By Andy Tong

NOVEL APPROACH Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens

FORMER Tonbridge School pupil Dan Stevens is the star of one of this Christmas’s biggest cinematic releases.

The man who played Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey has now taken on the role of Charles Dickens in the film The Man Who Invented Christmas.

The 35-year-old depicts the author as he struggles to conjure up fresh stories but then creates his masterpiece A Christmas Carol in 1843.

“This isn’t a reverential biopic,” Dan explains. “It’s the story of a gifted artist’s creative drive and the pressure he puts on himself to produce.” In director Bharat Nalluri’s film Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge as he taunts Dickens about his writer’s block.

Stevens supplied the voice of the Beast in this year’s animated movie Beauty and the Beast, and has been working in Hollywood. “Since going to the States I’ve been challenging myself in all different directions and have been lucky enough to find people who are prepared to see me try those things,” he says.

“They make more things over there in a slightly wider field and there is more of an industry there.

“So it’s just finding those opportunities and showing a willingness to take on those challenges and that is met with a real enthusiasm over there, which I adore.”

The Man Who Invented Christmas was released in UK cinemas last Friday [December 1].