Dan Stevens was just tapped to play Beast in the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, but fans not familiar with his work on Downton Abbey may need an introduction to the handsome and dapper British actor.
The 32-year-old actor was best known for his role as Matthew Crowley on the PBS period drama, but has been a veteran of stage and screen in Britain for much longer than that.
Here are five other facts fans should know about the new Beauty and the Beast star:
1. He’s adopted
Dan was adopted at birth by two parents who were both teachers, and raised in Wales and Southeast England.
Stevens said it was his adoptive parents that helped put him on the path to acting.
“I’m very grateful to my mum and dad for adopting me – they’re completely incredible people,” he said. “It was my dad who encouraged me to question everything, to forge my own path, to think, to read. I always felt it was my right to question everything.”
2. He was a bit of a rebel as a teen
Though Stevens now has a reputation for being a hard-working and reliable actor, that wasn’t always the case. Stevens said he had a difficult childhood.
“Not a lot of people would think that I spent most of my early years totally rebelling against anything I could, getting suspended from school, going on demonstrations,” he told the MailOnline in 2011. “I was a pretty difficult teenager.’
Stevens said he got in trouble a lot in his private boarding school, where he always felt like a misfit with the more well-to-do students.
“I didn’t get on with the other kids, I didn’t fit in,” he said. “My parents (both of whom are teachers) thought it was an amazing opportunity for me, but I felt quite isolated. There were a lot of very rich children there and that did something to me. I spent most of my time running away, causing problems.”
3. His wife is his biggest fan
Stevens met his wife, Susie Hariet, in 2006, when they were each performing at different theaters in Sheffield. Dan was appearing in The Romans while his wife, a South African jazz singer and music instructor, was appearing in a musical.
They hit it off, and three years later they were married.
Dan Stevens said it is wonderful being married to someone who understands what a life in show business entails.
“I’m lucky to be married to someone who entirely gets what I do. She is totally sympathetic to the actor’s life. Her own mother was an actress, so she sort of grew up with it,” he told The Telegraph. “She has absolutely no concept of the British class system and, after 10 years here she’s still trying to work it out. I suppose it was refreshing to meet someone who had the same level of bemusement about it as me.”
The couple has a daughter named Willow and a son named Aubrey.
4. Fans hated how his character left Downton Abbey
When Dan Stevens decided he would be leaving Downton Abbey, the show’s writers decided to dispose of him in the most dramatic way possible — a dramatic, out-of-the-blue car crash that killed the popular character.
It caused a firestorm on Twitter, and even famous tween writer R.L. Stine criticized it.
“This episode felt dramatically all wrong,” Stine said. “It left me feeling very angry. It came out of the blue. It wasn’t earned in any way. It felt cheap and silly and very unimaginative. Go ahead, replace the actor. It is always done on soap operas.”
The fans grew so loud in their criticism that the show’s creator, Julian Fellowes, took to Facebook to explain that Crowley was only killed because Dan Stevens was leaving the show
5. He’s stepping into a very important role
The role of Beast in the live-action Beauty and the Beast was considered a very coveted role, and it’s seen as quite a coup that Stevens was able to land it.
Disney has been doing a batch of live-action re-boots of its popular animated movies and found some success in doing it. Last year’s Maleficent, a live-action take on Sleeping Beauty, made $758.4 million worldwide.
Many believe this could be the breakout role for Dan Stevens.
[Image via TellySpotting]