British actor Dan Stevens has shown impressive range over the past few years, playing everything from an English lawyer in Downtown Abbey to a Terminator-style American killer in The Guest to whoever-the-hell he is portraying in the new FX superhero show, Legion (we’ll have to get back to you on that). But until he signed on to portray the cursed hero in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, Stevens had never really been called upon to sing.
“I’ve done bits of singing for jobs, but nothing like this,” the actor told EW on the film’s U.K. set in the summer of 2015. “I sang very very badly in an episode of Downton. I did sort-of musicals at school, university. But, no, professionally I haven’t done too much. This is another level, really.”
The Beast doesn’t have his own number in the original 1991 animated classic. But for the live-action version, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Tim Rice have collaborated on a new song for Stevens’ character, called “For Evermore.”
“The Beast didn’t sing in the animated version but he did sing in the stage show version,” said Stevens, referring to the number, “If I Can’t Love Her.” “That song was all about ‘How am I going to fall in love with her?’ and our song is more about ‘I’ve fallen in love with her, and now she’s buggered off, woe is me. It’s a big, romantic, soaring number.”
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So, how did Stevens get his vocal cords in fighting shape?
“I’ve been working quite closely with a brilliant woman from the Royal Academy of Music, [singing coach] Ann-Marie Speed, who’s just fantastic,” Stevens said. “Like a lot of the things I’ve been doing over the last few years, [it’s about] acquiring new skills, or challenging myself to do something I’ve never done before — in this case, challenging myself to do several things I’ve never done before. But it’s really good fun. It’s certainly interesting!”
The actor also received assists from Menken himself. “He’s been great fun to work with,” said Stevens. “He’s like a sort of hyperactive mole, or something. He absolutely blasts melodies left, right, and center. Just going to the recording studio with someone like him is an experience. Who knows, I might end up singing again. I quite enjoy it!”
Beauty and the Beast will be released March 17. You can see the film’s trailer above.