We spoke to The beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon on his casting Emma Watson as Belle and it makes us even more excited for Disney’s new live-action remake.
“Emma was the first and only choice. It was the culmination of all those qualities that she brings to it.
“Obviously her intelligence, her beauty, her talent. The only question was whether she could sing,” he explained.
You only have to watch her dance in Belle’s signature yellow dress for a few minutes to realize that Condon’s choice was the right one.
“So we met. When I met her, I had even more hope that it was going to work, because she also seemed to have a real passion for this story and this character.
“And then she went and made a little tape, and it was like, ‘wow, that’s it’.”
Condon also told us how he came to offer Dan Stevens the role of the Beast, having already been aware of the actor’s work.
“I had worked with [Dan] on a movie. I knew him. Having gotten to know him a bit, I really followed all the interesting independent films, other work he had done.
“The lineup just sounded amazing. So I called him when it happened, and he also kind of agreed to go sit down and make a tape of himself singing.”
Condon is clearly aware that their relationship isn’t normal, adding that “even the relationship between the bride and Frankenstein is a bit like Beauty and the Beast.”
We agree – they’re not your typical everyday couple. But that’s what makes them all the more magical to watch. Prince Charming, who?
Many have discussed how 2017 seems to be Disney’s year of the progressive princess, with Emma Watson’s Belle at the helm.
But Condon tells us how Watson in many ways rejects the title of princess in her portrayal.
“I think she had no interest in just being a Disney princess. The word ‘princess’ doesn’t appeal to her, because it suggests that one day my prince will come…’
“What also defined Belle in 1991 was that the books were more interesting than the boys – it wasn’t just about finding the guy and getting married.
“Even at the end, it’s kind of a celebration of their love. It’s not a wedding scene. The happy ending here isn’t that she’s wearing a tiara.”
Over the past ten years, Disney has moved with the times and provided us with more accurate portrayals of women in its films. Think Courageousfrom Merida, the explorer Moana and the fierce sisters Elsa and Anna. Belle is just another example of this revolutionary progressiveness.
The traditional, simplistic “boy meets girl, gets married, and lives happily ever after” isn’t enough for Disney fans anymore, and the studio seems to be responding. Casting stars like Watson, who is herself a strong advocate for feminist values, is clearly a step towards portraying that positive image.
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