You always get an idea of who people are based on their roles in films, tv, and theater. I had been looking forward to interviewing both Emma Watson and Dan Stevens because they featured in my pop culture (Hermione from Harry Potter and Matthew from Downton Abbey of course) and both have been known as intensely private people. They exceeded my expectations just like the movie did. Never have I met two people who not only were meant to play their roles, but who were also as kind, generous, and just good souls. When they gave each other compliments it wasn’t just some “Oh great to work with” comment that everyone uses it was heartfelt things that they both admired about each other. I’m so thankful for Emma for being the wonderful role model that I can be proud of my daughter to look up to. Yes, she may have been thrust upon it during her Harry Potter years, but she has grown into the role and has not only accepted it but taken it on with a passion. She knows she has a platform and she uses it for greatness.
Now, let’s get on to the wonderful interviews from Beauty and the Beast:
Q: What was the auditioning process like?
EW: (with) Disney, it was about wanting to explore whether or not I could sing. That was the major question mark, so I was put on the audition tape. I went away and I did (it), and then kind of did that classic thing of waiting on tentative hooks to get the call, and to hear whether or not it was up to standard and thankfully it was, so I got offered the role which was just very, very exciting, really.
DS: For me, I put a song on tape for Bill Condon, and I sang the Beast song from the Broadway musical which we end up not using in the movie, because the Beast doesn’t sing in the animated film, of course, and yes, I mean, the same thing. Fortunately he liked it, yeah.
Q: What was it like seeing yourselves in full costume the first time?
EW: It was kind of amazing, [LAUGHS]. I think because Belle, you know, it’s a fairytale; I play kind of an archetype, really. She’s more of a symbol. 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, like, 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 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 the way in.
DS: I didn’t really have a costume. Well, I did have a costume. The made costumes for the Beast. They were really giant coats that he wore, and this massive shredded cloak, but I never actually got to put it on. I spent the whole time, as the Beast, anyway, in 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 movie.
Q: Both Hermione and Belle are very strong characters. In which ways were you able to shape the character of Belle to help continue the empowerment of future generations that will be seeing this film, both young and impressionable?
EW: There was talk 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, we need to stay faithful to the original, 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.
So we kind of co-opted what was originally kind of crazy ole Maurice’s identity, and I was like, well, that’s not the direction that Kevin’s taking the role in. Could I co-opt that for Bell, and we had her design this washing machine that allows her to have more time to read and to teach. That was super important to me. I think also, actually, people ask me a lot, you know, what’s it like being a Disney princess? And I go, well, actually, Belle isn’t a princess, [LAUGHS].
She’s actually one of the few Disney that’s 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 (think) 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 asked Bill, I said, could I say actually, I’m not a princess? And he was like, yeah, sure. And so just like little things like that where I just felt like I was protecting and defending Belle’s sort of original DNA and just making sure that we stay truthful and, and faithful to this very independent young woman.
Q: Your dance scenes were amazing. How long did it take you to prepare for that?
DS: Wow, it was about three months…Training for that. We did the Beast Waltz and I have three dances in the film, you know, two, unless you’re counting your walk through the village, I guess, which is kind of a…Sort of choreographed. But no, it was a lot of dance training for this, and particularly for that iconic waltz, and we first of all learned- well, I first of all learned it on the ground.
EW: That’s kind of a four-step process, so we learned to pass. We learned it together.
DS: Then I graduated to the stilts. Yeah, waltzing on stilts. Not something I thought I would ever be able to say
EW: And then he graduated to the ballroom because filling that ballroom is so huge that actually kind of filling the space and really making it seem as if we were filling that room was a kind of challenge in itself. It’s quite a process, yeah.
Q: How much of the Beast was CGI and how much was actually you?
DS: It’s all me, kind of, [LAUGHS]. So it was motion capture puppeteering of the suit. I’m inside a giant muscle suit on stilts, so the Beast’s body was me moving inside there. 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, 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.
So in answer to your question, lots of CGI and also, it is me driving it all and, and it’s an amazing new technology that’s never been used this extensively before, and it’s very, very exciting.
Q: What would you say to girls that feel different and odd in their own way?
EW: I think- what I remember being so torturous, actually, about school was that that is your whole world. It’s like this microcosm; you know, the people that are in your class, that’s your entire universe. That is your planet, and if you don’t fit with that, with those, however many people are in your class, it’s miserable.
And I think what my mom really said to me was that, look, it might feel like the end of the world right now, that you don’t quite fit, but one day, you might be really grateful for that. It’s very hard to see at the time but there’s a big, wide world out there with people who have diverse interests, and perspectives, and opinions. You kind of have to just like go out there and, and find your tribe; find your kindred spirits; find the people that resonate with you and that you feel at home with.
It takes a bit of persistence, and it doesn’t necessarily come overnight and really easily, but actually when I look back on not feeling like I fitted, actually, at school, I’m really grateful that I didn’t because I actually didn’t really particularly want to be like any of who were the cool girls in my class anymore, to be honest really. I’m glad that I was different. I’m glad that I was a bit odd and I didn’t really fit in. So, you know, obviously, all of this is easy to say in retrospect, but anyway, I hope that’s helpful.
About The Movie
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “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 and soul 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; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon from a screenplay by TBD based on the 1991 animated film, the film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
***Disclosure: I attended the #BeOurGuestEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***