'Beauty and the Beast': Josh Gad Plays Disney's First-Ever Gay Character

The "nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie" is a dedication to the animated film's late lyricist Howard Ashman.

It's certain as the sun — Josh Gad's character in Beauty and the Beast is gay.

In the live-action retelling starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens — Gad plays LeFou, the comical sidekick to antagonist Gaston (Luke Evans). Thanks to a subplot alteration, LeFou will be Disney's first-ever LGBTQ character.

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” director Bill Condon tells Attitude. “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."

Gad tweeted that he is "beyond proud" to lead the major Disney benchmark, which is in dedication to the original film's late lyricist Howard Ashman, who died before the animated hit premiered in theaters. He saw the Beast's circumstances as a "metaphor for AIDS," Condon explained. "He was cursed, and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him, and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. .. It was a very, very concrete thing that he was doing."

The 1991 animated film centered on the theme of ostracism, and the cast explained that their live-action retelling will do so as well. "I think it was really important for Dan and I to develop and understand why each of our characters feel as if they don’t fit in,” said Watson, who plays Belle. “I certainly felt watching the original that I wanted to know more about why Belle feels that she’s different and why she wants to be different and why she’s naturally different.”

"It's about that sense of persecution," added Stevens, who plays Beast. "Belle is seen as a bit of a freak within her community, this girl who reads and invents things and is a bit too clever for the local Establishment. And Beast is obviously persecuted because of his appearance."

Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci are also featured in Beauty and the Beast, which hits theaters March 17.

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