Emma Watson (Noah, Harry Potter) has made it official on her Facebook page that she has signed with Disney to play the book-loving Belle in a live version of Beauty and the Beast. She has stated that she will have to “start some singing lessons.”
Emma Watson is an amazing actress, whether she is playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, Sam from The Perks of Being A Wallflower, or playing an an ax-wielding version of herself in the twisted comedy This Is the End, so there is little doubt that she will also be excellent in the role of Belle. The director of Dreamgirls, Bill Condon, will direct the movie, which will be loosely based on the fairy tale classic and Disney’s animated version of it, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Condon confirmed in an October 2014 interview with EW that the live adaption will include the original the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman songs from the 1991 Disney flick, along with new music from Menken.
Watson expressed on her Facebook page the morning of January 26 how thrilled she was to get to be Belle, writing that the animated film “was such a big part of my growing up.” She added that her “six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting.”
Previous to the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast going into production later this year, Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella with actress Cate Blanchett in the title role, will hit theaters this coming March. Another live-action Disney movie that is in production currently is The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau. Two other live-action movies that Disney has come out with are Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp and Maleficent, featuring Angelina Jolie.
The script for Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson, will be written by Evan Spiliotopoulos. He also wrote the screenplays for the Disney sequels The Jungle Book 2, The Lion King 1 1/2, Tarzan II, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and the prequel The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. Disney has been tight-lipped as to the question if there will be any changes made to the animated film’s plot. There has so far not been a definitive word from anyone at Disney as to if the Beast will be played by someone human, or if the secondary title character will be created through CGI.
Will the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, even with the talented young actress, Emma Watson, as Belle, compare favorably with the animated version? Disney had great luck with Maleficent, which grossed over $240 million worldwide, and the company hopes to have similar good fortune with Cinderella; but, there is no guarantee that either Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast will fare well at the box office.
In some ways, the character of Belle in the Disney animated film was strong and independent, but she has been criticized in light of Disney’s depiction of even stronger and more independent sorts of princesses in movies like Frozen and Disney and Pixar’s Brave. With Emma Watson serving as the official spokesperson for UN Women and a proponent of gender equality, perhaps the script will be changed to enable her to present Belle as being more strong and empowered than the animated version.
Emma Watson will be the next Belle in Disney’s upcoming live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. Like all great actresses, she is certain to put her own spin on the role. Hopefully, Emma will be able to breathe new life into the character, and make Belle come alive and be vibrant, and present a view of an empowered female character for a new generation of Disney fans.
Written By Douglas Cobb