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Luke Evans Has No Idea What Happened To His Fast & Furious Character: "He's Busy Doing Something"

The Welsh-born actor has a new Apple TV+ series, Echo 3, where he plays a black ops operative who teams up with his brother-in-law to rescue a loved one kidnapped in Colombia. 

Luke Evans Has No Idea What Happened To His Fast & Furious Character: "He's Busy Doing Something"

8days.sg is speaking to Luke Evans over video call from New York, where he is in the midst of doing press for his latest, the Apple TV+ series Echo 3.

As a warm-up, I remind the Pontypool-born actor we’d spoken before — five years ago, at the promo junket for Beauty and the Beast, where he played baddie Gaston.

“Okay, right,” he replied dryly. “Different story now.”

Me: “No, not really. You’re playing another Disney character, Bambi.”

He chuckles. Always a good sign.  (Here’s another Evans-Disney connection: He recently played Coachman in Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio.)

Evans is right: Echo 3 is a different story. The 43-year-old plays a Special Forces operative, Alex, but everyone calls him Bambi, just like that cute deer in the eponymous 1942 Disney classic.

The 10-part political thriller hails from Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning scribe behind The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, and is based on the Israeli series When Heroes Fly.

Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman co-stars as Prince, a fellow black ops specialist, who happens to be married to Bambi’s scientist sister, Amber, portrayed by Jessica Ann Collins.

While researching psychedelic drugs in Colombia, Amber is kidnapped by rebel forces. When the US authorities appear to be dragging their feet in securing her release, Bambi and Prince, brothers-in-law/brothers-in-arms, decide to mount a rescue mission on their own. But unbeknownst to them, there are larger political forces at work.

Here, Evans tells us what attracted him to Echo 3.

8 DAYS: You’re no stranger to action and serialised dramas, so what makes Echo 3 special?

LUKE EVANS: It’s a story I haven’t read before. It’s a character I’ve never played before. It’s a genre which I haven’t really dabbled in massively — the military, geopolitical world.  Essentially, it’s the character [that attracted me] — he’s a brother, a soldier, a protector, a fighter.  

I’ve seen the first five episodes and Echo 3 reminds me of the intensity of Sicario. In what ways has training with the special forces consultants changed your life?

They definitely put me through my paces, both me and Michiel [Huisman]. As hard as it was sometimes — when they were just telling us, “do this, do that”, “no, you're not doing this”, “that's not how it happened”, “this is how it would be”, “this is how you would say this” — it was really a gift to have them there, to be informed by the real deal. I am representing a very specific elite unit of soldiers and I wanted to do the best of my ability to be as authentic as possible. When it came to the training, we enjoyed every second of it. Both Michiel and myself are quite physical, we like staying in shape, and we enjoyed all the challenges of the tactical training and weapon handling and learning to get into their psyches – how they think, how they talk, how they interact, how they deal with knockbacks. It was really impressive to do that and dip into the world of the Special Forces.

What kind of homework did showrunner Mark Boal assign you to watch before filming?

We watched many films, including The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty [both written by Boal]. I watched Black Hawk Down a few times. It was interesting to see the differences between the stories and how they portrayed the characters and how we were going to portray ours. The one thing I think is important about Echo 3 is that it’s very raw. There’s no glamour to the story. It is just real and as real as we possibly could make this fictional story feel. This was what I was drawn to: there was no sensationalism.

Stirs of echoes: Luke Evan, Jessica Ann Collins and Michiel Huisman at the world premiere of Echo 3 at New York City's Walter Reade Theatre on Nov 16.

Echo 3 was shot on location in Colombia, where the story is set. Do you think it would’ve made a difference if it were filmed somewhere closer, say, Puerto Rico?

It made every single moment matter. It made a difference. We never faked a set; we never faked a location. We shot in the jungle, in the communes, in Bogota, at the top of a mountain, in the snow, in the islands, on the water — wherever we were, it was real. And I think that made the show so real and authentic. We worked with incredible  Spanish-speaking directors from South America as well as South American actors who populated this story with such great authenticity. It absolutely mattered greatly that we shot it in the country of Colombia.

One memorable scene in episode 5 has Bambi walking into this town in Venezuela. He’s wearing a singlet, haggard and covered in mud — that didn’t look like an easy day for you. You look like need to shower for a few weeks…

(laughs) Yeah, I’m glad that you said that because that’s how I should look.

You looked miserable!

I was exhausted. There were many moments on this show — because of the heat, the dirt and the sweat and the physical exhaustion of being this character — where you didn't have to dig very deep to feel the lack of energy that Bambi was feeling at that moment. He’s completely alone with nothing. There’s no one there to help him. The army has left. This is a man who instead of giving up does something else. He keeps going. I loved [shooting that sequence]. I was training all the time. I was like doing bands behind the camera. I got my exercise bands; I didn’t stop. Most of the sweat was real, by the way.

You’ve been named as a possible candidate for the next James Bond. But I’m not going to ask you about that. How about a Bond-adjacent question? You just released your second album, A Song for You. Have you thought about doing an album of James Bond theme songs?

Sounds good to me. Yeah, maybe I’ll do that for my third album (laughs). The songs I like to sing usually tell a story, not unlike me telling a story when I play a character on screen, on stage, or on television. There is a similarity. I’m telling a story. I’m an entertainer. I want to move people with my portrayal of a character, be it in a three-minute song or a 10-hour TV show.

Actually, I do have a question about your character, Owen Shaw, in the Fast & Furious saga. You and Jason Statham played siblings. In Hobbs and Shaw, we discover they have a sister, Hattie, played by Vanessa Kirby. But Owen kinda disappeared from the picture after Fast & Furious 8? What the hell happened to him?

I don’t know. He seems to be busy (laughs). He’s busy doing something. I don’t know where the hell he is. But, yeah, who knows? You’re gonna have to ask Universal what they’re thinking. I mean, he’s alive. I don’t know where he is. Probably getting into mischief somewhere in the world.

The first three episodes of Echo 3 are now available on Apple TV+, with new episodes dropping on Fridays.

Photos: Apple TV+

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