Thursday, 23 March 2017

Video: Beauty and the Beast | World Premiere with cast interview

Beauty and the Beast | World Premiere with cast interview





Published on 7 Mar 2017
Beauty and the Beast World Premiere from 'El Capitan' Theater
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Disney's animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.

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Audra McDonald and Gugu discuss their roles in Beauty and the Beast


AUDRA MCDONALD AND GUGU MBATHA-RAW DISCUSS THEIR ROLES IN BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


 AUDRA MCDONALD AND GUGU MBATHA-RAW DISCUSS THEIR ROLES IN BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

It’s almost opening day for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and today I’m sharing my interview with Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The ladies sat down with us during the #BeOurGuestEvent to talk about their roles as “Garderobe” & “Plumette”. I’d been looking forward to this interview all day. As a woman of color, and mother of a daughter it’s important to see characters like us in movies.
The ladies were so excited about sitting down with us and talking about the film. Audra who’s a new mom beamed talking to us about her newborn daughter, and how she handles working and being a mom. Our first question, of course, was about what drew them to the film.
Gugu Well, for me I was obsessed with the original Disney film. It came out when I was eight years old, I had the cassette tape, made my mom play in the car on the way to ballet and tap and modern, everyday. [LAUGHS] I knew all the words to all the songs and it is still my favorite Disney movie so I had a very personal connection to it. When my agent called and said they wanted me to play a part in this I squealed down the phone, so loudly.
I think it was probably the biggest reaction to getting a job that I’ve every had. [LAUGHS] ’cause I think that little eight year old inside of me was just so excited and it sort of connects you back to growing up with Disney movies. And then this cast is just phenomenal. 
Audra : Yeah, I know, I, when I got the, the call I, I’d known that the movie was being made and I was excited about it and my agent called and he said, ‘so, Beauty and the Beast,’ he’s like, ‘yeah, they’re turning into this, isn’t that great?’ he’s like, ‘yeah, so they want you to be in it.’ I was like, ‘excuse me? That doesn’t make sense. I was like, ‘wh–, what? Why? I mean–.’ But, if Disney calls, like I said, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean? But any way so yeah, so of course, it’s just Disney, you want to be a part of it, so yes, it’s just an automatic yes.
Audra briefly shared with us about Oreos and their plans for a churro flavor before jumping into our next question. She had auditioned for the broadway musical of Beauty and the Beast but wasn’t cast.  Of course, we wondered if she felt like this movie made up for not getting that part.
Audra: On the night before we started filming in London, we all went out to dinner and they had a dinner for the cast and everybody. I’d flown over from New York, I was jet lagged, had a glass of wine, I was like, ‘so, Alan. I auditioned for the musical on Broadway for the ensemble and I didn’t get cast in the ensemble.’ And he goes, ‘I know, I know, I know. Is this okay?’ I was like, ‘yes.’ [LAUGHS] Thank you, this fixes it, thank you.
Audra has one of the most amazing voices I’ve heard. Her voice steals the scenes she appears in the movie. It’s beautiful, sultry and full of power. We were left wondering how she ended up on her musical path.
Audra : Well, this is mommy bloggers right? So, it was a lot of it had to do with my parents and my mom. I was a really hyperactive child struggling, actually and my parents were struggling with trying to figure out how to help me. And I was an overdramatic child and having a hard time in school and whatnot. And they went to the local dinner theater one night and saw a little junior troop that performed before the main musical and it was a group of kids.
I loved to sing at home and all that stuff and I had all this extra energy and drama inside of me. And they said, ‘maybe this is gonna help her.’ And so, I auditioned for that when I was nine years old and that set me on my path and so I really have my parents to thank for looking for something that would be right for me to express who I was and find a way to channel that energy. And so that’s what started me on my path.
I mentioned above the importance of seeing characters of color in films. Disney did an amazing job with casting a multi-cultural cast for this film. We asked about what the ladies were bringing to the film based on their individual backgrounds.
Gugu : Yeah, I mean I guess we’re all just brining ourselves and, thrilled that Bill Condon, the director, had the vision to make it such a diverse cast. It wasn’t really something we discussed, which is kind of cool in this day and age, it just sort of is. And yeah, I’m sort of thrilled about it.
Audra : Yeah, we got told that yesterday, we were doing press yesterday, someone was like, ‘so you guys are, you’re the first and second interracial kisses in a Disney film,’ or something like that, or close to one of the first. In live action and, Gugu and I are like, ‘we are?’ [LAUGHS] ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ We didn’t even think about that.
Hopefully we’ll get to a day where no one has to think about it. That’s what we’re aiming for so I mean I’m just pleased that Disney recognizes that you know, you’ve got to represent the entire world out there. And that’s what they’re doing. 
We asked Audra about how it felt being in a movie like Beauty and the Beast, that will probably become a favorite of her two children.
Audra: When I got cast and I told my daughter, I also have two step-son’s so there’s four in our house. When I I told my sixteen year old that I was doing it, she was like, ‘oh that’s cool.’ And I was like, ‘Emma Watson.’ And she’s like, ‘oh my god.’ [LAUGHS] The kids were most excited about that.
And that thrills me to no end because Emma’s such an incredible role model. I was saying in the press conference, my daughter for her sixteenth birthday and her fifteenth birthday, asked for people to make donations to charities in her name. And that’s because of Emma Watson. You know what I mean? But, that’s what these kids are learning, if that’s your role model, then go, go, go. So, to be a part of this film that’s gonna obviously be a classic and part of the Disney cannon and also be in a film with someone like Emma Watson who has influenced my kids so much is very important to me and one of the reasons I said, ‘yes.’

