BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens in theaters everywhere on March 17th!
After getting a sneak peak at Beauty and the Beast, we had the chance to sit down with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.
Emma Watson (Belle) is best known for her role as the iconic character of Hermoine Granger in the eight “Harry Potter” films. So, how did this awkward know-it-all (Hermoine) grown into such a beauty (Belle). Disney’s main question for Emma was if she could sing or not. Emma put out an audition tape…and guess what?!?! She could sing! Emma didn’t have any formal training as a singer, but once she landed the role Disney helped her tune her voice.
“I think because Belle, you know, it’s a fairytale; I play kind of an architype, really. She’s more of a symbol than, like- the kind of the way that I got into character and I sort of started to feel like I was understanding her really well, was through her costume, so it was like working on putting together the boots that she wore and she had kind of these slightly scruffy socks, and she had the bloomers underneath her skirt which meant that she could swing her leg over a horse.
And creating the kind of tool belt that she has on for when she’s inventing things, and it will carry her books and, like, all these little details. She actually has- she has a ring on this finger which actually one that I wear which is one from my mom, and all these tiny things, I really felt like I was starting to get to know her, so her costume was really important for me, actually. It was, like, the way in.” (Emma)
Dan Stevens (Prince/Beast) is well known for his performance as Matthew Crawley in the Golden Globe-winning drama “Downton Abbey.” Dan also had to submit a tape to Bill Condon for his audition…and he sang the Beast song from the Broadway musical (“which we end up not using in the movie, but there is was, because the Beast doesn’t sing in the animated film… Fortunately he like it, yeah.”). (Dan)
Dan Stevens was the Beast for the majority of the film, so he “didn’t really have a costume.” However, they did make costumes for the Beast…and “They were really giant coats that he wore, and this massive shredded cloak, but I never actually got to put it on.” Dan actually spent most of his time as the Beast wearing “a forty pound muscle suit on stilts covered in gray lycra. So I looked pretty odd, but nothing like the Beast that you see in the, in the movie.”
We need to stay, we need to stay faithful to the original ~ Emma Watson
“There was talk of, a little bit at the beginning, of a wedding perhaps at the end, and that had not been in the original, and I was sort of like, oh, me, sorry, can I just point out this isn’t in the original. We need to stay faithful to the original, and I really, and I felt strongly about that. I felt very strongly that she needed to have a vocation to fill her time with, and this is very important to me.” (Emma) It’s a nice way how Disney made minor changes in the story that made sense. In the live-action movie, Belle is the one who tinkers and creates things to help make life easier. The original idea of crazy old Maurice is more of the identity Belle took (without being crazy, she took it to a new level, she was a true inventor).
Belle isn’t a princess ~ Emma Watson
“What’s it like being a Disney princess? And I go, well, actually, Belle isn’t a princess. She’s actually one of the few Disney that’s in, you know, in that line of, of young women who actually isn’t a princess. She’s an ordinary girl from an ordinary village and, and I actually that’s very important about her, and she has no aspirations to be a princess. She has no aspirations to marry a prince. And so there was a line in the movie, originally, about Audra, the chest of drawers says to me, oh you know, we’ll make you a gown fit for a princess, and I was like- and I asked Bill, I said, could I say actually, I’m not a princess?” Emma wanted to protect and defend Belle’s DNA! Keeping the story truthful and faithful to this very independent young woman.
So how much of the Beast is Dan Stevens…it’s all Dan, kind of. Dan wore a giant muscle suit on stilts, so inside the Beast was Dan moving around! “The facial capture was done separately, and every two weeks, I’d go into this booth, and ten thousand UV dots would be sprayed on my face, and twenty seven little cameras would capture everything I’ve been doing for the past two weeks just with my face. So it was my face driving that Beast’s face and they turned that information digitally into the Beast’s face and map it onto the body that I’d been working on the set.” (Dan)
In the movie the Beast is powered by a lot of CGI, but it is Dan driving it all. “It’s an amazing new technology that’s never been used this extensively before, and it’s very, very exciting.” (Dan)
Oh the dress…yes, that dress! The lovely yellow dress that Belle is known for…making that dress just right was a challenge. “Trying to get the dress right was really difficult because we needed to dress her to serve a number of different purposes and functions. So it needed to be of the period, so originally we had- she started off with a very kind of like seventeenth century traditional dress, but then we realized that it didn’t do that, like, really cute twirly thing that it does in the animation, you know, when the dress, like, spins behind her? We were like, damn. It has to do that, otherwise it’s not right. So we’re like, okay, back to the drawing board. It’s gotta twirl. All right, so it can’t be quite- it’s gotta be seventeenth century, but the bottom’s gotta be different, so let me try another version of it, which kind of did have that movement. It was lightness, so we made it out of chiffon, and then we were like, she’s also gotta ride a horse in it, and she’s gotta be able to kind of go into the third part of the movie which is where she goes back to see her father. So it also kind of needs to feel like an action hero dress which is why the front of the dress looks a bit like a coat of armor. It’s, like, got gold flecks in it, and it kind of like, yeah, it had, it had that kind of warrior element to it, as well. So, yeah, we kind of created a warrior, modern seventeenth century twisty, twirly dress hybrid.” (Emma)
Cute story about the dress…Dan’s daughter overheard Emma and Dan talking about Belle’s dress. She rushed into the next room with a pen and paper. About a half hour later she came back to them with five different dress designs. “And Emma was very, very sweet. She sat down with Willow and she looked through them all, and they, they chose which one they thought, you know, that they should go with. Anyway, a few weeks later, Willow came on set and saw Emma in the finished dress, and she’s, yep, that’s the one. So in her mind, she designed that dress.” (Dan)
This movie is absolutely wonderful…full of powerful messages. One think Emma admired and took from her role is that Belle was so nonjudgmental. “It’s her ability to see beyond the surface of things to- and to understand that kind of everyone has a story, and you don’t always know what that story is, and to kind of look deeper into things before you make a judgement.” (Emma)
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s live-action adaptation “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
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Disclosure: I was invited by Disney to attend an all expenses paid trip to cover the #BeOurGuestEvent & other fun adventures in LA on 3/4-3/7. All opinions are my own.