When I previously shared my history of celebrity crushes on this blog, I left off with Jamie Dornan, knowing that there would eventually be someone new to add to the list in the future. I tend to collect cinematic crushes. I’ll see someone in a movie that really sparks my fancy, which then leads to a manic bout of researching his past roles and getting a feel for his off screen personality through interviews and career related appearances. Sometimes I’ll join fandoms related to him or his characters in order to share my newfound interest with other fans, and other times I’ll just fangirl on my own (i.e. flood my Twitter and friend groups with pictures and videos of said new crush) Some of these crushes burn out after six months or so, while others stick around for years before the shine starts to fade and I get enraptured by someone new. I’ve recently become enraptured by someone new, and his name is Dan Stevens.
Most people know Dan from his time as Matthew Crawley on ‘Downton Abbey’. I am one of the scant few who have never watched that show. not one episode.
I did recently watch a trailer for the series, so I at least know the premise now. I don’t live under a rock, I have heard of it, but I’m always reluctant to jump into anything that’s popular just for popularity’s sake. I’d much rather stumble across it on my own before it’s gained a heavy following, or years later when the hype has died down. So I found Dan through the FX show ‘Legion’ instead.
I really enjoy the Marvel comic book inspired movies. X-Men, Captain America, The Avengers, and to a lesser extent the DC side of things like Superman and Batman. When I started watching Legion, I didn’t realize it was a tie in to the X-men franchise. I saw ads for it during the Superbowl and it intrigued me, so I set the DVR to record the first episode. That first episode was… odd. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue but I gave it a chance, and from the second episode onward, I was hooked. Eventually I realized it was indeed a tie in to the X-men and that ‘David’ wasn’t really crazy but a mutant instead.
I wasn’t familiar with the Legion comics though, so I was pretty much in the dark concerning his story. I just wanted to find out who that creepy dude was who kept popping up in the corner of all his memories, and what the bobble-head Hitler was trying to distract us from. It was confusing and trippy and sweet and fun and I just couldn’t get enough of it! I didn’t watch/read any of the press concerning the show, and I’m glad of that. Not knowing beforehand what David was capable of or who his father just so happened to be, made it more exciting for me.
As the 8 episode season of ‘Legion’ was winding down, I Googled Dan Stevens to learn more about who he was. Surprise number one: he’s British! His American accent was superb, I never would have guessed that it wasn’t natural. I have a thing for accents, I find the differences in regional dialects really interesting, so I was impressed with Dan’s ability in this area. Surprise number two: he was portraying ‘The Beast’ in the new live-action remake of Disney’s ‘Beauty and The Beast’ with Emma Watson.
My daughter expressed a veiled interest in seeing it (she’s 12 going on 16, so she didn’t want to seem too interested) after finding out Dan was in it, I agreed to take her. I had seen the animated version but I wasn’t sentimentally attached to it; I was 16 years old when it was released and hadn’t actually seen it until years later. I really like the new version though, I was smiling throughout the whole thing. I happen to love Disney and drag my kids to Disney World every few years, when I’m sure they’d rather go to amusement parks filled with thrill rides instead. I had already started my ‘research’ into Dan by this time and so was trying to spot his personal facial expressions in the beast. I found a few but mostly because I was specifically looking for them. Afterwards I came home and gobbled up all the promo interviews he did for Beauty and The Beast, learning about the physical hardships he had to go through in order to portray this motion capture/CGI version. I was doubly impressed.
Now I was in full ‘research’ mode, hunting down photoshoot pictures, past interviews, and anything that gave me insight into who Dan was. I found his personality infectious
his eyes mesmerizing
his facial expressions addicting
and his talent for voices (and fashion) thoroughly enjoyable.
I had learned that he attended school with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and Eddie Redmayne. His natural accent sounded posh to the ear but he didn’t seem so in the videos that I was seeing. His presence felt familiar, not intimidating. I know he’s smart, with a literary degree, an online writing publication, and had even been a Man Booker Prize judge, but he seems so unassuming.
Yesterday I decided to watch his 2014 movie ‘The Guest’. It sounded like something I would enjoy, a creepy throwback to a 1980s-style thriller. So I settled down to watch, with apprehensive expectations. I expected cheesy, I expected over the top sound effects, I expected mediocre performances. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, or to be so impressed with Dan’s performance.
The sound effects were over the top, but enticingly so. The humor was subtle, in that delicious way that is sometimes hard to catch. I laughed out loud during so many scenes; maybe I just have a twisted sense of humor. I didn’t find ‘David Collins’ all that creepy. A bit off his rocker, certainly, but I wouldn’t back out of a room he was in.
I particularly liked the scene where David blew up the diner. The choice of background music, his facial expression before he does the deed, and then the way he quickly limps out the door. That whole scene cracked me up! (warning: scene contains violence)
I also really liked the pumpkin carving scene. The way David flicks that knife around and the brother’s reaction to it (the brother has great reactions to David’s unstable demeanor) and the advice he gives him about how to go about handling bullies.
The scene where David buys a gun is a high point as well (one of those unexpected moments of violence that made me laugh out loud in shock), and the drink orders before the bar fight scene, can’t forget those!
edited to add: the video I originally linked to was removed. this one shows the scene I want but it has commentary talking over it, so I’ll quote the dialogue below the video.
David: I can’t help but notice that those ladies over there are drinking cheap beer, that seems like a shame to me, I’d like to buy each one of them a blowjob shot.
Bartender: are you serious?
David: I am. yes.
Bartender: do you wanna buy anything for their fellas?
David: do I look like I’d like to buy something for their fellas?
Bartender: it might be the polite thing to do.
David: sure. okay, fine. get each one of those guys a cosmopolitan.
Bartender: mister, I don’t know what you’re going for but I was thinking a beer.
David: blowjob shots for the ladies, and a cosmopolitan for each of the guys. you can keep the change on that.
Bartender: you got it.
The shoot out scenes were particularly enjoyable too, a definite throwback to the 80’s. The excessive amount of bullets being bounced around in slow motion, and the way David dives through the window and then army crawls through the house.
Aside from all the fun though, I thought Dan’s acting was very impressive in this, as was his accent. The Southern American accent always seems to trip people up. It either sounds too drawn out, like you’re going to fall off your seat waiting for them to finish a sentence, or it’s a caricature of a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. Dan’s, on the other hand, was entirely believable and very easy on the ears. I quite liked hearing him talk in that accent. I had to repeatedly remind myself that it wasn’t his real accent! Truthfully, if it wasn’t for his striking blue eyes, I wouldn’t have known it was the same guy who portrays David Haller on ‘Legion’.
This crush on Dan Stevens is relatively new for me. I still need to catch up on his past work, read more interviews, see more photoshoots, etc. but I feel very confident placing Dan on my Cinematic Crush list. Legion isn’t returning until next year!
So I will look forward to his other future projects, and furthering my growing admiration for this talented man.