Lumiere, the candelabra, is smitten with Plumette, the feather duster, in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic which is a celebration of one of the most beloved stories ever told.
Next the ladies shared with us about their experiences preparing for the animated scenes and the live action sequences for the film.
Gugu : Well, for me it was just so liberating. I mean, I’ve never been offered a role like this before obviously, I had to come from doing some quite intense dramatic roles and the idea of playing a feather duster, I sort of thought was so whimsical and fun. But, also you know, it’s a lot of vocal work in the recording studio and finding not just the singing but finding the voice of the character, working on the French accent with the dialect coach and also just really going back to that childhood thing of like, ‘let’s pretend.’ You know, it’s, you’re not limited by your face and your body.
Audra : You know, you have so much more freedom I think. And, as I say it really helps when you get to you know, this huge team who are creating these CGI characters. I just found it incredibly liberating. Yeah and you also, Bill Condon, such an incredible leader, and an amazing director. And you feel very safe with him, so when you’re doing, especially the, the vocal work for the characters, it’s just you, the recording engineers and Bill. You know, and so Bill’s in there with you and he’s saying, ‘okay, now try one like this.’ So, he’s in there playing, you know, with you in a way. And it’s truly just make believe and so it’s, you know, for the wardrobe it was like, ‘okay, she’s kind of trying to get to the staircase at this point so, grunt a little bit.’
Audra : ‘grunt like this, okay now she’s just, snore this way, snore this way, snore and sing a high note.’ I mean so we just, you know, we had the time and the freedom to just sort of explore and then they take that, they go and work with the CGI folks and then the CGI folks bring back something. And then you can then put on top of that, so it’s a real collaborative, it’s a real collaborative effort. It takes a village, it takes a massive village for this one.

