Those of you who either became a fan of Dan Stevens for his time on “Downton Abbey” or for his performance as the cursed prince in the new live-action “Beauty and the Beast” can check out his latest work starting Friday, April 7. Stevens stars in “The Ticket,” which will be released in major markets and through Video on Demand.
Stevens plays a man blind since childhood who miraculously recovers his sight. His marriage and friendships suffer when he becomes more driven at work and with other women.
The plots for “The Ticket” and “Beauty and the Beast” sound like opposites, but Stevens sees them as very similar productions.
“Both are fables. ‘The Ticket’ is a dark kind of fairy tale, but it deals with the kind of symbols that you find in fairy tales,” Stevens says. “Blindness has been used throughout literature as a symbol for great affect.
“It was an interesting and surprising thing to deal with a character who has his prayers answered, and it’s not all good. In that way, it also feels like a horror story.”
Stevens worked on “The Ticket” before he stepped into a pair of stilts to star in “Beauty and the Beast.” Both films gave him the chance to play a flawed man who looks for redemption through a beautiful woman. In “Beast” that was Emma Watson, while Malin Akerman (“Watchmen”) co-starred with him in “The Ticket.”
The complexity in which Akerman played her role impressed Stevens. She’s not just a beauty who must deal with the beast that comes out of her husband once he regains his sight, but she also must show the kind of compassion that would make her begin and stay with the complicated relationship.
The physical part of “The Ticket” wasn’t a problem as Stevens didn’t have to deal with his character being blind. He did have a lot of physical challenges while working on “Beauty and the Beast.”
To create the impressive physique of the Beast, Stevens had to wear a muscle suit and walk on stilts. The British actor has been working in films and on TV since 2004 but has never had to face physical demands like those in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Stevens says he was ready to play the Beast because he has taken a more physical approach to the roles he’s been playing in recent years. The back story created for the Beast was that he was a dancer, so Stevens trained himself like a dancer. The physicality of the role also made Stevens a threat to the rest of the cast.
“There was a lot of work dancing in stilts. And getting to know Emma, first and foremost, on the dance floor was probably, I think it’s a great way to get to know your costar. I’m going to try and do that with every movie I do now, whether there’s a waltz in the movie or not,” Stevens says. “The trust that Emma had to place in me that I wouldn’t break her toes.”
Stevens has survived and continues to work on projects that test him physically, including his role in the TV series “Legion.” The cable series just got a second season order so he will be back to work on that project soon.
Talk, talk, talk
Rachel Dratch goes to work when everyone else on “Imaginary Mary” is done. Because the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member provides the voice for the computer-generated title character on the new ABC comedy, she doesn’t record her lines until after all of the live-action footage has been shot.
Despite being in a booth by herself long after the rest of the cast and crew have wrapped, Dratch still feels a connection to the show, especially to the character played by Jenna Elfman. The “Dharma & Greg” star plays an independent woman whose childhood imaginary friend comes back to dish out advice.
“I would record seeing the scenes already shot, but I felt like I was acting with Jenna, because I had the advantage of seeing her on the screen right there. So they play her line right before I said mine,” Dratch says. “I felt like I had this sort of fake give-and-take with the actors that were already up there.
“Just like in any voiceover, you try different ways. I had that luxury that you might not have if you’re just on set and you have to get things done. So I have the freedom to go crazy.”
As for her own experiences with imaginary friends, Dratch says she never had one.
Coming back: CBS has given early renewals to 18 returning series for the 2017-2018 season. Those shows include: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Blue Bloods,” “Bull,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “Life in Pieces,” “MacGyver,” “Madam Secretary,” “Man With a Plan,” “Mom,” “NCIS, “ NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Scorpion,” “Superior Donuts,” “Survivor,” “48 Hours” and “60 Minutes.”
Dog’s life: Disney Junior’s new animated series “Puppy Dog Pals,” created by comedian Harland Williams, debuts at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 14 with two back-to-back episodes on the Disney Channel. The show follows two pug brothers, Bingo and Rolly, whose thrill-seeking appetites take them on adventures throughout their neighborhood and around the globe.