Luke Evans regularly lands roles in blockbuster films and enjoys a glittering musical career. Even more impressively, success has come on his own terms.
He is openly gay – something that he said is not always easy in Hollywood.
“I'm sure many gay actors… still don't feel that they have the strength, or the courage, to come out because they're scared that their career… may be tarnished,” he tells Kate Thornton, in Yahoo UK podcast White Wine Question Time.
He says he hopes he has “broken boundaries and hopefully still will break boundaries, and allow people to see people in a different way.”
“It shouldn't be a thing,” he continues. “It's no one's damn business… and it shouldn't be attached to your talent.”
He adds that “until it isn’t something that people feel the need to bring up, then we haven’t changed enough because it needs to be normal.”
Watch: Luke Evans shares his path to Hollywood fame
Today, Evans is a red carpet regular yet, there was a time when the Welsh actor and singer worked three jobs a day to pay the bills and finance his Hollywood dream. “I lived hand to mouth,” he tells Thornton. “I would do any job to survive.”
Evans’ dreams of an entertainment career began early. “I had it all planned… get a job, start singing lessons and somehow find my way.”
He was 16 when he left his parents’ home in Pontypool, Wales. “I'd have left at 13, if I’d been allowed,” he joked. “The bright lights of London were calling and I'm ready to go!"
Yet, despite winning a job in the West End, pressure grew to pay bills. “Even though I was in musical theatre, they don't get paid a huge amount of money,” Evans revealed.
Evans took on “a lot” of jobs. This included working in a PR agency trying to get “columns” for “Z-list celebrities”.
The irony was not lost on the young actor. “I'm so much more talented than them,” he joked. “I’m actually sitting here… finding work for them.”
When a “big Hollywood agent” signed him, Evans knew it was his chance. To capitalise on it, he would have to spend three months in LA to attend meetings. Yet “without the money, I couldn't go.”
The answer was to work three jobs a day. “In the daytime, I’d go and work as a PA to a restauranteur until 4pm,” he revealed, “then I’d catch the tube into the West End, do the show”. After appearing on stage at night, he would work till 3am on the door of The Shadow Lounge, “the coolest gay club in London at the time.”
It was also a favourite with A-list celebrities.
“There were so many interesting people who used to come in there: Patrick Cox, Elton John, David and Victoria [Beckham],” Evans said. “It makes you dream because some of those people I used to let in had made it, and they were big stars.”
Evans recalled tough nights where “you’re freezing cold, you've had a fag butt thrown at your face… you're drinking somebody else's drink that they've left at the front door because you're thirsty…” Yet instead of feeling demoralised he used the experience as motivation to follow his dream. “One day, it may be me… the red rope will be opened, and I'll go in.”
At 30 years old, the hard work finally paid off. Evans won his first film role in Clash of The Titans.
Now, 43, he's hugely successful and has appeared in the likes of The Hobbit and Fast and Furious franchises, and The Girl on the Train. This Christmas, he stars in the Netflix adaptation of Scrooge, A Christmas Carol alongside Olivia Colman.
Listen to the full episode to hear Luke Evans talk about how he got his big break, how being openly gay has affected his career and the friends he's stuck with throughout his journey to stardom
Evans’ own career path has recently led to the release of a second album, A Song For You, featuring duets with Nicole Kidman and Charlotte Church. At Christmas, he will perform at a BBC Two concert, duetting with a range of stars, from Olly Murs and Beverley Knight, to LeAnn Rimes and Nicole Scherzinger.
In the audience of his show will also be Evans’ family and some of the “amazing” friends he made at 16.
“They are still in my life,” he said. “For me, that means much more than any success is that you hold on to the things that got you there because I feel that that's something that is very easy to forget in this business.”
His remains close to his parents, and has used his success to pay off their mortgage. “You can have all the success in the world,” he told Thornton on White Wine Question Time. “Happiness comes from knowing that your family are healthy and safe.”
With an unstoppable career under his belt, he has come a long away from the young doorman freezing outside a London nightclub, dreaming of the future. He has no regrets about that time in his life.
“I think sometimes work and not the job that you want to do in life, is the thing that kicks you into wanting, to fighting, for the thing that you want to do,” he said. “The most humble of jobs are the ones that educate you the most, because without those jobs… you don't know what it is to struggle.”