‘Beauty and the Beast’ Star Breaks Silence on Live-Action Remake, “It’s Not Our Story”

in Disney, Movies

Two images side by side comparing animated and live-action versions of beauty and the beast; on the left, a cartoon belle and beast dancing, on the right, actors in similar poses and costumes.

Credit: Disney

Beauty and the Beast (1991) star Richard White recently broke silence on the 2017 live-action remake of the classic Walt Disney Animation Studios film. Inside the Magic caught up with the voice actor behind Disney villain Gaston as he spoke during a panel at C2E2 on Sunday, April 28, 2024.

Decades after its Tony Award-winning adaption on Broadway, Walt Disney Studios attempted to mimic its success with a live-action Beauty and the Beast. Even with a star-studded cast including Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, and Dan Stevens, it fell flat. Viewers complained about the lack of dazzling effects, increased autotune, and new music. Mostly, though, Disney fans wanted to hear new stories instead of repeatedly rehashing old ones.

Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere all looking sad in a dark room
Credit: Disney

Disney hasn’t listened; instead, it attempts to mimic the rare box office success of hits like The Little Mermaid (2023) and Maleficent (2014). This year, Walt Disney Studios will release a sequel to the live-action version of The Lion King (2019), Mufasa: The Lion King (2024). Other unpopular live-action remakes include Mulan (2020), Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), and Pinocchio (2022).

We know what fans think. But how does the talent involved in the original movies feel about the recreations of their films?

White spoke graciously about his complicated feelings toward Beauty and the Beast (2017). He shared that the original film’s cast excitedly went to see the remake, and he found Luke Evans (Gaston) “very talented.”

A woman interviews Richard White on a panel stage at C2E2.Credit: Jess Colopy, Inside the Magic

Ultimately, though, White felt the live-action version of the “Tale as Old as Time” was yet another retelling of the classic fairytale–even if Disney produced it. “It’s not the same thing,” he said.

I think, personally, that this fable adapts beautifully to animation,” White explained. “[Animators] can create the worlds they imagined.”

With the direction of Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and music by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the animated Beauty and the Beast made a quaint French town magical without taking viewers out of the story. Even with movie magic, White explained, live-action filmmakers must be concerned about gravity.

the mob song from beauty and the beast is definitely about homophobia and transphobia at least a little bit
Credit: Disney

Additionally, live-action filmmaking brings the messiness of the real world into the Disney Princess film. Gaston, for example, was given a backstory about PTSD; the bubonic plague was incorporated into the story to match the time period. Despite using the same setting, Walt Disney Animation Studios didn’t have to provide that context when creating Beauty and the Beast.

“It’s a different story,” White said.

Should Walt Disney Studios continue making live-action remakes of animated films? Share your opinion with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

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