Beauty and the Beast is almost here! This time next week, we’ll be piling into theaters to see Disney’s live-action take on the classic fairytale. But before you do, there are a few things you should probably know.
Thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and the Beast, 96 in-depth pages filled with exclusive details about the live-action film, HC has the inside scoop on what to expect. What began as a two-day London set visit for EW Senior Writer Clark Collis became a leaping off point for the revealing special issue, which the EW staff has been working on since September. Inside you’ll find “all of the nitty-gritty, fun details about how [Disney] put [the film] together,” Entertainment Weekly’s Executive Projects Director Erik Forrest Jackson reveals, as well as a look back at the animated classic.
I spoke with Jackson about this deep dive into the film, and the passion with which the magazine approached the special issue is evident. “At Entertainment Weekly we really pride ourselves on our pop culture passion, and we did our darnedest to infuse every page of [the] special issue with the love of the film and the love of that story.”
Here’s what else I learned.
1. There are three-and-a-half new songs in the film
“Some people might say, ‘What is a half new song?’” Jackson says. “But that is an aria that was written for Audra McDonald’s character, Madame de Garderobe. She’s sort of an opera diva. So she sings an aria, or half of an aria.”
Don’t worry, though—every song from the original film will still be featured. Just consider these three (and a half!) new songs a bonus.
2. Dan Stevens went to great lengths to play the Beast
Now this is impressive. “[Stevens] basically played [the Beast] twice,” Jackson explains. “He did it once for them to capture all of his body movements and then he did it again with all these cameras pointed just at his head to capture his facial expressions and his gestures and movements from the neck up.”
Um, wow. I’ll definitely be picturing that every time I see the Beast.
3. The opening scene might look a bit different to diehard fans
There are bound to be changes when you reimagine an animated film in live-action form some 26 years after the original’s release. But fans will notice one difference right off the bat. According to Jackson, “It sounds as though there’s an opening scene in which you see the castle before the spell, before the freezing.” An early look at the castle before the prince’s transformation? Parfait!
4. There’s a new character you’re sure to adore
Stanley Tucci joins the cast of household objects as a “transformed harpsicord” who is married to the aforementioned Madame de Garderobe.
While McDonald’s character may slay that half an aria, Tucci only agreed to play Cadenza if he didn’t have to sing. Tucci admits in the special issue, “I said, ‘I have a perfectly good career, and I don’t want to ruin it.’”
5. Emma Watson’s Belle is the feminist Disney princess we’ve been longing for
Watson’s insistence on an updated Belle has been highly publicized, but the seemingly small tweaks she made to the character will have a big impact. “In this version, Belle is the inventor, instead of her father being the inventor, as he was in the animated version,” Jackson explains. “And [Watson] wanted, basically, the character to have more of her own sense of self and independence and intelligence.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see this new and improved Belle on the big screen.
The Ultimate Guide to Beauty and the Beast is now available on newsstands or is available from Amazon.com.