Most viewers probably know Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey, but the actor earned a new legion of gay fans when he emerged from the bathroom in nothing but a towel in the 2014 cult film The Guest.
In the new Netflix original movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Stevens plays Alexander Lemtov, the “prince of Eurovision” who is a Russian tribute to George Michael and is a closeted pop singer, just like the real-life Wham! singer.
Toward the end of the film, Lemtov is asked if he is gay but responds that he can’t be gay because he’s Russian—which is is exactly what the Russian government believes.
“Sadly, we live in a world where some countries and their governments refuse to acknowledge people’s sexuality. They actively try to stamp it out,” Stevens tells NewNowNext. “It was important to acknowledge that, and to remember that Eurovision has for a long time been a safe haven and a safe space for LGBTQ people. It has a massive fanbase all over the world. It is something really worth celebrating and championing.”
Stevens also recalls filming Eurovision’s epic “song along” musical number, which mashes up Cher, Madonna, ABBA, and features past winners from the competition like Conchita Wurst and Netta:
It was an incredible reward for the real superfans, I think. It was an incredible reward for us. We were just living in our own Eurovision bubble that we had created, and then we were actively mixing with real contestants from past contests and they were all so lovely and so excited to be part of it. And they are all incredible singers and to get to sing along with them in such an amazing melody of songs, incredibly arranged… It was really really wild. The crowd was so excited to be witnessing it. It was just bonkers.
To hear more from Stevens, including how George Michael inspired Lemtov’s mane of hair, check out his exclusive interview with NewNowNext in the video below.