Emma Watson and star cast bring Disney classic to life

Emma Watson in a yellow dress
Leading beauty: Emma Watson as Belle Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The immense popularity of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast rests on its beloved storyline and its array of memorable characters – who are perfectly realised by the stellar cast in the new film.

In the spectacular live-action adaptation of Disney’s classic animated feature, this stunning, cinematic event is made by some of the best acting talent working today.

First to be cast was Emma Watson, who sprang to fame as the brilliant Hogwarts student Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. As a human rights activist and global goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, Watson is talented, beautiful and caring – the same characteristics her character Belle possesses.

“I have loved Beauty and the Beast since I was four years old,” Watson says. “I remember Belle as this feisty young woman who spoke her mind and had these ambitions, and was incredibly independent and wanted to see the world. And she had this relationship with the Beast where they were just toe to toe; and that, to me, just seemed like such a terrific dynamic and interesting kind of relationship that I’d never seen before in a fairy tale.”

I remember Belle as this feisty young woman who spoke her mind, had these ambitions, and wanted to see the worldEmma Watson, Belle

In the key role of the Beast, a previously spoiled prince turned into a beast by a curse, Dan Stevens, of Downton Abbey fame, performs in both real life and with computer-generated imagery to get the look of the beast just right.

“He’s got this amazing range,” says Bill Condon, director of Beauty and the Beast. “Taking this part on was taking on a lot more than just playing a role, because of all the incredibly complicated technical things he had to face and the trust he had to place in everyone around him that all that work he did would shine through in the end.”

Welsh actor Luke Evans is Gaston, the shallow suitor of Belle. An accomplished vocalist, Evans grasped Gaston immediately. “Gaston thinks he can do no wrong and does not understand why Belle does not want to be his wife. I mean, God, is she mad? He doesn’t get it… so I really tried to play up the comedic aspects.”

Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, is played by Josh Gad. Famous as the voice of Olaf in Frozen, Gad’s major breakthrough came as one of the leads in the original Broadway production of The Book of Mormon. His extensive experience of musical theatre gives his singing and comedic timing the perfect edge.

Comic partnership: Luke Evans and Josh Gad Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved..

Belle’s father, Maurice, is played by Oscar-winner Kevin Kline. “I remember him as a musical performer when he was very young,” says Condon, “so to get him singing again was very exciting for me as a director.”

Among the prince’s court – all of whom have been transformed into inanimate objects – is Ewan McGregor. Famous for Moulin Rouge and Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, McGregor plays the all-singing, all-dancing Lumière, the prince’s valet now turned candelabra.

Bringing his best Moulin Rouge verve to the character, McGregor sings the memorable tune Be Our Guest in a sensational Busby Berkeley-style musical scene.

Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci, recently seen in The Hunger Games and Spotlight, plays Maestro Cadenza, a member of the prince’s court who was transformed into a harpsichord. His wife, Madame de Garderobe, is played by the sensational opera singer Audra McDonald, who, by the curse on the prince’s court, is now a large wardrobe. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who made her breakthrough in Amma Asante’s Belle, plays Plumette, a maid transformed into a feather duster.

At 76, Ian McKellen makes his musical theatre debut as Cogsworth, the head butler who was changed into a mantel clock. McKellen says of Condon, with whom he has worked several times previously, “When a script comes to you in the mail and you see that it is from Bill, you say yes even before you've read it.”

Father figure: Oscar-winner Kevin Kline with Emma Watson Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Oscar winner Emma Thompson also appears as Mrs Potts, the Cockney housekeeper who is now a teapot, the role made famous by Angela Lansbury.

With Watson and Stevens in the leading roles, the film’s magic, romance and spectacle is further heightened by sensational supporting players who bring emotional nuance to the profound love story that is Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast: a famous and beloved tale 

This March, rediscover the magic of Disney’s classic story Beauty and the Beast in a spectacular live-action adaptation.

With Emma Watson taking on the lead role of Belle and Dan Stevens appearing as the beast, along with a supporting cast including Ian Mckellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad, Luke Evans and more – along with a little help from some spectacular CGI – Beauty and the Beast is a stunning cinematic event.

To find out more about Beauty and the Beast and experience the timeless magic, go to tgr.ph/beautyandthebeast and don’t miss it in UK cinemas from 17 March. Book tickets at disney.powio.com today.