While skepticism was more than warranted when Disney began announcing a slew of live-action remakes of its animated classics, the studio’s track record thus far is cause for optimism. Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella was a lush, delightful riff on the fairy tale; Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was jaw-droppingly realistic; and Pete’s Dragon is perhaps the most earnest, least cynical film of the year. So when it comes to 2017’s Beauty and the Beast—no doubt Disney’s most ambitious live-action remake yet—there’s plenty of reasons to be hopeful that this new rendition will be a worthy companion to the animated classic.
However, when Beauty and the Beast hits the big screen, there are some changes in store, and one in particular involves altering Belle’s life pre-Beast. Speaking with EW, Emma Watson explained that Belle is now portrayed as an inventor:
“In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle. I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
This actually makes sense. There are things you can get away with in an animated film that become a bit less realistic when transferred to live-action, and it’s nice to hear that Watson—who has spent much of her post-Harry Potter career dedicated to charity work and furthering feminism throughout the world—had some strong ideas about where to take Belle in the movie.
Watson is actually having a bit of a reunion in Beauty and the Beast, as the film is co-written by her Perks of Being a Wallflower writer/director/author Steven Chbosky. The whole team Disney assembled for this movie is top notch, including director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Twilight: Breaking Dawn), and I can’t wait to see this thing on the big screen.
Beauty and the Beast opens in theaters on March 17th and also stars Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.