Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored collaboration with Disney. I received an all-expense paid trip from Disney so that I could gather and share this information about the Interview with Luke Evans and Josh Gad. However, all experiences and opinions are always 100% my own as this post is written by me in its entirety. This post contains affiliate links.
Having seen the animation and how Disney always perfects its characters, I was a bit disappointed in the few stage productions I’ve seen of Beauty and the Beast. When you think of the role of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, you clearly envision a brut, but somewhat charming, a madly despised but still wanted man. You can’t decide whether to love him or hate him – but to truly appreciate the character of Gaston, you have to be able to do both. In the end I just wanted to wave a wand and make him disappear, but that was because of the outstanding job he did portraying Gaston. And Le Fou – he made so much of this movie and I was pleased to see him receive the recognition he deserves as a true character, not just a sidekick. Having the opportunity to conduct an interview with Luke Evans and Josh Gad was as amazing as you can envision.
Interview with Luke Evans & Josh Gad
Grab a drink, kick back and relax for this interview with Luke Evans and Josh Gad. This is a long one because everything they had to say had so much value that I simply couldn’t leave anything on the cutting room floor.
The chemistry between Luke and Josh is clearly evident. They seem to be two peas in a pod.
They had a lot of fun playing Gaston and Le Fou – causing trouble wherever they went, but also making people laugh in the process.
Luke and Josh are “massive fans of the original (Beauty and the Beast animation).” They were just kids, 12 and 10 respectively, when the movie first came out. For Luke living in South Wales it meant so much to him be able to escape the dark and gloomy climate. “To go in and watch a Disney film in the little cinema in our village was the highlight of my year!”
Josh recalled a memory from a scene in which the two of them are riding in a wagon with Maurice (Belle’s father). The idea behind calming Luke down with stories about the war was completely improved by Josh. “We had about like 30 variations of it. Some of them were even more insane than what you see on the screen. To bring these characters to life, we both felt very lucky. And we knew that we could have a lot of fun and laugh. And there were moments when some of the funniest moments we had, I think are things that we made up on the moment.”
Both Luke and Josh come from a strong background of musical theatre
“But you’re always hoping, when you get paired with somebody – where it’s all about the chemistry between the two characters. And the day I met Luke, especially because I didn’t even realize we both came from musical theater. Luke from the West Side, me from Broadway. And so we have this common language and this common understanding. And this common goal of wanting to do justice to a movie that was so – I cannot stress this enough – so pivotal in our childhoods.” – Josh Gad
He then continued “The second golden age of Disney animation from Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast, to Aladdin then to Lion King, defined my growing up. They really did. I was 10 years old when Beauty and the Beast came out. And those Allen Menken, Howard Ashman songs, they really were the soundtrack to my childhood. Bringing a song like Gaston to life, that’s like a dream come true. It was incredible.”
Luke on taking on the role of Gaston
I’ve always said, and I always will say, because I think it – a massive part of my creation of a character, especially somebody like Gaston – the look is half of his ego. You know, the hair and the fitted red leather. We went to about four or five incarnations of that leather jacket before we found the right color of blood-red. That represented the sinister part of his nature. I don’t know if you noticed, but that red jacket which is obviously so synonymous with Gaston in the original, it’s the same here. That only goes on when he puts Maurice into the carriage to lock him up. And that’s the first time you see it. And we made that conscious decision. When you put something on like that, there was so much work in it, those buttons and antlers on each button. And I had a pinky ring which was an antler impressed into red stone.
It was all antler themed, as you can imagine. It looked fantastic and you put the wig on and there you go. I remember taking it off on the last day and my hair and makeup lady’s like, “Okay, well, say goodbye to the final time, see you, Gaston.” And she took it off, knowing, “Well, hello you.” But he was a hard character to let go. I think we both felt very sad to let them go. Because we’d had so much fun and brought so much happiness to villains, it is hard for a villain to make people laugh. Yeah, that’s quite a gift, you know, ’cause usually you just make them hate you. But we had the opportunity to do both. And they love you at the end. I mean, like full redemption.
