Things you didn't know about Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens was born in Croydon, England on October 10, 1982 and was bitten by the acting bug early on in his life. He trained at the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, studied English Literature at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and took part in many student productions.

In 2002, at the age of 14, he was cast to play Macbeth in Marlowe Dramatic Society's production of William Shakespeare's classic play. That was a real turning point for the budding actor and he sure hasn't slowed down since, going on to land roles in 2010's Downton Abbey and 2017's Beauty and the Beast remake. As his star continues to rise and burn brighter than ever, here are 10 things you should know about Dan Stevens.

He was adopted

Stevens was born in 1982 in Croydon, England and, at just seven days old, was adopted by two school teachers. They later adopted another boy and, as he told The Telegraph, his adoption was never kept secret. "People like to pathologise adoption, but actually there is no conventional way to be brought up," he said.

"People can have biological parents who are absent for whatever reason during their childhood, and their parenting can be replaced by any number of people," continued Stevens. "Adoption is just one of many ways that children get nurtured and loved and end up as human beings who are every bit as interesting and whatever as regular children."

His first role was in a Hallmark production

Like all actors, Stevens began small and built his career slowly over time. His very first role was that of Dr. Henry Clerval in a TV mini series retelling of Frankenstein. First airing in the US in October 2004, the movie was the latest in a line of adaptations of Mary Shelley's classic novel about a scientist who brings to life a monster he built in his lab. The filming took place in August 2003 when, on summer break from university, Stevens traveled to Slovakia to star in the Hallmark production.

​He left Downton Abbey for fear of being typecast

At the height of his popularity on Downtown Abbey, Stevens, who portrayed Matthew Crawley, was killed off to many fans' shock and surprise. As it turned out, the decision was completely his and it came down to a fear of being typecast. Before starting work on the third season (his last), Stevens chose to pull the plug. "We were always optioned for three years and when that came up it was a very difficult decision," he explained. "But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."

"It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be," he added. "It is a desire for freedom, really. I don't see money or a particular status as an actor as a goal but I want to do the best work I can in as interesting a range of roles as I can. And I think a moment like this is quite unique and presents those opportunities more than ever before."

He had a (playful) feud with Mark Ruffalo

While filming Beauty and the Beast, Stevens was exposed to the future of movie-making technology. "It was my face driving that digital mesh," he explained of the innovative process. "Once I got my head around the technology, which initially was terrifying for everybody concerned because it's never been used this extensively before. I had to believe – and everybody had to believe."

A fact that actually sparked a (playful) feud between Stevens and Mark Ruffalo "who had done something similar for Hulk, but not exactly the same. He told me it would be impossible, which was frankly a spur," Stevens told Uproxx. "So, if nothing else, I feel like I really want to take him to see the movie and see what he thinks."

​He's super health-conscious

Following his move from London to New York City, Stevens began to pay more attention to health and fitness. "I didn't take very good care of myself when I lived in London," he told The Telegraph, joking that "under three layers of tweed, you can hide a lot of ills!"

Nowadays, he swims, does yoga and goes to the gym regularly and, as far as his diet is concerned, he stays away from all dairy. His time at the gym also helped Stevens prepare for his most demanding role: playing the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. "I developed really good core strength. It helped with the breathing, it helped with the singing," he said. Plus, it helped him strengthen his legs enough to endure filming in 10-inch stilts, which he described as "metal, elevated platforms that were extremely painful and hard to walk in."

He edits a literary magazine

In 2013, Stevens joined the team behind literary magazine The Junket (which was established in 2011 to enable writers to share essays on topics that interest them most, which they aren't able to publish elsewhere) in the role of Editor-at-Large.

He also contributes to the publication as a writer. In his first issue as Editor-at-Large, Stevens published an essay titled 'Looking After #numbertwo' in which he examined our ties to technology. "Try one piece; then try two; then offer to a friend. The Junket is delicious enjoyed alone; better shared," Stevens wrote as part of his Editor's Note.

​He thinks he's more attractive as the Beast

Speaking with Yahoo! UK, Stevens' Beauty and the Beast costar, Emma Watson, revealed that she found the Beast much more attractive than his human counterpart. "There's something a bit sad about when he transforms," she said. "You're a bit like, 'Oh, okay, you were quite nice before.' He's hot. The Beast is hot."

Good thing for Stevens, he totally agrees. Asked about the comment by ELLE, the actor admitted, "I know that it's quite a common thing for the animated version, for people to be upset when the Beast turns back into a prince because people fall in love with the Beast, you know? So it'll be interesting to see if people feel the same way about our Beast. And, you know, I don't blame them. He's cute."

He's a successful audiobook narrator

In addition to acting, being a doting dad and working for a lit mag, Stevens is also a passionate and successful audiobook narrator, having narrated 24 titles as of 2017. "It's really fun and you are basically directing, casting, and performing an entire production of a book on your own," he said, revealing what appeals to him most about the gig.

"Some of the books I've done have 70, 80 different voices in them. It's a challenge, but it's also really fun. You go through them and you prepare and you make little notes for who's going to sound like what. I really, really love it. And any actors who are curious about it, I would recommend trying it."

"When you hear a well-read book, it's a really special thing," he added. "For a start, you're doing something extraordinary. There are a lot of people who either can't read or don't have time to read the book itself, and you are responsible for bringing that to life, and that's a huge responsibility and also a great privilege."

​Family is the most important thing in his life

Whether it be his parents or his wife and children, family holds a very special and important place in Stevens' heart. Describing his mom and dad's influence on his career choice, the actor has said: "They loved going to the theatre and they watched television and movies, so I was raised on a cultural diet of books, of literature, and also of performance, of watching great movies and plays."

Then there's his wife, South African jazz singer Susie Hariet, whom Stevens met when he was just 23 years old while the two were working in the theater scene in Sheffield. The couple tied the knot in 2009 and, that same year, they welcomed their first child, daughter Willow, into the world. "If it feels right, it feels right. We fell in love and that was it," Stevens has said. In 2012, their family grew even bigger with the arrival of son Aubrey.

​He ate four roast dinners a day while filming Beauty and the Beast

"It was a pretty athletic job for me," Stevens told Britain's Radio Times, speaking about what it took to transform into the Beast. "I was physically conditioning my legs to be on stilts for 12 hours a day and also conditioning the rest of me so that I didn't waste away – I was losing so much fluid from sweating."

Tasked with wearing a heavy muscle vest to resemble the Beast, the actor explained that he had to up his calorie intake just to maintain his weight and not "waste away." He revealed: "I would overheat, especially when we were dancing. I was honestly eating four roast dinners every day, just to keep any form of physicality."

Recommended