What I Learned At The BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Press Junket.
When I was sitting in the theater over 20 years ago watching Beauty and The Beast live, never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would not only be invited to preview Beauty and The Beast movie, but also attend the press junket and meet the stars. Nope, never in my far out dream did I ever think I’d have such an honor bestowed upon me.
Beauty and The Beast was a spectacular movie, for so many reasons, the costumes, scenery, visual effects, the outstanding music and so much more. But most of all the chemistry everyone shared was riveting, it was awesome, to say the least. One of the main reasons in my mind Beauty and Beast will be a hit, they all loved one another. It was obvious during the press junket that each of them not only respected one another but all were grateful to be part of Beauty and The Beast, A Tale as Old as Time.
I’m going to share a few highlights with you that I learned about the cast. This first I’ll be sharing is straight out of Josh Gad mouth. I was left with a belly ache because I was laughing so hard. If you know Josh Gads work, you know he is a true comedian, that day was no different. In Beauty and The Beast Josh rides a horse which is a daunting task for anyone. However here he is describing his experience that had everyone in stitches. You will know have a sense of deeper appreciation when you see him riding the horse. Mind you as he was speaking he couldn't keep a straight face and was laughing, so we were all laughing with him, not at him. (LOL)
JOSH GAD: Well, I’m going to get comfortable for this. So it’s interesting. I learned a couple of great lessons in this movie, one of which is that Jews don’t belong on horses. Specifically overweight Jews. My horse was an anti-Semite, and he interestingly enough they would call action, and the horse that they told me was trained for this movie but I believe they found in the wilds of England, Luke and I our first entrance into the village of [PH] Villanov, was to – this picture by the way is going to be so out of context. People are going to be like, what a s****k for sitting like that. But very shortly. So Luke and I are walking into the village on our horses, and on the action, all our horses need to do is walk side by side, it’s so simple. Luke’s horse does it. The two of them worked on The Hobbit together, Three Musketeers, have this incredible background.
Mine is a cold-blooded killer. And he proceeded to moonwalk, he walked backwards. Then, he ran through multiple extras in the village, ran around – I didn’t even know it was possible – but ran through these like pillars around, up and back again. I heard “cut” and I heard laughing, and the laughter was coming from the horse’s trainer, and he came up to me and he goes, “I’m so sorry. I’ve never seen this happen before.” And it was so sad. It made me feel so awful about myself. Ironically, my horse’s name was Buddy. That is a true story. He’s nobody’s buddy. I’m begging Disney to press charges against him, and I’ve told my agents to never send me another script with a horse in it again.
Belle played by Emma Stone is a fearless adventurer at heart and full of life. Emma brought Belle to life with such spirit and zest. Emma knew what the role entailed and here she is describing the end result. “ I think when I knew I was taking on this role, 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. And so, you know, every time we would address a new scene that Bill or Steve or Evan had put together, you know, I just kind of went, I just always had the original DNA of that woman in mind, you know, and I had my fists up, you know, I was ready to fight because she was so crucial for me. And you know, it was just taking what was already there and just expanding it. And I love that in our version Belle is not only kind of awed and doesn’t fit in, and you know, you see her reading, and you see her not really a part of the community. In our film, she’s actually an activist within her own community. She’s teaching other young girls who are part of the village to read, and you know, moments like that where you could see her expanding beyond just her own little world and trying to kind of grow it, I loved that, and yeah, that was amazing to get to do…”
The Beast played by Dan Stevens is exceptional. To bring to life The Beast he must understand who his character really is, as a Prince, a man and as a Beast. Here is Dan explaining how he approached the task ahead of him. “Well, it was a very physical engagement, I think just to support that muscle suit on stilts was a challenge that I’d never really encountered before. I’ve definitely been taking a more physical approach to my roles in the last few years and just training myself in different ways. I think with the backstory we decided that the prince before he was the Beast was a dancer, that he loved to dance, and so I trained myself like a dancer and learned, you know, three quite different dances for this movie and worked very closely with [PH] Antony, just in terms of, you know, his general deportment, both for the prince and the Beast, you know, and there was a lot of work dancing on stilts…”
Last but not least our favorite character that we love in the beginning and hate in the end, Gaston. Villains never think of themselves as the villains in the story, they always think of themselves as the hero. Gaston played by Luke Evans describes what he envisioned for his role and brought to life. “Well, I just think a villain shouldn’t start out as the bad guy. A villain should end up being the bad guy, and I think with Gaston, outwardly, you know, to a lot of people in that village, he is the hero. He’s a bit of a stud. He’s got the hair, he’s got the looks, he’s always impeccably dressed, not a bad singing voice. He’s got a great pal who makes everybody support him and sing about him. And I wanted the audience to – in a way, I just thought, let’s make them like him a little bit first, so that when the cracks start to appear, which they do very subtly, even from the door slam, you know, there’s something inside of him that he’s like, I’m not used to this, this isn’t how it goes, this is not what she’s supposed to be doing. And although he keeps believing that Belle will change her mind, that’s where the cracks appear in my thought process and then slowly, you know, the jealousy takes over, and who he becomes, especially Gaston as opposed to other Disney villains, he has no book of spells, he has no magic powers. He’s a human being, and he uses his status within that village to rouse a crowd and he does it all from just being himself, which is quite terrifying in a way. So I played on that, I played on the humanity of the character as much as he is larger than life. There was a lot to pull on, and obviously, he was a war hero of sorts, we decided, didn’t we, Bill, from the past. That’s why his murals are all over the pub that he drinks in. And there is a slight soldier, this animalistic soldier, in him when he finally fights the Beast on the rooftops. You see this man out for blood, and it’s a scary moment to see the arc of somebody who was the loveable buffoon of the village to become the Beast almost, the monster.
The love, passion, blood, sweat and tears each and every actor has placed in Beauty and The Beast is prevalent. It’s devastatingly beautiful, you’ll never want the movie to end. I know I didn’t. Mark your calendars for March 17, be the first to see it and let me know what you think.