It has taken Disney three years, and a reported three hundred million dollars, to remake one of its most beloved animated films, Beauty and the Beast.
Bill Condon helmed the picture which comes out March 17.
“When we were up and running at Shepperton studios in London,we had built an entire village, built this entire castle, built a forest," says Condon. " It really felt like you were at MGM in 1950 you know?"
Belle's walk through her village might remind you of a classic musical. It includes 150 extras, and hundreds of live animals. But this 21st century version also mixes live action filmmaking with digitally rendered characters and backdrops. To become Beast, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens had to act out each scene twice - first to capture his physical performance - on stilts no less.
“And then we'd do the scenes all over again in this strange cage where they would just capture the facial performance and morph that on the Beast and map it onto the puppeteered body so it was a bit of a brave new world for all of us concerned really,” Stevens says.
Stevens's beast needed a lot of work to reveal itself, but for many of us, it takes a lot less.
“There's a little bit of the beast in all of us,” says our reporter Saint Bryan. “That's going to be the premise of the next question. What is the most beastly thing about you?”
“Ohh when I get hungry I think,” says Stevens.
“Hungry or cold,” adds Emma Watson
“Well I don't like mess so I get very very beastly if I'm surrounded by mess,” says Luke Evans who plays Gaston. “I'm quite OCD about that. I need everything to be clean and tidy.”
“I get beastly when I see bullying,” says Josh Gad who plays LeFou.” Especially as a father who's very protective. You know that I have no patience for it. If I ever encounter anyone who I feel is being wronged you'll see the inner beast come out.”
This beast may be a bit darker than in the animated version. The wolves are even more terrifying. But deep down this is the same love story. A fairy tale with the same message.
“We should not be distracted by all the surface beauty or dazzle,” says Condon. “We should take a closer look and dig deeper.”
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