My godchildren are very young and I’ve got lots of kids in my family, who are just a little tired of me doing movies that they can’t watch. So the day that I got offered it, the first thing I did was text all their parents and just say to them, “I’m gonna be in Beauty and the Beast and they can finally come to the cinema. And they all were at the London premiere. And weirdly, they were happy but also a little sad that I was the bad guy.
Josh on bringing life to the character of Le Fou
With Le Fou in particular the character in the original movie is a product of cartoon conceits, right? He has his teeth knocked out. He’s literally thrown across rooms by Gaston, multiple times. There is a part where snow falls on him and makes him a snowman. Which I tried, I fought to bring in the movie. And for me it was about adding dimension, I think for every character. One of the things that I really loved about Le Fou in this particular version is, he does have this interesting arc where he starts to question the blind devotion that he has to this person who, during the course of the film, turns into the real monster. That was such an interesting thing to play.
We didn’t want to just literally recreate a movie that, in of itself is pretty perfect, right? You can’t do that. You have to add, you have to keep building on the legacy of that which everybody is awaiting and looking forward to. But also give them new surprises. For us the new songs, the new moment, all of it adds up in its collective experience, that feels old in the best way. But also new in an amazing way. And that was so important to us.
Recreating these moments, these iconic moments that I grew up with, knowing that my daughters are going to grow up with this as hopefully their definitive version of the story. The reason I signed on for this role was because it was so iconic. Beauty and the Beast was my Frozen. This was the movie I saw five times as a kid. I was saying this to Luke, I can’t think of a big screen musical, live-action, that my kids have seen on the silver screen in their lifetimes. And that is unacceptable to me coming from musical theater. But think about that. This is gonna be for many of your kids and my kids certainly, the first time they ever see a musical screen, that isn’t animated. That’s huge.
Tell us about the challenging parts for your role as Gaston
The physicality of the fight sequence at the end was going to be demanding. It took a lot of stunt rehearsals and training. So I had to come back in quite a few times on weekends once we finished – I came in and they had a big cherry picker which they would raise another six feet and then another. And I was on cables and I had to land, I had to jump and I just sort of reflect what the Beast was doing it in his beastly way. Where I am just a human being. So I have to find a way about doing it like Spiderman with long hair. I managed to get it by the time we shot it. But I think it was about a 42 foot leap that I do in the film with a cable. And it’s a trust exercise. I mean, you’re trusting – it’s not a stunt guy, with your life. And it’s an interesting thing to do. But I found that quite challenging but very rewarding. And thank god it’s in the film. They often don’t make the movie and then you’re really annoyed.
As you well know, I’m a theatre girl. My children have grown up in the theatre. I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast many times on the stage but I’ve never seen a performance like Luke’s as Gaston. Luke brings so much love and strength and power to the character. “I thank you for that” said Luke. I think I saw him blush a bit before he thanked me for the compliment.
As Luke mentioned before, our children are now going to be able to see this musical on the big screen. I appreciate people who come from the theater who can bring a movie like this to life because I think they give it a different experience. I wanted to know what challenges did Luke face bringing a musical to the big screen to make it a perfect production. You’re not on a short time frame with learning your roles and you get to perfect it, but there’s challenges with that.
Well, there’s a fine line in certain roles. Where you can push the theatricality more than others. I felt with Gaston, just the lines on the page were so theatrical in a way, I had a license to push it. But it’s a fine line because if you go too far, you become a parody of yourself. And you don’t want that, you want people to still sort of believe you couldn’t – and the best one with me is like, I know a Gaston. You know, there’s a Gaston in my life. All right, okay, well, I’m certain that is to find this fine line between being a larger than life theatrical sort of creature. But also to stay in the realm of Disney realism which is a challenge. But I’m glad you liked it, thank you, very much. – At which point I was definitely blushing.
