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Disney’s lock on the Beauty and the Beast myth should be safe for generations to come: The beloved 1991 animated version returns March 17 for a live-action adaptation. But in 1987, millions fell for a very different take on the ultimate odd couple, with CBS’ modernized version of the 18th century French fairy tale.
In that Beauty and the Beast, Linda Hamilton, then 31, played a New York City assistant D.A. who is savagely beaten, slashed and left to die in Central Park. (The “Preppy Murder” case had grabbed headlines the year prior.) She is rescued by Vincent, a lion-faced subterranean dweller with an Andre Agassi mane and a taste for the Romance-era arts; he nurtures her back to health and can telepathically sense when she’s in peril.
Ron Perlman played Vincent, a part he won after makeup master Rick Baker, who created the Beast’s look, recommended him on the strength of his makeup-heavy work as a Neanderthal in 1981’s Quest for Fire and a hunchback monk in 1986’s The Name of the Rose. Creator Ron Koslow clearly had an eye for talent: On the writing staff was Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and Homeland creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa.
“I would compare Ron’s scripts to Miles Davis,” says jazz aficionado Perlman, now 66. “But the George R.R. Martin scripts were like John Coltrane on acid — primal, but with incredible elegance.”
Stream all of CBS’s Beauty and the Beast at Amazon Prime.
This story first appeared in the March 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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