you feel that Peter isn't just interested in the spectacle, he's still focused on the story and the heart and soul of the characters that make up the story. That impressed me the most. And one other thing I want to say is the way they set up the land around Dale and all around, I don't think anybody would be confused as to where they were coming from. A lot of time in battles you don't know who's killing who or where they're coming from. I totally understood where everybody was going. And I didn't know that before yesterday. But it's very clear -- the Elves and the Ironhill Dwarves, it was all very clear. I thought it must have been a humongous challenge but it really worked.

Another spectacular movie you did earlier this year was "Dracula Untold." The plan seems to be that you'll come back and factor into other monster movies. Have they told you anything?

Yeah. There have been lots of discussions. I think there are some very big plans there. If they do come to fruition and I am invited back to play that character, I'd be very happy to do so. He's an immortal character and where we leave the movie, where he's in modern day, the potential is huge.

Even from the press notes it seems like you shot a very different movie than ended up on the screen. Charles Dance is credited as Caligula.

Well, he's not Caligula anymore. Caligula disappeared. Baba Yaga went as well.

Was that version more horrific?

No, I don't think it was more horrific. I want to say that the two actors who played those roles were incredible. The reason that those characters are no longer in the film has nothing to do with their performances. It has to do with the pace and the drama of the film. The narrative was being diluted so it was about making the story economic and well-paced. We didn't want this period drama to turn into a slow, expositional thing... Which period drama often can. We felt like, if we did anything with the Dracula film, we kept it pace-y, when it could have been very slow. Sadly, they were victim to that, nothing else. I think the director's cut and the extras on the DVD, we will see clips of those things, because the effort you would just not believe -- we spent weeks shooting those things. But it happens on movies. It's awful. People have invested their time and talent and effort into these things. It was very unfortunate. But they're just brilliant.

Did you go to the "Dracula Untold" haunted house at Universal?

No -- was it good?

Yeah, it was great. And people say that Mr. Jackson has talked to Universal about bringing the "Hobbit" characters there. What ride would you like to see?

I think the obvious one would be the barrel ride. That's the obvious one that could be perfectly adapted to a ride. And you could have orcs running over the cliffs next to you and you could have Bard the Bowman at the end. The potential is incredible. But Ian was saying that it would be incredible to create a world-like place where you could go and really experience the world of Middle Earth -- the smell and you could touch things and eat the food of Bilbo's house. I think there's a big enough fanbase that something like that would be really good.

What will you miss the most from your "Hobbit" experience?

The people -- the fun on set and the people. They made it. I have fond memories of each and every one of those people and as a collective. We've had really wonderful moments. And I've stayed friends with them, moreso than anything else I've done in my career. Which is amazing. But I guess after you spend a year with each other and you're detached from your own life, it does have an effect. You're forced to get along with these people every day, but they're all so nice. And that really comes down to the casting that Fran [Walsh] and Peter and Philippa [Boyens] and they knew what they were doing -- personalities that could work well away from home and not disrupt the tranquility of the set. There was never any shouting or aggression. Peter wants to go to work and have fun on a scale that is unprecedented.

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" is in theaters now.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Movie Poster
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
PG-132014
Based on 45 critics

Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)... Read More

categories Interviews, Movies