Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens.
You left Downton Abbey in 2012, but cousin Matthew’s death still looms large in the cultural consciousness. Do people still stop you in the street and express their grief? Yeah – all over the world, strangely. I take it as a great compliment that people cared about him and that storyline. It speaks for the show, how much a part of people’s lives it became, and it delights me that it did become that successful. You play the Beast in the new live-action version of Beauty And The Beast. Are you worried about angry mobs with pitchforks if fans don’t like it? There’s always going to be people who imagined it differently, but that doesn’t mean it’s any worse for it. It’s an amazing phenomenon. It wasn’t something I could have even conceived of as a child – that there would be the technology for someone like me to play the Beast in a live-action version. It’s incredible. To marry cutting-edge technologies with something so timeless and classic has been awesome. Are your two children overjoyed you’re starring in this movie? I made it very much with them in mind. It’s a story I’ve read to them hundreds of times. It’s big in our household so, in their minds, I’ve already played the Beast several times. As well as Lefou, Maurice, Gaston and all the rest. You must be an epic bedtime story reader. I enjoy it and I hope they enjoy it, too. I love story time. Singer Alicia Keys has said she doesn’t want her sons to watch Snow White because she dislikes its messages about women. Should we hold fairytales to those standards? I think Belle is actually a pretty good role model. She’s fearless, brave and she ultimately helps the Beast remember the better part of his nature – so I think she’s very much to be admired and she’s a different kind of girl from Cinderella or perhaps Snow White. You studied English literature at Cambridge University and your co-star, Emma Watson, is also famously bookish – did you sit around on-set swapping book recommendations? We talked about a lot. She’s an avid reader and I just learnt she’s been leaving books on the subway in New York and London, and writing a little note. Spreading ideas that way is great – she’s a fascinating girl. You’re British, but you’re now based in New York. What do you miss about home? I miss my friends, family; I miss good old-fashioned Indian food – British-indian curry. I don’t miss the weather! New York is an inspiring city. I love raising my kids here. There’s so much for them to see and do and learn. You’re a bona fide heart-throb. Have you had any particularly memorable declarations of love from fans? I got a very sweet fan message from a lady who was probably 96. She said I reminded her of [actor Stewart] Granger from The Man In Grey – I had to look it up, but it was one of the sweetest compliments I ever had, and I subsequently became a fan of The Man In Grey.
``I TAKE IT AS A COMPLIMENT THAT PEOPLE CARED ABOUT COUSIN MATTHEW´´
Beauty And The Beast is in cinemas on March 17.