For those of us who grew up during the “Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” era of Disney films, the re-releasing of these childhood classics hits on some very nostalgic nerves. At least for this writer, anyway. I have very specific childhood memories tied to all of those animated classics and am looking forward to seeing “Beauty and the Beast 3D” during its limited release (which began today).
Anyway, in thinking about the magic involved in this film – the first animated movie ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar- I can’t help but wonder about the talented voice actors who brought the characters to life. Where are they now? Click through to see what the actors who brought Belle, Beast and Mrs. Potts to life are up to now.
Paige O’Hara – Belle: O’Hara, a trained Broadway actress, has been working with Disney since she won the role of Belle. She has voiced Belle in all the direct-to-video sequels and specials, as well as the “Kingdom of Hearts” video game series. O’Hara had a minor role in 2007’s animated/live-action blend “Enchanted,” and recently revealed to NBC’s Popcorn Biz blog that she’s working as a painter for Disney now.
Robby Benson – Beast: Benson also continued doing voice work for Disney as the “Beast” in various spin-offs and TV specials as well as other voice work for various animated TV shows and video games. He balanced his voice work with a very successful career directing for television. His credits include episodes of “Friends,” “Ellen,” “The Naked Truth,” and “8 Simple Rules.” Benson has worked as a professor at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School and recently collaborated with his daughter Lyric Benson on her debut album. Of being cast as Beast, Benson told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010 that the role was perfect for him. “In my entire career, I would say I have never been so perfectly typecast. [Not only in the voice] but also, as far as the personality, it’s probably closest to me of anything I’ve ever played.”
Angela Lansbury – Mrs. Potts: Lansbury is one of the most beloved and celebrated actresses in the business, from her critically-acclaimed performances on Broadway, to her iconic role in “Murder, She Wrote,” to her countless film roles and other voice acting work. Lansbury has won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, 19 Emmys and been nominated three times for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The woman has not stopped working since she began her career in 1944.
David Ogden Stiers – Cogsworth: In addition to recognition for his work as the by-the-book, uptight Cogsworth, Stiers is perhaps most well-known for his role in M*A*S*H. He has worked steadily in film and television in a variety of roles as an actor and voice actor. He is also a very accomplished conductor and is currently associate conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra in Oregon.
Jerry Orbach – Lumiere: Orbach was a celebrated and beloved actor on the screen and stage. Long before landing the role of saucy French candlestick Lumiere, Orbach appeared on Broadway, originating the iconic roles like Billy Flynn (“Chicago”) and Julian Marsh (“42 Street”). He is perhaps most well-known as Detective Lennie Briscoe on “Law and Order.” Orbach passed away in 2004.
Richard White – Gaston: After giving his very memorable performance as hotheaded, narcissistic villain Gaston, White has all but disappeared from the public eye, but he did resurface briefly in 2001 and 2002 to reprise his Gaston character for Disney’s “House of Mouse.”
Who was your favorite character? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!