British actor Luke Evans felt snubbed when he was first offered the role of villain Gaston in Beauty And The Beast, because he thought he should play the titular hero.
The Hobbit star admits he had imagined himself portraying the Beast in the live-action version of the Disney classic, but after revisiting the 1991 animated original, he realized tackling vain hunter Gaston would be a lot more fun, creatively.
"When they (producers) came to me with the role, they were like, 'We wanna see you for Gaston'," Luke recalled to breakfast show Good Morning America, "and I was like, 'Yeah, but the Beast is the main character. Why am I not allowed to play the Beast?'
"But I watched it with my godchildren, because I hadn't seen it for ages, and I thought, 'My God, this character is huge, I could do something great with this.' So it was actually re-watching the animation that sold it to me, actually watching him (Gaston) looking at himself in the mirror and telling him how beautiful he was to himself, I was like, 'OK, this is gonna be fun!'"
Luke enjoyed pushing the boundaries of his character so much, he "didn't want it to finish".
He continued, "He's a total idiot, but just so much fun. He's the lovable rogue of the village... makes a complete idiot of himself, and then you see this man become a complete monster throughout the film, so it was great..."
Beauty and the Beast reunited Luke with his The Hobbit co-star Ian McKellen, as Cogsworth the clock, while former Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens was cast as the Beast, opposite Emma Watson as the beauty Belle.
The film also features Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Josh Gad, and the stellar cast made life on set a real joy for Luke, who ranks the movie "very, very near the top, if not the top" of his best filming experiences to date.
"You're bringing an animated character that people have known for so long to life, and it's an honor, but it's so much fun," he added.
The role also gave Luke the opportunity to return to his musical theater roots, after having graced the West End stage early on in his career in hit musicals like Rent, Miss Saigon, and Avenue Q.
He said, "Singing was my first love... and I wanted to bring it back, and it was nice to be able to merge the film career with the musical theater career and this was it, this was the role."