With the release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast only a month away, Disney is kicking into high gear with their marketing for the surefire blockbuster hit. Below check out highlights from Emma Watson’s interview with Entertainment Weekly where she discusses what attracted her to the role of Belle, the prep work needed for the part, addressing the “Stockholm syndrome” comments and even her views on gender equality.
“Beast and Belle find their common ground because they both feel really lonely. They both feel like outsiders in their own world,” Watson says. “Belle is trapped in her surroundings, in her village, and Beast is trapped in this castle. There’s this sort of strange mirroring.”
“I had never danced for a movie before,” Watson says. “I kind of went into this boot camp for three months before we started shooting, which was singing four times a week, dancing five times a week, riding [horses] three times a week. Yeah, I did Belle boot camp.”
“Gaston is someone who has had nothing but love and admiration and easiness and because he’s never suffered he doesn’t have any empathy,” Watson says. “He’s essentially a narcissist… With Beast, you can tell he’s being unkind because he’s unkind to himself.”
Emma Watson as Belle, riding Philippe through the snowy woods that surround Beast’s enchanted castle. Her version of Belle has an action-hero element. “I feel so blessed to have already played one of my childhood heroes, which was Hermione, and then to get to play another one… I feel like that’s almost unique to an actress to get to do that,” Watson says.
Music supervisor Matt Sullivan, director Bill Condon and Emma Watson on the village set of the movie. “With actors who get to choose their roles, you look at their resumes and you start to see a kind of autobiography emerge,” Condon says. “From what I’d already seen of Emma, she seemed to be the person both onscreen and off, who best reflected the qualities that Belle embodied. There’s no question Emma has a better sense of where feminism stands right now and what’s relevant with regard to women’s issues than I ever will.”
“What I love about Belle is that, if you look at her within the category of Disney characters, she is kind of the rogue,” Emma Watson says in EW’s new Beauty and the Beast cover story. “She takes a different course and that was always what I loved. When I think about Belle, I think about her singing ‘Belle (Reprise),’ coming out of her house and singing this song which is bursting out of her… ‘I really just want something more, I want something else.’ Like, ‘This doesn’t fit. I don’t fit.”
“[Belle] is like the Robert Frost poem. She takes the road less traveled, and I always really identified with that,” Watson says. “Belle is no sheep… [Laughs] She’s friends with sheep. She is friends with sheep [in the animated version.] But there’s this defiance, and that energy, that spirit was really what I identified within her.”
“We are always slowly moving towards progress, but it does feel as though we take one step forward, we go back a bit, we make progress, then there is a push back,” Watson says. “Women’s liberties are one of the first things that people try to curtail because it’s an easy way to try and feel that things are being better controlled if women are kept nicely and neatly in their place.”
Watson has been a goodwill ambassador representing the HeForShe campaign, the United Nations solidarity movement urging men to support feminism. “The thing that was really important for me about that movement was men understanding that it was not just them helping us,” she says. “This is, in a way, helping or saving themselves in order to make themselves more full and more human and more whole.”
“If I asked a young boy what superhero they looked up to, I feel a lot fewer would say a female one or would ever use an example of a female one, than in reverse, which is a shame. We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men. I hope that’s starting to slowly change, but it is something that does actively need to be addressed.”
What about the issue many have brought up about the Beauty and the Beast tale being a story highlighting Stockholm Syndrome? Emma Watson was asked this directly during the interview with EW and here was her response.
“It’s such a good question and it’s something I really grappled with at the beginning; the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story,” she says. “That’s where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor. Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.”
“I think there is a very intentional switch where in my mind Belle decides to stay. She’s giving him hell. There is no sense of, ‘I need to kill this guy with kindness,’” Watson says.
“In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There’s this defiance that ‘You think I’m going to come and eat dinner with you and I’m your prisoner — absolutely not,’” Watson says. “I think that’s the other beautiful thing about the love story. They form a friendship first and that gap in the middle where there is this genuine sharing, the love builds out of that, which in many ways I actually think is more meaningful than a lot of love stories, where it was love at first sight.”
“Beast and Belle begin their love story really irritating each other and really not liking each other very much. They build a friendship, slowly, slowly, slowly, and very slowly that builds to them falling in love,” she says. “They are having no illusions about who the other one is. They have seen the worst of one another, and they also bring out the best.”
Beauty and the Beast arrives in theaters March 17, 2017.