Belle (Emma Watson) learns that the Beast’s castle is enchanted in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, directed by Bill Condon.
As you can imagine the wardrobe for the film is amazing. Gugu and Audra shared with us details about the costumes they had for their live actions scenes and how it inspired their animated characters.
Gugu : Jacqueline I forgotten her last name, she’s done all of Joe Wright’s movies, she did Atonement, Anna Karenina, incredible costume designer. On my first costume fitting, she said, ‘okay, would you like to meet your object?’ [LAUGHS] In the room, they had the feather duster on a stand and I was kind of taken aback because Plumette is quite different to the feather duster Fifi, who’s more sort of mopped like, in the original.
And I was pleasantly surprised to see that they made her into this sort of flying dove like peacock like, very dainty creation. So, in the costume fitting, we played around with the bird theme, I had a big tail feather on one of my costumes, a huge bustle which also worked with the period. And feathers, I had feathers in my hair, we played around with this sort of Marilyn Monroe style wig so it was kind of fun for me to blonde which is just so outrageous.
Audra : And we both got to be blonde. [LAUGHS] But with the wardrobe, the first time I sat in the chair and the dress being so large that I couldn’t walk in any regular door to get to set, I had walk sideways. And, and scrunch because once they started putting the wig on, they put the first part and I was like, ‘wow, that’s big, that’s tall’ and she said, ‘hold on.’  Now ‘the top part,’ ‘okay,’ then birds and stuff started going, I was like ‘oh my goodness what is going on?’ But, it makes perfect sense because once she’s transformed to the wardrobe, the top of the wardrobe if you notice is her wig. And you couldn’t even see them but this is the detail that Disney pays attention too. The shoes that I wore were the feet of the wardrobe, so if you’d actually seen my shoes, they curled up into the exact sort of way that the legs of the wardrobe and all of that. I mean and even within the design of like our make up and all of it is echoed in our objects.
We had asked everyone we spoke with during interviews what they wanted the audience to take away from the film, so we had to make sure we got the ladies point of view as well.
Gugu : Well I hope that people will get swept up in the romance and the music is just so iconic. I love the message that beauty is found within, it’s an oldie but a goodie. But, I think really for this film the idea to look a little deeper, see the human within each and every person even if the exterior is something that intimidates you or you’re not familiar with. There’s always a human underneath it all. And I think to try to connect to somebody’s soul, is really important.
Audra : Yeah, and also that love, there’s always the love conquers all, love wins and it’s not about just giving the love but loving yourself too. I think that’s what’s so important. And realizing that what you have inside of you is most important and not the outside doesn’t necessarily matter. And I’m sure that’s what people are gonna take away from this.
I was in awe when I saw the film. I wanted to see it again immediately after we screened it. For actors and actresses though it’s different the way they view a finished piece of work. Audra and Gugu talked briefly about how it felt for them to see it all come together.
Gugu : It was breathtaking. I saw it for the first time just two nights ago at the Hollywood premier and to see it with an audience and people are applauding after musical numbers. You know, at a screen and it just brought back all those memories of those songs. There’s a couple of new songs in this version of the film. Days in the Sun and also the Beast has his own solo. So, yeah, it was really overwhelming.
Audra : I saw it at the London premier and I was so shocked at how moved I was. And I really felt that I was watching it as an innocent sort of general audience member. Not someone who had been a part of the film. I hate watching myself on film or on screen at all and this I sort of felt completely removed from it. I didn’t really see myself up there, I was just in the world and I was weeping at the end and I was like, ‘I was there, I was in the scene. Why am I crying so much?’ You know, but it was just you get swept up, you get absolutely swept up. You know?

The mantel clock Cogsworth, the teapot Mrs. Potts, Lumiere the candelabra and the feather duster Plumette live in an enchanted castle in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST the live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic directed by Bill Condon.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens in theaters everywhere on March 17th. Check out the trailer below.
About Beauty and the Beast:
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” a live-action adaption on of the studio’s animated classic featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
Directed by Bill Condon and based on the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. The film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Video: Beauty and the Beast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Plumette" Behind the Scenes Movie Interview

Beauty and the Beast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Plumette" Behind the Scenes Movie Interview

Published on 2 Mar 2017
Beauty and the Beast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Plumette" Behind the Scenes Movie Interview
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Photos: Gugu in Stella magazine for The Telegraph








Gugu Mbatha-Raw Sings With ‘Beauty And The Beast’ And Teases ‘God Particle’ [Interview]






