Beauty and the Beast has been one of the biggest critical and commercial smashes of 2017, and has delighted thousands of fans with its detailed recreations of our favorite characters in live-action. While CGI might be more readily associated with action movies, Beauty and the Beast was a tour de force of computer-generated wizardry, animated pieces of crockery and furniture, and making them look and feel decidedly human. Yet there is one CGI challenge the crew tackled which sticks out as particularly daunting: how do you realize a man/water buffalo/bear hybrid?
Thanks to the wonders of CGI, Dan Stevens didn’t have to be buried beneath layers upon layers of makeup and prosthetics; he and the production team used the latest technologies in motion capture to bring the Beast to life. But in the many interviews that he gave on the promotional tour, Stevens never mentioned just how conspicuous he looked in the mo-cap suit!
In this recently released featurette, we get a glimpse behind the scenes of Beauty and the Beast, and they show us something truly special…and hilarious! To bring the Beast to life, Stevens had to wear a grey suit made out of lycra, which was muscly and bulky to mimic the Beast’s enlarged and monstrous form. Remember when Belle describes the Beast as “coarse and unrefined” in the song ‘Something There'? After watching the featurette, we know she was definitely right about the “unrefined” part...
Complete with stilts, Stevens provided a point of reference for #EmmaWatson in their moments together, even though he would have to effectively perform the scene twice. Certainly, Stevens acted admirably alongside his co-star, but to capture the intricacies of his facial movements, he had to sit in a small and confining rig so that the movements of his extremities could be carefully mapped. These would then be used for a computerized model of the Beast’s face, which, along with his furrier body and clothes, would be superimposed into the previously recorded footage.
It is a wonder that Emma Watson made it through every scene of the film without laughing at him. Plenty of people online have already called for Emma to receive an award for acting against Dan Stevens’s Beast sans-CGI, and whilst these comments may be a tad hyperbolic, they aren’t unfounded. Stevens does look pretty darn funny stomping around in a silly cap and weird footwear, especially when you compare his decidedly odd ensemble to the sumptuous costumes and sets around him!
“I Am Not A Beast!”
You’ve got to admit that the finished version of Stevens’s Beast is ultimately pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider that every hair and every fiber of his clothing was a result of painstaking post-production. The advancements in CGI have been the cause of some controversies in the last few years, but in cases like this, it's a fascinating and immensely useful tool in a filmmaker's arsenal. Let's face it, without CGI it's doubtful that they could have made Beauty and the Beast — or many other movies, for that matter.
When his new look was unveiled, many fans were somewhat skeptical of the live-action Beast, but they needn’t have worried. Ultimately, the Beast closely resembles his animated counterpart and is a realistic, and convincingly lifelike creation in his own right.
One thing I noted when I watched the featurette was just how closely and fluidly the #CGI Beast’s expressions mimicked #DanStevens’s. Plus, even though it was “ordeal” for his calf muscles, he still managed to walk, dance and perform that swoon-inducing lift in those precarious stilts, which is surely no mean feat when you’re wearing a suit that weighs somewhere in the region of forty pounds.
It’s clear just how much of the Beast's performance is the culmination of Dan Steven’s hard work, and not the result of computer trickery. Dan Stevens’s Beast was a nuanced and sensitive performance that, complete with his superb performance of the solo 'Evermore', is on par with Robby Benson’s beloved incarnation in the 1991 original. It's clear that the casting of Stevens was an inspired move on #Disney's part; Stevens's dedication — and the hard work of the special effects team — ensured that this tale as old as time is a truly magical movie-going experience!
What did you think of Dan Stevens's Beast?
(Poll Image Credit: Disney. Source: Disney via Radio Times)