Luke: It would have to be the Gaston tavern sequence. For two reasons. One, my song. Two, it was the one piece of the whole film where we got to rehearse for four to five weeks because it was incredibly technical. So we had all the villagers in the room. There’s vignette stories going on which you have to watch it a few times to know that, all that took a lot of time. And honestly, the music was playing throughout the whole thing. There are people on the tables. There was swords, there was murals that we have to reflect in the back of each shot. It was a lot of stuff going on, which took time and development and collaboration and a lot of working it out. But that’s what we come from. We have come from the theater, we’re used to that rehearsal experience. And so to have that on a film, was a joy.
Josh: The end of Gaston. I literally did about 30 different versions of that. And then the one that they chose was – I just realized I’m illiterate. Every time we shot it, it was different. ‘Cause every time my goal was to make Luke laugh. Which got him in trouble. But there were so many opportunities. There’s also a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor, that I hope you’ll see on the Blu-Ray and the Extras. Because there was some great scenes like when we come into the village. Remember, when Belle’s in trouble and we come in – it’s hero time. We come in, and Gaston hands me his gun and the gun goes off in my hand. You just hear a cow die in the background. It was such a funny moment.
Josh: You know, it’s so rewarding to watch an audience now, after two years of working on this in some capacity or another. To now share it with an audience and see the adrenaline boost that it gives the film when all of a sudden, out of nowhere this up tempo song with people dancing on the table. And you can feel the energy of the audience wanting to jump into that and raise a glass to Gaston alongside of you. And that is the brilliance again of these Menken and Ashman songs, they are so unbelievably addicting. Luke and I have now been singing this song in one way or another, for two years. And it’s not because we want to, it’s because we can’t stop, we are literally haunted by these songs. Also, what Bill Condon has done, is just the inclusiveness of it all. I think that that’s a great lesson to take from the film.
Luke: I think that the other night when we had the world premiere here in Los Angeles and people clapped at the end of our number. I mean, it’s crazy. We’ve done what we needed to do here. We are taking people out of the world in which we live and made them escape into this wonderfully technical emotion of this story. Which we are really proud of.
Gaston in particular, represents a really interesting character. Because there’s I think one of the most important lessons to be learned, comes surprisingly out of that character. You have a guy who is provoking fear, based on a character that nobody knows. That people are scared of because they’ve never seen him. But they’re afraid of what he’s capable of. Feeding into those fears and going to attack someone, based on the fact that you’ve never met them before, but what you believe they’re capable of. That’s as relevant today as it was when Beauty and the Beast was first written. I hope kids can look at – and they’re not gonna understand it now, but that’s something as they revisit this film over and over and over again – this idea of never judging a book by its cover, is so important. Right? So that’s what I would say I hope they take from it. Love conquers hate. And that’s basically the running theme. And to watch it all being carried by a very strong female lead character. Who basically at the end of the day, guys, she saves the Prince multiple times. If it wasn’t for her, this story wouldn’t have the backbone that it does. And it comes from a very fearless, independently spirited young woman who reads, who’s intellectual. Who wants to learn.
Who sees that there are no boundaries to her world. It might be right there and then but she knows there’s a world out there to conquer and to discover. And she doesn’t need a man to do it. I mean, she’s a 21st Century Disney princess (or is she?). And Emma was exactly the right person to portray that character. And it’s a role model and you’ve said this and it’s lovely, I mean, the best compliment I guess Emma could have. Is that here’s two girls who are quite young, they will look to her. And you’ll be proud of them and happy for them to see the greatest performance. And Belle, in this version, as a brilliant role model for young ladies. And young boys as well. You know, it’s not just one sex, it’s both sexes can look at this young woman and see, that’s how you should be.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Luke Evans and Josh Gad. Catch up with my interview with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. See the Facebook Live video of Luke Evans and Josh Gad performing with Alan Menken!
Check out the official trailer for Beauty and the Beast.
Beauty and the Beast opens in theatres everywhere on March 17th!
Get social with Beauty and the Beast using #BeOurGuest and #BeautyAndTheBeast
Check out all the fun the bloggers had behind the scenes with #BeOurGuestEvent
Photo Credits: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsandPostcards.com and Disney