Let’s be honest. Gugu Mbatha-Raw should be a star.  After her revelatory performances in “Belle”and “Beyond the Lights” she should be on the short list of must-land leading ladies from prestige Oscar bait to summer blockbusters.  It hasn’t happened yet, but the Brit is in the middle of a noteworthy phase of her career that might finally put her front and center.
Last year Mbatha-Raw co-starred in the incredible “San Junipero” episode of “Black Mirror” and stole a scene or two from Jessica Chastain in “Miss Sloane.”  This past weekend she starred in the box office smash “Beauty and the Beast” as Plumette (a mostly vocal performance) and in October will appear in the Sci-Fi thriller “God Particle” which was recently revealed to be the third installment of the “Cloverfield” franchise (whatever that really means).
Early this month Mbatha-Raw took some time to sit down and chat about her experience shooting “Beauty,” the reaction to “San Junipero” and whether she knew “God Particle” was a franchise film or not.
_____
Gregory Ellwood: How did it come to you? How did it get in your inbox?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Oh my gosh, I just got a phone call from my agent about it and it was an offer for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and I am so obsessed with the Disney original I squealed down the phone because I think I saw the original when I was eight-years-old and it is my Disney film so it was a very surreal moment for me. I think my childhood self was just kind of ecstatic to be a small part of it. Then when I heard about the cast and obviously Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, but actors like Emma Thompson and Sir Ian McKellen — these legendary English actors that I have looked up my whole career. It was a no brainer really.
Your performance is mostly voice over because you’re playing the feather duster, Plumette. Were you able to record at all with any of your other cast members?
No, it was completely solo. We did have the wonderful Bill Condon directing us and getting us to try all the vocals different ways, the accent, working with a vocal coach.  The most fun part that we got to do all together was the final ballroom scene and in fact, my first day was a ballroom dance rehearsal with Ewan McGregor which was the first time that we got to meet.  That was kind of a lovely ice breaker to suddenly be thrown in a dance studio and trying to learn to waltz basically. That was kind of amazing and then we also had the transformation day where we all transform from our objects and I get pulled from a pile of feathers which is pretty fun.
Did that occur before you recorded your voice performance?
We did it in stages. We did some recordings around that time and then we did the filming part of it. Then we did some more vocal recordings and a few months went by while they did some more of the special effects and then we came back again six months later. it was sort of all done in stages as every department brought the characters to life and we were able to add to it.
You get to sing in the movie as well. Were you excited about that opportunity as well?
So thrilled. Obviously Plumette doesn’t really get any solos or anything, but there is a new song ‘Days In The Sun’ in this version which is especially for the household objects which I think is very romantic and beautiful.  We were all in different part [of the] harmony which was lovely and then to be able to be laying down vocals for tracks like ‘Be Our Guest,’ even in the chorus of that song, it’s so iconic. Singing that song, you just have it in your head for the rest of the day. It’s so catchy. That was really, really cool.
You said this was your favorite Disney animated film. For lack of a better cliché, were you pinching yourself for an opportunity to be in the live action version? 
The whole time. It was so surreal. Stepping on to that Disney ballroom set, I remember walking on there with Emma Thompson. We both hadn’t gotten into our costumes yet but we just went to rehearse on the set and our jaws dropped. The whole ballroom was garlanded with flowers. You could smell the flowers. They were real. Real candles that people had to light and snuff between takes. Our jaws dropped and Emma was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It really just had lashings and lashings of that Disney magic.
You’ve had this amazing year. Many people had seen your previous work, but because of Netflix they’ve now seen you in ‘Black Mirror’ and they’ve seen ‘San Junipero,’ arguably the most buzzed about episode of the last season. Have you gotten lots of feedback from that? People love that episode so much.
From ‘San Junipero’? Yeah. It’s been wonderful. All positive. People have said to me it’s their favorite episode. Grown men have told me it’s had them in tears. I think it’s really surprising and wonderful that it’s affected people.
Did you realize that at the time when you were shooting it?
You never know how anything is going to turn out really. I know we had a great time doing it and I remember when I first read it, it was just so refreshing and the twist just took me by surprise and I just loved the music and the era and then when you see it together, again the music is so emotive. It really takes you to a place. Yeah you can never anticipate and you don’t want to be complacent about these things but I think it’s sort of turned out better than any of us expected.
You’re right you don’t always know how it’s going to turn out. When you saw ‘Beauty’ for the first time was there anything that surprised you?
I’d seen various versions where the special effects weren’t completely done and I often have reservations about movies with CG. Especially if we’re supposed to care about the characters. There’s often a disconnect. I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah I can tell that this isn’t a human kind of thing. I just don’t feel emotionally connected to this creature that is computerized.’ I was nervous especially for the Beast I think and then when I saw the final version, it was kind of amazing to me that it seemed like he had a soul. I don’t know what they had done but that dance performance and everybody else’s work combined, really gave the Beast … There’s this humor and you see into his eyes. Again, you really feel like more than many CG characters that I’ve seen that they really accomplish something very human with him.
Before you even recorded, did they show you a sketch or rendering of what Plumette was going to look like
Yeah my first costume fitting Jacqueline Duran, the costume design, said, ‘Would you like to meet your object?’ We walked into this room and there was … She’d prepared it all. It was so beautiful. She had Plumette on a stand, this beautiful feather duster about this high, with the feathers and everything and that was the first time I’d seen it because in the original, I don’t know if you remember. She’s not called Plumette, she’s called Fifi and she’s very mop like. More like an ostrich with a long handle and a mop end and brown. More like a French maid at the end but brown mop and when you look at the Plumette that we have which is this very elegant feather duster, more like for dusting ornaments than mopping floors. I was pleasantly surprised that they’d reimagined her almost like a dove or a white peacock. We definitely put a lot of the feathers into the costumes and wherever we could. Jacqueline was putting feathers in the bustle. We were playing on that tail feather idea. I had feathers in my wig.  I got to be blonde which was fun – an ode to Marilyn Monroe a little bit – but we added some feathers in there as well just to make it whimsical.
Can we talk about that amazing outfit that when you transformed into? What was your thoughts when you saw it and did you want to take it home?
(Laughs.) No, although I did steal some feathers because in the transformation scene – spoiler alert – I got buried in a pile of white ostrich feathers. This huge pile and it was a hole in the ground. You can’t really tell, but [Ewan] pulls me out of a huge pile of white feathers and they were ginormous and I smuggled a few of those home, but no the costume is wonderful. It had a corset type shape and everyone was all in white, cream and then the ballroom scene had this hoop skirt and when we’re swirling around, everyone’s skirts move. It’s very romantic.
Was that hard to do that dancing? Was it tough choreography or was it easier than-
It was tough to … When we were learning it, I had just flown in from LA that morning. I was so jet lagged the first dance lesson. Oh no. My tea bag is caught in my ring. There we go. Yeah so it was … I don’t know it was fun to learn it with Ewan because he’s got a great sense of humor and it’s a great way to get to know somebody and also I don’t know. There’s just something really fun and liberating about dancing.
My last question for you is I know because ‘God Particle’ is a J.J. Abrams production so can probably say zero about it, but when you made it did you know it was part of the ‘Cloverfield’ franchise?  That it was third movie?
No.
You had no idea?
No.
You found that out later?
Yeah.
Was it a fun experience at least?
It was amazing. It was very intense but it was a amazing experience and again another phenomenal cast.
“Beauty and the Beast” is now playing nationwide.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Kid Reporter’s Notebook - Beauty and the Beast with actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw

