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 Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. 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.
One thing you may not have known about me is that I am a HUGE fan of the Harry Potter books and movies – and a Hermione fangirl. Having the opportunity to be part of an interview with Emma Watson is beyond anything my younger self could have ever dreamed of – and EVERYTHING for my present self. Starting an interview with compliments from Emma “That’s the nicest welcome we’ve had.” and Dan “That’s beautiful. Hi everyone.” really made for a warm and inviting chat with them. Emma and Dan share quite the chemistry, not just on-screen, but off-screen too which is what makes seeing Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast a must!
Enchanted Interview with Emma Watson & Dan Stevens
So you think you can sing? That’s the question that was on the minds of everyone at Disney when looking for just the right people to cast for the roles of Belle and Beast. The biggest part of the auditioning process for both Emma and Dan was making sure they could sing – because after all this wasn’t just any movie role – this was Beauty and the Beast.
Most are familiar with Emma’s acting from her roles as Hermione and have watched her grow before our very own eyes. For Emma in particular, Disney needed to know if she could sing. She was scouted via audition tape and then waited on pins and needles to hear back. And what a beautiful voice this talented young actress does have. Dan submitted a song, from the Broadway musical, on tape for Director Bill Condon. Although it wasn’t a song that ended up in the movie, lucky us he was cast. While in the animated film Beast doesn’t sing, Dan – the Beast – does in live-action movie – a solo actually!
Fun fact: Belle’s dress to 12,000 hours to make and is covered in gold leaf and Swarovski crystals. Dan’s role as the Beast required him to wear a 40lb muscle suit on stilts covered in gray Lycra. While there were some really giant coats and a massive shredded cloak for the Beast, Dan did not have to physically wear them.
For a fan of the Harry Potter series such as myself, I couldn’t help but notice some resemblances between Hermione and Belle. Both Hermione and Belle are very strong characters. I asked Emma in which ways was she able to shape the character of Belle to help continue the empowerment of future generations that will be seeing this film, both young and impressionable?
That’s a really good question. There was talk at the beginning of a wedding perhaps at the end, and that had not been in the original, and I was sort of like, sorry, can I just point out this isn’t in the original. We need to stay faithful to the original, and I really felt strongly about that. I felt very strongly that she needed to have a vocation to fill her time with and this is very important to me.
So we kind of co-opted what was originally kind of crazy old Maurice’s identity, and I mentioned that’s not the direction that Kevin’s taking the role in. Could I co-opt that for Belle we have her design this washing machine that allows her to have more time to read and to teach. That was super important to me.
Many people – myself included, generally characterize Belle as a Disney Princess. Emma reminded me quickly that was not the case.
People ask me a lot what’s it like being a Disney princess? And I go, well, actually, Belle isn’t a princess. She’s actually one of the few Disney characters in that line of young women who actually isn’t a princess. She’s an ordinary girl from an ordinary village and that’s very important about her. She has no aspirations to be a princess. She has no aspirations to marry a prince. There was a line in the movie originally where Audra, the chest of drawers, says to me “we’ll make you a gown fit for a princess” and I asked Bill, “could I say actually, I’m not a princess?” and he said yeah. It is little things like that where I just felt like I was protecting and defending Belle’s original DNA and just making sure that we stay truthful and faithful to this very independent young woman.
For which I of course thanked her, because as the mother of two young and impressionable girls, I want them go grow up to be independent young woman.
The dance scenes were truly a sight to behold. How long did it take Dan to prepare for them?
Dan: Wow, it was about three months, training for that. We did the Beast Waltz and I have three dances in the film, two, unless you’re counting your walk through the village, which is kind of a song and a dance and sort of choreographed. But no, it was a lot of dance training for this, and particularly for that iconic waltz, and I first learned it on the ground.
They learned with different partners, then they learned it together. Dan had lots more to learn because he also had to dance the waltz on stilts. Then he had to do it in the grand ballroom – to fill the space with the dance, which was a challenge in itself. Dan can now add waltzing on stilts to his resume! How many people can say the same LOL.
CGI played a huge part of Dan’s role as the Beast
Dan: It was motion capture puppeteering of the suit. I’m inside a giant muscle suit on stilts, so the Beast’s body was me moving inside there. The facial capture was done separately, and every two weeks I’d go into this booth, and ten thousand UV dots would be sprayed on my face, and twenty seven little cameras would capture everything I’ve done for the past two weeks just with my face. So it was my face driving that Beast’s face and they turned that information digitally into the Beast’s face and mapped it onto the body that I’d been working on the set. It was lots of CGI and me driving it all and it’s an amazing new technology that’s never been used this extensively before and it’s very, very exciting.
Emma Gives Us The Scoop on Belle’s Dress
I was very heavily involved in the dress. Trying to get the dress right was really difficult because they needed to dress Belle to serve a number of purposes and functions. So it needed to be of the period, so originally she started off with a seventeenth century traditional dress, but then we realized that it didn’t do that really cute twirly thing that it does in the animation when the dress spins behind her.
It has to do that otherwise it’s not right. Back to the drawing board. It’s gotta twirl. It’s gotta be seventeenth century, but the bottom’s gotta be different, so let me try another version of it, which kind of did have that movement. It was lightness, so we made it out of chiffon, and then we were like, she’s also gotta ride a horse in it, and she’s gotta be able to kind of go into the third part of the movie which is where she goes back to see her father. So it also kind of needs to feel like an action hero dress which is why the front of the dress looks a bit like a coat of armor.
It has gold flecks in it and it had that kind of warrior element to it as well. So we kind of created a warrior, modern seventeenth century twisty, twirly dress hybrid.
During our interview with Bill Condon, he had mentioned that Emma had brought a stack of books with her during one of their first meetings. Emma recently started a feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf. As an avid book reader myself, and the mother of two young girls, I wanted to know which one book she would recommend to every young girl to read before they reached high school.
That’s a really good question. I think that’s actually something I’ve been trying to explore more, recently. Judy Blume’s, Are Your There, G-d? It’s Me, Margaret; fantastic. For me the biggest thing was – and it had never occurred to me, which seems ridiculous now – it never occurred to me how few female authors there were on my English literature curriculum, and I’m an English literature major.
When I look back, I’m shocked by how few there were. And I guess I would say that part of it is the content that’s important, but another part of it is making educators and children, children themselves aware of – are we including women’s voices in our curriculum? Are we celebrating female authors? Are we celebrating female artists? Is there any balance there? I think that’s also half of the battle.
Following up on what Emma had just mentioned, in college I read an incredible book called Herland by feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I may have given Emma a little light reading by way of introducing her to the book. I’m really hoping she likes it because she said she would look for it and read it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Check out the opening clip featuring Emma Watson as Belle. A book-loving, kind-hearted girl is exactly the kind of role model I want for my girls!
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