The reception whenever Disney announces that it will be remaking its animated films into live-action films has always been critical, mainly with the mainstream Disney fan communities.
“They are going to ruin it,” says one person while the other says “Don’t touch a classic!”
While a some of Disney’s live-action remakes like “Cinderella” have been met with acclaim, there are other films like “Maleficent” (a remake of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”) that didn’t sit well with others at all. Critics and fans have pointed to different reasons why these remakes might succeed or fail including the fact that they shouldn’t mess with the story itself. Still, no one has really pointed out that the actual live-action element has been a factor to take into account.
For Disney’s upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast”, that realism is actually something filmmakers wanted to highlight. “You’re going to take it into a new medium which is live action,” said director Bill Condon at the film’s global press conference. “They’re going to be actors. Emma [Watson]’s going to be playing a character on real locations who has to fall in love with the beast.”
Condon went on to say that the moment animation isn’t used, the use of exaggeration goes out with it, which allowed the filmmakers to be grounded in expounding on the actual story.
He continued, “When you realize that you’re working in a real world, there are maybe questions you’ve never asked before that you want to know about…”
Emma Watson who plays Belle, felt that sense of realism hit home since she has related to her character since her childhood. “It’s really remarkable to play someone that I’m almost sure had an influence on the woman that I have become,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that I was championing that same spirit, those same values, that same young woman that made me a part of who I am today.”
The positives of playing a real version of an animated character also extended to the person playing Gaston, Luke Evans. “Gaston as opposed to other Disney villains, he has no book of spells, he has no magic powers. He’s a human being,” said Evans. “So I played on that, I played on the humanity of the character as much as he is larger than life.”
That ability to use humans as actors also meant that things that real humanity is going through could be addressed. When a question was asked regarding the highly controversial “exclusively gay moment” that director Bill Condon shared just a few days before, he said that this iteration of the film needed to resonate in new ways. “I think this movie is for everybody, and on the screen you’ll see everybody, and that was important to me, I think to all of us,” Condon said.
Many others on the cast felt the same way. Audra McDonald who plays Madame de Garderobe said, “I think the animated film was perfect, so I don’t think Disney or anybody here or anybody involved with this live action film, was like we got to fix Beauty and the Beast. Let’s just tell this particular version.”
Josh Gad, who plays the openly gay LeFou, was actually more hit with the realness of the opportunity to play a character he’s loved since he was a kid. “I remember first getting the call, and I immediately flashed back to being a kid,” he said. “And I went into my office and I started singing it (LeFou’s song “Gaston”), and I literally started choking up, because you’re like, oh my god, I’m doing this, like I’m doing this for real…”
All that said, you can expect that this version of the ‘tale as old as time’ will be beloved by many because it feels so real today.