Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Monday, 20 March 2017
Jeremy Hsiao March 5th, 2017
Beauty and the Beast offers a fresh take on the beloved 1991 Disney classic. Directed by Bill Condon, the new live-action movie stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, among others.
As in the original film, Belle (played by Watson) becomes prisoner to a prince-turned-Beast (played by Stevens). The new adaptation adds its own special touches, with musical masterpieces by Alan Menken.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Plumette, a maid who is turned into a feather duster. She falls in love with Lumière (Ewan McGregor), a royal valet who has been cursed into a candelabra.
“It’s really exciting for me because I was so obsessed with the original,” said Mbatha-Raw about her role in the new film. “The first animation came out when I was 8 years old. I had the cassette tape that I would listen to with all the songs.”
This is the first animated CGI character that the actress has played, “so to have the chance of playing a feather duster is something unusual and playful,” she said. “Visually, Plumette does look quite different in the original film. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s been made into a very elegant, dove-like feather duster that can fly.”
While filming Beauty and the Beast, Mbatha-Raw enjoyed working with several notable actors, including Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Audra McDonald.
“These are actors I have admired for a long time. McDonald is just a massive Broadway legend,” said Mbatha-Raw, who recently wrapped up production on Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. That movie, which is directed by Ava DuVernay and due out next year, is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Madeleine L’Engle.
“The experience with A Wrinkle in Time was wonderful, getting to work with young actors such as Storm Reid and Deric McCabe,” Mbatha-Raw said. “It’s a real honor to be able to bring these timeless classics back to life for a new generation.”
Photos courtesy of the author
Saturday, 18 March 2017
She plays a feather duster. But hear her out.
By: Chelsey Burnside
Photography: Nikko LaMere
She’s played a suicidal superstar, an illegitimate mixed-race daughter in not-so-tolerant 18th-century England, and a time-hopping, bisexual party girl who also happens to be dying. But in low-budget, under-the-radar indie flick Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (we know, you’re probably like, what is this student film you speak of?), Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays flirtatious feather duster Plumette. And she’s really darned excited about it.
Gugu—pronounced exactly how you think it sounds—is one of those people who must have been a royal in a past life. (Are real people this beautiful? Do they enunciate their T’s just so? Do they have laughs so twinkly you can almost see the CGI sparkles? Do they get voice mails from Oprah praising their performances? Answers: yes, yes, yes, and true story.)
We caught up with Gugu during her Beauty and the Beast press tour to chat about playing an inanimate object, dancing to Pharrell on set, and being pulled out of a pile of feathers by Ewan McGregor (also known as Living Your Best Life).
Getting the role brought out her inner 8-year-old:
“I think my agent will testify I squealed down the phone with excitement. It was probably the biggest reaction I’ve had to any role I’ve ever won—I think it was that 8-year-old inside of me that was so, so thrilled. I’ve never done a Disney movie before this, so the idea of being a part of it with this incredible cast… I was very excited to be working alongside them.”
What it was like to step onto *that* set:
“It was just dreamy. Walking onto that set was an incredibly surreal moment. All the craftsmanship that went into this movie was just breathtaking. The candles, the flowers, the costumes, the hair and the makeup—it was just so sumptuous. To have us all swirling around that Disney ballroom in our white dresses to the title theme was a very romantic way to start. I will never forget that day.”
Her favorite on-set memories involve Pharrell and Ewan McGregor:
“By the end of the ballroom scene, we’d been dancing all day. When they finally called it a wrap, they whacked on some music and everyone just started dancing of their own accord. It was so funny seeing all of these people in period costumes rocking out to a Pharrell track (laughs). Hopefully that’ll be on the behind-the-scenes at some point.
“[And] being pulled out of a pile of feathers by Ewan McGregor at the end of the movie was quite a surreal moment. [Laughs] I did get to keep some of the feathers, which was fun.”
What it was like to play a CGI-made character:
“Because a lot of my character is a CGI creation, a lot of [the acting] was done in the recording studio, where we’d record our vocal work, and working with a dialect coach because Plumette has a French accent. It was really refreshing to do something a little lighter and more whimsical after playing a few dramatic roles, and very liberating to play an object—I don’t get offered roles like this very often.”
Hold up—it was liberating to play an object?
“[Laughs] It is liberating! You have to go back to that childhood, imaginative part of yourself where you’re like, ‘Okay! I’m a feather duster! Here we go! What would that sound like? What would this be like?’ I think it just takes you back to that childlike ‘let’s pretend’ kind of feeling.”
How music helped her get into her role:
“Every role is so different. For Beauty and the Beast, my vocal coach will testify that when we were in the recording studio, I would be flapping my arms around as if they were wings to try to get that levity in Plumette’s voice. I always listen to a lot of music. I’ll make playlists for each character—that helps me with the emotion of the scenes. Luckily with Beauty and the Beast, the playlist was already written! [Laughs]”