This past weekend I was lucky enough to be flown out by Movie Pilot to attend a #BeautyandtheBeast screening as well as the press junket the next day. I'm happy to report that there is a lot more to the film than just being a shot-by-shot remake of the animated version, and an in-depth story that connected Belle and the Beast in a way that was so much more personal than we could have imagined.
During the junket, the cast dove into how they brought the story to life for a new generation. Here are four things we learned them at the press junket.
1. Belle Has Always Been Emma Watson's Role Model And She Used That During Filming
When asked how she managed to bring Belle to life in a way that was true to the source material but was modernized for today's audience, #EmmaWatson explained that Belle had always been one of her role models when growing up and influenced who she became.
It's really remarkable to play someone that I'm almost sure had an influence on the woman I've become. I think the first time watching Paige O'Hara [voice of Belle] sing 'Belle Reprise,' it's kind of the 'I want' song of all 'I want' songs. It just immediately resonated with me and I was so young, I didn't even know what I was tapping into. But there was something about that energy that I just knew that she was my champion.
So when stepping into a role that meant so much, not just to her, but to girls everywhere, she was adamant about respecting the character.
When I knew I was taking on this role, I wanted to make sure that I was championing that same spirit, those same values, that same young woman that made me who I am today. So every time we would address a new scene that Bill [Condon (director)] or Stephen [Chbosky (writer)] had put together I just always had that original DNA of that woman in mind. I had my fists up, I was ready to fight because she was so crucial to me and it was taking what was already there and just expanding it.
I love that in our version Belle is not only kind of odd and doesn't fit in...In our film she is actually an activist within her own community. She is teaching other young girls in the village to read and moments like that where you can see her expanding beyond just her own little world and trying to grow it. I love that.
2. They Made A Point To Anchor The Storylines In The History Of 18th Century France
There is also the question of how they managed to expand upon a story that was already so well-known to audiences worldwide. Director #BillCondon spoke of the different story ideas that were bounced around.
We had meetings of what could we add, and one of the things we talked about was the music box moment with Maurice and getting to the backstory of how Maurice and Belle came to the town. And the backstory for the Beast and how he became such a cold, callous young man. We tried to root ourselves much more in the time and place of 18th century France, which heavily helped me.
3. It Was Important To Condon And The Cast That It Was A Film For Everyone - And Yes, That Includes LeFou's Sexuality
As someone who has seen the film, I can honestly say that the gay storyline is being blown out of proportion as it's subtext, more of a blink and you miss it moment than anything. However, Condon had more to say on the subject, as well.
I talked before about we translate [the film] into a live-action one. That means filling out the characters. It's also a translation to 2017, and what is this movie about, what has this story always been about for 300 years? It's been about looking closer, getting deeper, accepting people for who they really are, and in a very Disney way we are including everybody. I think this movie is for everybody, and on the screen you'll see everybody and that was important to me—I think to all of us.
What The Beast's True Name Is
While the Beast has been given the name "Adam" in the Broadway production and CD-Rom game, neither film ever actually gave the Prince a name, nor was he ever called anything else. I was lucky enough to get to ask what the cast would name him if they could. #DanStevens kept it simple:
I would name him Prince Bill.... he's not Adam?
Emma Watson shared her nickname from on set:
Well, I called Dan—for most of the movie I just called him 'Beasty.' [to Dan] Hi Beasty!
#JoshGad may have had the best response, though:
I would name him Vladimir because I want to make friends with the Russians.
The cast were all very charming and seemed to greatly enjoy their time on the film. After seeing it for myself, I can say that it was the perfect mixture of the animated film, the stage show, and live-action brought together in a beautiful new way. It was amazing to get to see these incredible actors, as well as #Disney legend Alan Menken, mere feet from me—especially when Gad and #LukeEvans broke out into song:
I can't wait to see the film again.
Beauty and the Beast comes to theaters March 17th.
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