Belle was a revolutionary heroine for Disney in Beauty and the Beast. A bookworm with brown eyes and messy brown hair — a first for Disney — Belle was a normal girl from a quiet village who wanted nothing more than adventure and a life that she could call her own. She was fiercely independent (another first) and openly chafed at the idea of domesticity. Belle became the archetype for the modern Disney heroine, and in the studio’s forthcoming live-action version of the animated classic, she’s even more unapologetic in her endeavors.
Emma Watson recently told Entertainment Weekly how her version of Belle differs from the daydreamer we fell in love with nearly 25 years ago. “In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor,” Watson said, “And we actually co-opted that for Belle.”
In Bill Condon’s lavish live-action adaptation, Watson’s Belle invents a “kind of washing machine” so that instead of doing laundry, she’d have more time to dedicate to her reading — and daydreaming. In addition to Belle’s achievements as an inventor (which also aims to set her apart from the other villagers), she’s also inherited a passion for collecting music boxes from around the world.
And those aren’t the only changes you can expect in Condon’s adaptation. Here are a few other things we learned in EW’s magical Beauty and the Beast cover story.
There are two new songs written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice.Walt Disney Pictures
While every song from the original will be featured in the live-action adaptation — including the Academy Award-winning “Beauty and the Beast” — lyricist Tim Rice and legendary composer Alan Menken (who penned the music for the animated film with the late Howard Ashman) worked on two original songs for the film. (Expect at least one of these new additions to be nominated for Best Song at the Academy Awards.) These songs include a ballad performed by Dan Stevens’s Beast called “For Evermore” and a another slow-tempo track called “Days in the Sun,” which will be performed by the entire castle. “It’s a combination of a lullaby and a remembrance of happier days for everybody,” Menken said.
Emma Watson did a few months’ training for her big singing debut.Walt Disney Pictures
Watson looks like Belle, but does she sound like her? Although the Harry Potter alum had “never sung” before landing the coveted role, she did do a few months training to prepare for the iconic musical numbers. After all, it’s Watson who will be tasked with kicking things off in the film’s rousing opening number, “Belle.” She added: “It was nerve-racking, but now I’m in a place where I feel happy with what I’ve been able to do.”
Even Gaston got a bit of a personality makeover.Walt Disney Pictures
Sure, the guy’s especially good at expectorating, but he’s also one of Disney’s smarmiest villains. He feels entitled to Belle’s hand in marriage, even though she’s repeatedly turned him down. However, Luke Evans’s Gaston is “not as brash” as his animated counterpart. “I’d say there’s a little more humanity to the character [now].”
Belle’s signature yellow dress is more like activewear.Walt Disney Pictures
If Belle were a princess today, she’d definitely be into the athleisure trend. According to costume designer Jacqueline Durran, Watson’s Belle is an “active princess,” so her iconic yellow gown had to have a lot of movement. “[Watson] did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way,” Durran said. As for her everyday shoes, Watson ditched the ballet flats for something more practical: sturdy ankle boots. “If you’re going to ride a horse and tend your garden and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots,” Watson said.