PONTYPOOL-born movie star Luke Evans has said growing up as a Jehovah's Witness was great preparation for Hollywood because it taught him to develop a "thick skin".

The Beauty And The Beast star, 40, was born in Pontypool, and raised in the nearby Rhymney Valley by his religious parents.

But Mr Evans, who has also appeared in The Girl On The Train and High-Rise, left home at 16 to pursue a career in singing and acting.


He said the Jehovah's Witnesses' practice of door-to-door preaching had taught him how to deal with "having a door slammed in your face".

Speaking on Jessie Ware's Table Manners podcast, he said: "Every couple (of) weeks you'd get a letter saying you'd have to go up to the front and tell everyone what the religion meant to you.

"And you'd effectively have to write your own script and then stand up in front of 200 people on a Thursday night or a Sunday and you'd have to speak to them and learn how to present yourself.

"Then you would be critiqued where they'd tell you you need to work on empathy or illustration or gestures. It was all very specific.

"In a way I would never say that any of that upbringing had any detrimental effect on what I ended up doing and you know, having a door slammed in your face which happened regularly on the door-to-door work was great prep on getting a thick skin when becoming an actor."

The Hollywood actor is preparing to release his debut album, titled At Last, a collection of covers, on Friday, November 22.

Alongside stars including Helena Bonham Carter and Jim Broadbent, Evans also appeared on BBC Children In Need's Got It Covered album.

He said his parents had been "a little worried" when he left the faith, which is a denomination of Christianity that does not celebrate Christmas or Easter.

But he said he had been "itching" to move on and felt he had "never really fitted into the valley life".


He said: "I love Wales but it really never felt like me and I remember whenever we would go to London to watch a show, just getting on that train at Hemel Hempstead or St Albans, and then you'd catch the Underground and you'd go underground and then you'd come up and you'd be in Piccadilly Circus and my heart rate would go up."

Evans said he suffered guilt in the years after leaving his parent's community.

"I was brought up as a Jehovah's Witness," he said.

"I'm not one anymore but my parents are ... I was a Jehovah's Witness for 16 years.

"My first birthday was when I was 18 and I had so much guilt.

"Even though I hadn't been a Witness for over two years I just thought this is weird and that this feels so strange. It was the same with Christmas and Easter."