'Beauty and the Beast' Premiere: Amid Reports of Gay LeFou, Josh Gad Says He'll Let "Lovely Moment" at End "Speak for Itself"
"For 25 years, people have been asking this question about this character," Gad said on reports that his character is LGBTQ. "What I would love to see is a moment when we no longer have to ask this question. I would love it if it weren't such a story."
Twenty-six years after the 1991 animated classic, Disney's Beauty and the Beast was revived in Hollywood as the red carpet (and roses) were laid out along Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday evening for a celebration of a tale as old as time with Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad and the rest of the film's cast.
In the spirit of the film's 18th century setting, attendees including John Legend and Chrissy Teigen entered a large tent in front of the El Capitan theater decked out in the spirit of the classic — from the large ballroom chandelier to a display of the rose. Guests were welcomed by jugglers on stilts, entertained by ballroom dancing to a string quartet and got stick-on rose tattoos before heading into the theater, where Beyonce and Jay Z entered with Blue Ivy last-minute. Watson was seen giving autographs to little girls dressed as their favorite Disney princesses and attendees were even handed a rose of their own as they left the screening of the film.
But as the live-action pic sought to preserve the classic, it's also reimagined cartoon characters as living in today's more modernized world for the film's ensemble, including Stevens (Beast), Gad (LeFou), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere) and new characters, including Stanley Tucci's Cadenza.
"We learn Belle's past. We learn about her mom. We learn why her father brought her to this little town. We learn about the Beast's parents and what made him a jerk in the beginning. We've embellished the enchantress a lot. She's got a much bigger part in the story, " said screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos, who also noted it was important to highlight Belle's female empowerment, which is noticeable throughout the film.
"In terms of Belle, that's where we worked in the 21st century element, because she is a far more intelligent, confident woman," he added. "She's in fact making little inventions to ease the life in the village, like little washing machines and stuff like that. It's a sense of empowerment because you are also going to see that the beast also, once he takes responsibility for his actions, is frankly empowered to protect Belle, to be by her side, to love her."
Speaking of love, guests seemed to be infatuated with all the red roses at the premiere, an event presented in association with Swarovski. The luxury jeweler figures prominently into the film as well, having manufactured the glass bell jar, based on Disney's original design, in addition to providing 2,160 crystals used in the opening scene on the dress worn by Madame de Garderobe, the Prince and Maestro Cadenza’s costumes.(Academy Award-nominated set decorator Katie Spencer flew to Swarovski’s headquarters in the Austrian Tyrol to work with the company’s master cutters to manufacture the Bell Jar, the company said.) Further, the pic has inspired a new jewelry line by Atelier Swarovski. Enclosed in the Swarvoski jar was a Luxe Bloom rose, that lasts for 60 days without water.
The event was draped in thousands of the same magical Luxe Bloom roses with 7,000 used for the rose wall alone where Watson, Celine Dion and the rest of the film's cast posed for pictures upon entry. Guests were handed a long-stemmed rose of their own as they left the theater.
One of the most physical and more demanding transformations was for Stevens as the Beast. He told The Hollywood Reporter one of his biggest challenges was figuring out a way to sing and dance while on stilts. "I was puppeteering a 40-pound muscle suit and 10-inch stilts, so every day was a workout," the actor explained.
Gad said Gaston's sidekick LeFou is actually a lot smarter than the animated version and commented on news of him representing Disney's first LGBTQ character.
"I think along the way he starts to question things, and that's an element that added a really beautiful complexity to his character," said Gad. "There's also, as I'm sure has been discussed over the last 24 hours, a lovely moment at the end of the film that I think I'll let speak for itself. Like many of the additions to this movie, I think it's a beautiful, subtle moment that does its job and is left alone."
The actor also told reporters he'll leave it to audiences to decide if LeFou's character is considered LGBTQ. "For 25 years, people have been asking this question about this character," he said. "What I would love to see is a moment when we no longer have to ask this question. I would love it if it weren't such a story."
Luke Evans, however, joked that Gaston hasn't changed much and is still funny to laugh at: "He’s hated and loved on equal measures because he has the look, and he’s very charismatic and he ends up being the monster of film. A villain is a villain. As long as they deliver it well, they are timeless."
Following Legend and Teigen inside the premiere was Celine Dion, who exclaimed that Legend did an amazing job with Ariana Grande remaking the Beauty and the Beast duet she sang with Peabo Bryson years ago. Dion credited the original film for her career today.
"Beauty and the Beast has put me here where I belong, where I wanted to be in the business," Dion told reporters. "It's a song that I will sing the rest of my life. I never thought this moment would come because I thought this movie would stay as an animation movie and they decided to remake it with real actors. But to consider me again to sing I was like, 'Wow!'"
Dion, who sings a new song on the film's soundtrack, says she's still surprised the animated movie has become a live-action feature and expressed that she had some reservations at first with the film's remake.
"I wasn't sure if it was the proper thing to do because I'm still with the first piece and the first rose and Angela Lansbury and the first Belle," said the singer. "It meant so much to me. They gave me time to think about it and I said, Tthank you for taking me in consideration still.' I went back in my own meditation way."
Director Bill Condon, however, said it was important in his approach to "reveal and expand" more in the film from its traditional storyline.
"The big thing is they all have to exist in the real world now," he said. "You have to believe that Belle, this flesh-and-blood woman, is going to fall in love with this big hunk of fur. So you have to make them individuals, where in a way they were a little archival before."
Added executive producer Don Hahn on the red carpet: "The biggest suggestion we had was for Emma to make this character her own. Yes the original movie exists, watch it, but it's not about following it like the rule of law. It's about making it her own, and she did. Not only with her performance, but with her costume and the way she carries that character, and I think that's what's special about it. It's a great interpretation of Belle."
With Disney set for more live-action films forthcoming, including The Little Mermaid, and the success of La La Land, both Evans and Gad hope there are more musicals in Hollywood's big-budget future.
"I hope at least that we're crossing into this new threshold where it is OK and appropriate for studios to commit big budgets to not only big superhero films but movies where people sing and dance," said Gad. "Being someone that started on Broadway it's a thrill to see it happening."
(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)