When the announcement was made that Emma Watson was taking on the role of Belle in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, many couldn't picture a better fit for the part. At one time though Watson was considered for another of Disney's icons.
When it came time to launch Cinderella into live action, the studio offered the part to Watson. She eventually turned it down, but it had nothing to do with Beauty and the Beast since at the time that project was still in development. In a recent interview with Total Film (via ENews), Watson explains why she passed on the role.
"I didn't know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella, but when they offered me, Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did."
Watson calls Belle a better "role model", saying "She (Belle) remains curious, compassionate and open-minded. And that's the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice. There's this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her. In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring. She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She's not easily swayed by other people's perspective—not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating."
Watson also pushed for a few tweaks to Belle's character, including her now being an inventor just like her father. Watson always wondered what Belle did "all day", and this was a better explanation than just walking around reading books and singing about them.
Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Beauty and the Beast will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
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