Disney is renowned for its slimy, detestable villains. From scarred lions to cackling witches, the animated classics have taken some of the most iconic baddies from traditional fairytales and made them relevant to a new generation.
When bringing those cartoon antagonists to live action adaptations, it's important to flesh out the character to help bring them to life. Luckily, Luke Evans has done just that for his role as Beauty and the Beast's Gaston.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Evans said he'd reworked the egotistical super-creep to appear a lot darker than the Gaston we already love to hate by giving him a complex backstory and some potential mental health issues.
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Gaston's Troubled Past
Make no mistake: this is not going to be the same Gaston from your childhood. Apparently director Bill Condon requested that Evans "play him darker," and even dressed him in blood red to symbolize "the darkness of his character." But what exactly happened to Gaston to make him so troubled?
Evans divulged a bit of backstory for Gaston, which explains both his mental state and his celebrity status amongst his fellow villagers. When he was just 16 years old, Gaston fought off a "pack of Portuguese marauders," essentially saving the entire town. While this did make him quite the local celebrity, the violent ordeal may have caused Gaston to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
"He probably does suffer from PTSD, which he manages to keep under wraps because he has people like the villagers and LeFou and the girls who puff him up and make him feel sexy and wanted. But below that is a broken human being."
Does PTSD Explain Gaston's Problematic Personality?
All too often, villains are slapped with haphazard mental health diagnosis as a means to explain their "evil" behavior. While this may seem like a convenient writing device, it can often produce offensive stereotypes that only further the misconception that people with mental health issues are dangerous or even violent.
However, it's worth noting that Evans doesn't simply attribute Gaston's vicious behavior to a mental health issue. His demanding, macho personality also has a lot to do with his background as a soldier:
"He’s jaded, and the second he realizes that he’s not going to get what he wants, this military creature comes out of him."
This isn't to say that anyone with a military background is an arrogant sexual predator. But it certainly seems that Gaston's had some intense experiences on the battlefield that have caused trauma he's not capable of dealing with, exacerbating his underlying faults. As Evans explains, "the best villains are not villains from the beginning. They turn into villains."
He Might Be The Worst Disney Villain Yet
It goes without saying that Evans is quite fond of his character. In fact, he believes that Gaston is "the biggest villainous threat in any of the Disney films." Why? Because he's human:
"He’s an arrogant, narcissistic, bigoted, chauvinistic, self-absorbed man who, once he’s told no, is driven by jealousy and revenge to fuel the fear of quite an idiotic group of villagers to go kill something they’ve never seen before. I mean, it resonates massively to what’s happening in the political climate throughout the world now."
Evans could be hinting at a certain president with that political comment, but he didn't name an names. He did, however, make the following observation on the comical aspect of Gaston:
"He’s somebody to laugh at… but I wanted to enjoy those moments because then the reveal of this insane monster that he becomes is even more terrifying. I think that’s why he was always such a great villain."
What do you think of Luke Evans' portrayal of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)