Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Emma Watson convinced Disney to give Beauty and the Beast a feminist makeover

emma watson.jpg

When we first learned that Emma Watson was set to play Belle in Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, we couldn’t think of anyone better.

After all, the bookish princess is one of the most feminist in the Disney canon, thanks to her independent streak, her refusal to conform and her bravery.

Watson, meanwhile, has made a name for herself as an intelligent and compassionate actor, striving to better the lives of women all over the world as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women.

In short, it’s a match made in heaven. However, the character of Belle wasn’t quite #girlpower enough for Watson when she first took on the role and she insisted on creating an interesting backstory for her.


Read more: Watch Emma Watson in character as Beauty & The Beast's Belle


Speaking with EW, the actress said she requested that Disney make a few changes to their female protagonist. And, thankfully, the company was all too happy to oblige.

She explained: “In the animated movie, it's her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle.

“I was like, 'Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn't fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?'”

 

#EmmaWatson looks simply enchanting as Belle in this exclusive #BeautyAndTheBeast photo.: Laurie Sparham/Disney

A photo posted by Entertainment Weekly (@entertainmentweekly) on

 

 No one fights like Gaston!  #BeautyAndTheBeast #LukeEvans #Disney : Laurie Sparham/Disney

A photo posted by Entertainment Weekly (@entertainmentweekly) on

She continued: “So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead.

“So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”

Incredible.


Read more: The Disney castles you can visit in real life


In the original animated Beauty and the Beast film, which came out in 1991, the mere thought of Belle loving literature was enough to turn the entire town against her (though of course, she had the redeeming feature of good looks, according to them). “A beauty, but a funny girl,” they sang, as she walked by them. “She really is a funny girl, that Belle.”

Now, in the new movie, Watson’s Belle will be seen putting all the knowledge she’s gleaned from her love of reading to good use. Rather than conform to the gender-prescribed roles of 1740s France, she will be seen turning her back on the housework – and, even better, designing inventions to help women everywhere escape from their time-consuming chores.

Belle’s father, Maurice (played by Kevin Kline) will still be a tinkerer himself, however it seems as if, in the new version of the film, his creations are designed to keep his daughter from wandering too far from home.

Think intricate music boxes playing tunes from faraway places, in a bid to sate her thirst for exploration. As we all know, though, Belle still craves adventure in the great wide somewhere – and she’s bound to get it when she ventures out of that poor provincial town and stumbles across an enchanted castle…


Read more: Emma Watson hides feminist books on the underground


However, while some changes have been made, it seems as if the Tale As Old As Time will weave the same magical tale it did all those years ago, and Watson, for one, is extremely happy about this.

“I can’t even think how many times I watched it as a child," the former Harry Potter star said. “I knew all the words by heart. I knew all the songs by heart.”

 

Josh Gad as Le Fou and Luke Evans as Gaston in #Disney's #BeautyAndTheBeast remake make the perfect pair! : Laurie Sparham/Disney

A photo posted by Entertainment Weekly (@entertainmentweekly) on

Watson will star opposite Dan Stevens in the film, which is due to hit cinemas 17 March 2017.

The movie will also star Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts (the teapot), Ian McKellan as Cogsworth (the clock), Ewan McGregor as Lumière (the candelabra), Luke Evans as Gaston, and Josh Gad as LeFou.

Images: Disney / EW

Related

disney snow white live action remake.jpg

Now this Disney princess is getting her own gritty live-action movie

emma watson.jpg

Watch Emma Watson’s powerful feminist video

Emma Watson.jpg

Our first look at Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast

Comments

More

Espresso tonic is the new drinks trend taking over our Instagram feeds

Meet your new obsession

28 Mar 2017

Revealed: this new life hack could help you fall asleep

Forget counting sheep - research shows this is the way to the land of nod

28 Mar 2017

Rape survivor says judge was 'right' to warn women about 'drunkenness'

Megan Clark waived her anonymity to address the remarks

28 Mar 2017

This ‘penis seat’ is being used to highlight sexism on Mexico’s Metro

The literally uncomfortable seat is "exclusively for men".

by Hayley Spencer
28 Mar 2017

Italy to become first European country to offer paid menstrual leave

Women could get three days off every month

by Sarah Biddlecombe
28 Mar 2017

At last - Britain's first gravy bar is coming

Finally, a proper way to enjoy chips

by Anna Pollitt
27 Mar 2017

“When are you going to get hitched?” How to tackle intrusive questions

Useful responses for the most annoying of questions

27 Mar 2017

Oh, happy day: a live Sister Act show is coming to London

Featuring a 35-piece gospel choir and full band

by Moya Crockett
27 Mar 2017

Westworld creators answer one of the big questions about Maeve

And star Thandie Newton addresses the show’s violence toward women

by Amy Swales
27 Mar 2017

Women link hands on Westminster Bridge to honour victims

Many wore blue as a symbol of hope and peace

by Anna Pollitt
27 Mar 2017