A Tale as Old as Time… turned new. After months of burning anticipation, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast finally drops on Friday, March 17. Here are 10 facts about the film that longtime fans of the film should know before they watch the movie.
Though the actress has starred in one of the biggest movie franchises of the last decade, Watson nevertheless had to put her Belle foot forward. “I had to fight for the role. I had to audition. I had to prove I could sing,” she told Disney twenty-three. “I really had to go for it. You can’t have doubts when you’re singing in front of a set of 200 people in one of the biggest musicals of all time.”
Dan Stevens Practiced His “Beast” Voice… With Fangs
The Downton Abbey alum went semi-method and perfected his version of the conflicted Prince Adam with the right props. “They gave me some fangs, some incredible fangs that looked like I was born with them…” he told The One Show on March 16. “They gave me some really nice big ones that perfectly fitted but I didn’t end up wearing them, but I had them to explore and take home, so I got to go home and freak the kids out.”
Behold, Belle’s Washing Machine!
“Belle [is] where we worked in the 21st century element, because she is a far more intelligent, confident woman,” screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos previously told THR. “She’s in fact making little inventions to ease the life in the village.” Her genius ideas include a derivative of the washing machine, something unparalleled in 18th century France.
“A lot of what I was doing was making sure it kept true to the original and, where I could, making Belle as real as possible,” Watson noted to Disney twenty-three. “In the animated movie, it’s [Belle’s father] Maurice who’s the kind of crazy, wacky inventor. In the movie, it’s really Belle. She comes up with an idea for a washing machine so that she can read while her creation washes the clothes.”
LeFou Is Disney’s First LGBTQ Character
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon confirmed to THR. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
There’s a New Character
The intimate objects imprisoned within the castle—Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth and Chip—will be joined by the addition of Maestro Cadenza, who is turned into a harpsichord under the curse. Sadly, Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci) is fixed on the first floor while his wife, Wardrobe/Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) is stuck on the second floor of the dilapidated castle.
“You have more of a back story for these characters so you’d feel invested and want them to be together again,” McDonald told THR. “The Wardrobe and the Cadenza can’t ever even see or touch each other — it’s sad!”
Dan Stevens Was Present for CGI Moments
“It was such a luxury to have Dan there at all. Usually when I’m working with CGI, I’m working with a tennis ball or I’m speaking to an orange dot — or, if I’m really lucky, I’m talking to an LED light,” Watson told Disney twenty-three. “So having a living, breathing human there that I could respond to and I could play off of was wonderful — and, I think, really important for this story.”
Director Bill Condon, who’s also worked on The Twilight Saga, said Stevens had to go over scenes multiple times. “Dan would be in a kind of suit that gave him the height of the Beast and the width, so that Emma also had a sense of what he looked like,” he said. “We actually built it. But then, and this was hard on Dan and this is an extraordinary feat, basically, he doesn’t have all those dots all over his face. He’s not walking around like that. He gives the performance right there and then later on, we go into a kind of Star Trek chamber and he sits in this little module where his face is sprayed, not with dots, but sprayed so that every pore is captured by these 20 cameras. And he gives the performance again. So, in a way he had to do it twice.”
Belle Is Not Emma Watson’s Favorite Disney Princess
That honor goes to Pocahontas. “I loved them all, really,” the British beauty told Disney twenty-three. “I spent a lot of my childhood impersonating Timon and Pumbaa [from The Lion King].”
Emma Watson Needed Gloria Steinem’s Approval
The actress notably brought her mother and worldwide feminist Steinem to see the final cut of the movie in London. “I couldn’t care less if I won an Oscar or not if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear,” Watson told Vanity Fair. Steinem added in the same piece, “It was fascinating that her activism could be so well mirrored by the film. It’s this love of literature that first bonds the Beauty to the Beast, and also what develops the entire story.”
There’s So Much More to Belle
Spiliotopoulos says the characters’ backstories will be far more developed in the latest remake. “We learn Belle’s past,” he noted to The Hollywood Reporter. “We learn about her mom. We learn why her father brought her to this little town.”
And There’s So Much More to Beast
“We learn about the Beast’s parents and what made him a jerk in the beginning,” Spiliotopoulos added to THR. “We’ve embellished the enchantress a lot. She’s got a much bigger part in the story.”
Stevens added of his own character: “It’s not just about refusing an old woman shelter in a storm, which is what happens and triggers the curse, but there’s a lot of behavior leading up to that — there’s something not quite right in his heart, and it needs to be put right. Something Bill, Emma and I wanted to put out is this sense of entitlement and privilege of this spoiled prince who was raised wrong, really, and left to grow into a monster, a hideous man child. It makes for a more interesting journey.”
Beauty and the Beast is out in theaters now.