LOS ANGELES, March 17 — Beauty and the Beast is described in its title song as “a tale as old as time” but it actually dates back to the 18th century fairy tale by French writer Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.
The first film version La Belle et La Bete, about a young girl who falls in love with a monstrous creature and breaks the spell making him such, was brought to life by French director Jean Cocteau and starred Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as The Beast.
In the new Walt Disney live action adaptation of their 1991 Best Picture nominee animation, Emma Watson was cast as Belle back in January 2015, while her co-star Dan Stevens wasn't cast until March of the same year.
And it seemed that Stevens was the perfect choice not just for Walt Disney but also for Watson. Speaking of her reaction at the time, she told Reuters “I was like, 'He's perfect'. He's got the Jean Cocteau version, Jean Marais blue-eyed sexiness situation going on. This is going to be great. And he liked books.”
The pair spent three months together practising the waltz, which occurs during the film's title track, in an “enormous” rehearsal space. However, when they stepped onto the set to carry out the scene, they discovered it was not only the same size but also luxuriously decorated.
For Watson, that experience was overwhelming. She admitted at the time she thought “Oh shit. I've peaked at 26. There's never going to be a more beautiful moment than this one. None of my romantic moments in my personal life will ever live up to this.”
Beauty and the Beast has hit headlines around the world for making Lefou, the sidekick of the film's villain Gaston, seemingly gay. This has led to the March 16 release being postponed in Malaysia and some conservative groups in the United States have called for a boycott of the film.
However, the "tale as old as time" doesn't look set to be damaged by these issues and according to trade publication Variety, it could make as much as US$240 million (RM1.06 billion) in its opening weekend worldwide. — Reuters