Luke Evans was surprised when he wasn't offered the role of the Beast in 'Beauty and the Beast'.

Luke Evans

Luke Evans

The 37-year-old actor has won over fans and critics with his portrayal of Belle's would-be suitor Gaston, but he admitted that he originally had his eye on the leading man role, taken by Dan Stevens.

He told Digital Spy: "I did wonder why they hadn't offered me the Beast but they came straight for Gaston.

"The casting director knew Gaston was for me. I came in at the 11th hour, and it was always going to be Gaston, but it was hard to get my head around because he's a freak of nature, isn't he?

"He's a larger than life man."

However, Luke is now thrilled that he got to play Gaston and relished portraying the character on-screen.

He said: "I went with the Gaston character and relished every minute of who he is and what he stands for, and the bad parts of him, and all the funny parts of it.

"I think people are going to love it, I really do. I've seen it and it just takes you to that place, that magical Disney place. It's so huge and the film is so beautiful and expansive and it just looks fantastic on the big screen. It just looks amazing."

Meanwhile, Luke recently insisted it is a "compliment" to be "objectified" as a sex symbol.

The actor is astonished by some of the comments he receives from fans online, and though he acknowledges he's sometimes been asked to flash the flesh where it wasn't entirely necessary for a scene, he understands that "sex sells" and his "public persona" needs to be appealing.

He said: "On social media, people are very brave and say things that if they were in a room with you, they probably wouldn't.

"In terms of being 'objectified', there are certain jobs where I've been like, 'There's no need to do this scene topless.' But sex sells. I don't take it too seriously.

"In our business, you have a public persona - fans are going to look at us in roles and maybe objectify us. It's a compliment and I take it as such."