Emma Watson perfect for 'Beauty and the Beast': Bill Condon
Director Bill Condon says actor Emma Watson was always the first choice for Belle in his ambitious live-action reimagining of Beauty and the Beast.
Watson was originally set to star in La La Land, for which Emma Stone won the Best Actor Oscar this year, but things did not work out and she went on to sign the Disney musical.
"I don't know exactly what happened there but I am so glad that Emma (Watson) agreed to do my film. Both are great actors. Emma Stone is fabulous in La La Land and she won an Academy award for that."
"Emma Watson is perfect for Beauty'. She was always my first choice. Sometimes things align in the perfect way," Condon said.
Condon, an Oscar-winning screenwriter, says he knew that reviving the classic story for a new audience would be a huge responsibility.
"Everybody has a favourite memory of the 1991 animated movie. It is still played around the world. I knew it was an enormous responsibility. I was careful about not betraying the soul of this story."
"I remember watching the film and being completely blown away by it. I did this film because I wanted to experience that feeling again. I wanted to reinvent it in the live-action format."
The classic fairytale, about a woman captured by a beast only to fall in love with him eventually, has traces of Stockholm syndrome but the director says they have addressed the issue in a careful manner.
"I am aware of that. In fact, it is the biggest pitfall of the story. But I feel the 1991 version was very progressive in that way. Emma (a noted feminist) is a highly aware actor and we have done it carefully."
"In the film, when the Beast finally declares himself to Belle and says 'Do you think you could you ever be happy here?' She replies, 'How can anyone be happy when they are not free?' She turns him down. She does not allow herself to fall in love with him. It is only when she is free and finds the Beast in trouble that she comes to his rescue."
Condon, known for directing movies like Chicago, Kinsey, Dreamgirls and the two final installments of the Twilight series says he likes to shuffle between independent movies and big budget projects.
"I really like going back and forth between movies. Studio productions are such a huge machine that sometimes you struggle to stay connected to the drama, while it is difficult to get coverage for small movies."