Orange County School of the Arts

Six things we gleaned from the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ press conference

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(Disney)

It’s a tale as old as time, yet Disney brings to life “Beauty and The Beast” in a way that feels fresh and pays tribute to the timeless classic.

Directed by Bill Condon and starring the perfect cast of Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as LeFou, and the rest of the talented ensemble, this live-action reimagining has been highly anticipated by fans across the world. We went behind-the-scenes at the press conference to find out more about the movie!

 Six things we gleaned from the Beauty and the Beast press conference
(Playbill)
  1. Emma Watson not only inspires her fans but her co-stars as well!

Audra McDonald, who plays the wardrobe Madame De Garderobe, knew she immediately had to say yes to the role—and not just because it was Disney calling.

“[It was] knowing that Emma Watson was going to be Belle and how much Emma has affected girls my daughter’s age. My daughter is now someone who asks people to donate money to charities for her birthday gifts instead of presents, and that’s because of you, Emma,” said McDonald to the starlet.

She also talked about the heroine we have in the Disney Princess.

“Belle is independent, she’s strong, and she does all the rescuing in the movie,” she added.

emma watson belle reading entity Six things we gleaned from the Beauty and the Beast press conference
(Disney)
  1. Belle is truly a 21st century princess—and Watson wanted to do her justice.

The 1991 animated film was already perfect, the filmmakers clarified. The goal in this modern retelling was to expand on the world and bring forth the values already engrained in the classic.

“It’s just a start. I’m almost sure Belle had an influence on the woman I’ve become,” said Watson. “I think the first time I saw Paige O’Hara sing the reprise in ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ [I knew] it is the ‘I want’ song of all ‘I want’ songs. I was so young I didn’t know what I was tapping into. But there was something about her spirit and energy that I knew she was my champion. When I was taking on this role I wanted to make sure I was championing that same spirit and those values. I just always had the original DNA of the woman in mind. She was so crucial for me.”

In this 2017 version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle’s industriousness and inventiveness comes through in clips of Belle teaching young girls in her town how to read, helping her father with mechanics and even escaping the tower using a rope of cloth.

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The Beast’s costume. (Cassandra Hsiao)
  1. Prince Adam was a dancer before he became the Beast.

Not only was it physically challenging to portray the Beast on stilts wearing a muscle suit, but Dan Stevens who played Prince Adam/Beast also had to learn how to dance.

“I think with the backstory we decided that the prince before he was the Beast was a dancer, that he loved to dance, and so I trained myself like a dancer and learned three quite different dances for this movie,” said Stevens.

Stevens said that getting to know co-star Watson first and foremost on the dance floor was the best experience possible.

“I’m going to try and do with every movie I do now, whether there’s a waltz in the movie or not,” he laughed. “I mean the trust that Emma had to place in me that I wouldn’t break her toes—it really became part of the crucial part of the title really, the ‘and the’ bit. It’s the essence of a waltz being two people in this whirlwind, learning about choreography, the storytelling through dance.”

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(Disney)
  1. How Luke Evans got into the head of Gaston

Evans is good-natured, humble, and a supporter of women’s rights—practically the exact opposite of Gaston. So how did he bring one of the most famous Disney villains to life?

“Well, I just think a villain shouldn’t start out as the bad guy. A villain should end up being the bad guy, and I think with Gaston—outwardly to a lot of people in that village—he is the hero. He’s a bit of a stud. He’s got the hair, he’s got the looks, he’s always impeccably dressed, not a bad singing voice,” said Evans. “I wanted the audience to like him a little bit first, so that when the cracks start to appear, which they do very subtly, we see there’s something inside of him… the jealousy takes over. Gaston, as opposed to other Disney villains, has no book of spells, he has no magic powers. He’s a human being, and he uses his status within that village to rouse a crowd and he does it all from just being himself, which is quite terrifying in a way.”

Condon and Evans decided that Gaston was a war hero of sorts, and put up murals of Gaston in the village pub. Additionally, Gaston was made into what Evans called an “animalistic soldier.”

“You see this man out for blood, and it’s a scary moment to see the arc of somebody who was the loveable buffoon of the village to become the Beast almost, the monster,” concluded Evans.

luke evans stars gaston josh gad le fou Six things we gleaned from the Beauty and the Beast press conference

  1. Josh Gad’s had a rough time riding his horse

In the opening scenes of the movie, Gaston and lovable sidekick LeFou (played by Gad) enter the village on horseback. However, Gad found he was in for a surprise—and not a lovely one, either.

All the horses needed to do was walk side-by-side. Evans’ horse did what was instructed. On the other hand, Gad’s horse, who he called a “cold-blooded killer,” walked backwards.

“He proceeded to moonwalk—he walked backwards,” recalled Gad. “Then, he ran through multiple extras in the village, ran around—I didn’t even know it was possible—but ran through these pillars. I heard ‘cut’ and I heard laughing, and the laughter was coming from the horse’s trainer, and he came up to me and he goes, ‘I’m so sorry. I’ve never seen this happen before.’ It made me feel so awful about myself. Ironically, my horse’s name was Buddy. That is a true story. He’s nobody’s buddy. I’m begging Disney to press charges against him, and I’ve told my agents to never send me another script with a horse in it again.”

emma watson brown university graduation pictures 4 Six things we gleaned from the Beauty and the Beast press conference
Emma Watson graduating from Brown.
  1. Emma Watson heart-to-heart about uncertainty and being the outsider

Watson, a heroine and role model to many, answered a question from someone on the verge of going to college about not fitting in—a sentiment that both Belle and Beast experience which ultimately brings them together.

“I think what’s difficult about the microcosm occasionally of school or sometimes colleges and universities, is that you feel that the people that are in your immediate surroundings are the only people in the world,” said Watson. “I remember feeling at school that if I didn’t fit, there was nothing else. And that’s a really difficult feeling. But I guess what I would say for anyone that feels like an outsider in their environment is that there is a big, wide world out there with so many different people with diverse opinions and perspectives and interests. Go out there and find your tribe, go find your kindred spirits, and they do exist—they don’t necessarily come easily. Pursue the things that you love and that you’re really passionate about. They’ll be there. But don’t give up. They are there.”

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(Cassandra Hsiao)
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Belle’s costume (Cassandra Hsiao)

Click here to see the video of Watson’s inspiring answer!

Beauty and the Beast waltzes into theaters on March 17, 2017.

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