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.
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)