entertainment

'Eurovision' star Dan Stevens on playing a Russian contestant with a big secret

The star of 'Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga' opens up in the Attitude Summer issue.

2020-06-18

Eurovision fans may have been denied the annual musical extravaganza this year (thanks, Ms. Rona), but we are getting our fix of Euro-pop craziness thanks to Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fira Saga.

Starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams are a pair of struggling Icelandic singers who ge the chance to represent their country and the world's most famous music competition, the film - set to hit Netflix on 26 June - sees a host of famous faces including Demi Lovato and Pierce Brosnan get into the Eurovision spirt.

Among them is former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens, who plays Ferrell and McAdams' Russian - or, more specifically, Chechen - Eurovision rival, Alexander Lemtov.

Lemtov is a man who, as Stevens explains in the Attitude Summer issue, out now to download and to order globally, is not necessarily the antagonist you might initially expect.

"He’s the anti-hero. He’s an obstacle for Lars (Ferrell). Lars wants to be Lemtov and there’s tremendous jealousy and he worries he’s going to steal Sigrit (McAdams)" Dan, 37, tells us.

"It was more interesting, though, that he wasn’t there to woo her. He has his issues with his identity and what he’s able to admit to."

Dan proved he could hold a tune in Disney's live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, and while he threw himself into the musical side of Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga, he was also keen to learn more about a competition that champions diversity across a continent where huge disparities remains when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance.

Dan wears Paul Smith (Photography: Doug Inglish)

"It’s unbelievable that there are still countries that don’t acknowledge the existence of certain sexualities: it seems mad to me," he says.

"There are artists in so many countries who can’t admit it [being LGBTQ], because they’d be in danger. But the best thing about Eurovision is that it’s a haven and a celebration. It champions [LGBTQ rights].

"That’s why Alexander is king of the castle there, because it’s a safe space. For that night, they are celebrated."

Dan continues: "Lemtov is from Chechnya. I looked up Kadyrov’s and Putin’s attitude to gay people, and we didn’t want to belittle that danger in any way. We wanted to get it right and hit the right notes.

He adds: "After some of the trailers, people wondered if a Russian villain wasn’t very progressive, but I think once people see the film they’ll realise that wasn’t the case.

Dan wears Paul Smith (Photography: Doug Inglish)

"Although, I will be interested to see how people receive my Chechen accent. ‘Unique’ has four syllables."

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is on Netflix on 26 June.

Attitude and Netflix present the BIG Eurovision Quiz on Saturday 27 June as part of the Attitude Pride at Home virtual festival on the Attitude YouTube channel.

Read the full interview in the Attitude Summer issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £3, or digitally for just £1.54 per issue.