KID REPORTERS’ NOTEBOOK

Beauty and the Beast


Jeremy Hsiao interviews Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays the role of Plumette in the film.
Jeremy Hsiao interviews Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays the role of Plumette in the film.
Jeremy at the press screening for Beauty and the Beast
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.”
Jeremy Hsiao interviews Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays the role of Plumette in the film.
Jeremy with actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw
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.”

“TIMELESS CLASSICS”
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

#BeOurGuestEvent: Exclusive Interview With Audra McDonald (“Garderobe”) & Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Plumette”) #BeautyAndTheBeast

#BeOurGuestEvent: Exclusive Interview With Audra McDonald (“Garderobe”) & Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Plumette”) #BeautyAndTheBeast

Beauty And The BeastBEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens in theaters everywhere on March 17th!

Audra McDonald (“Garderobe”) & Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Plumette”) were a pleasure to speak with during our press event. So why did these lovely, talented ladies want to be a part of Beauty and the Beast?
Gugu was only eight years old when the animated version was produced. She told us that she was obsessed with the original Disney film and used to make her mother play her cassette tape in the car on her way to dance everyday. “I knew all the words to all the songs and you know, it was, it is still my favorite Disney movie so I had a very personal connection to it.  And when my agent called and said they wanted me to play a part in this I squealed down the phone, so loudly.”
Audra heard that they were going to make a live version of Beauty and the Beast, so when her agent called her and told her what changes they were making in the story and that they wanted her to be in it, at first she didn’t fully comprehend…“I was like, ‘excuse me?  That doesn’t make sense.”

“But, if Disney calls, like I said, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean?” ~ Audra

Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
I remember watching Private Practice and being intrigued with Audra McDonald. She played such a strong role and very memorable. I didn’t realize that she could sing (I’ve must have been living under a rock…because she has a powerful voice). Audra grew up in Fresno, California (about 45 minutes away from where I currently live). She was born into a musical family and received her classical vocal training at Juilliard! When you watch Beauty and the Beast, you will be blown away…as her voice lights up every scene she is in!
“I was a really hyperactive child having, struggling, actually and my parents were struggling with trying to figure out how to help me.  And I was an overdramatic child and having a hard time in school and whatnot.  And they went to the local dinner theater one night and saw a little junior troop that performed before the main musical and it was kid, a group of kids. And I loved to sing at home and all that stuff and I had all this extra energy and drama inside of me.  And they said, ‘maybe this is gonna help her.’  And so, I auditioned for that when I was nine years old and that set me on my path and so I really, I really have my parents to thank for looking for something that would be right for me to express who I was and find a way to channel that energy.  And so that’s what started me on my path.” ~ Audra
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
It was great to see such a multicultural cast in the film. Gugu told us they they all just brought themselves to the film and she was “thrilled that Bill Condon, the director, had the vision to make it such a diverse cast.  You know, it wasn’t really something we discussed, which is kind of cool in this day and age, it just sort of is.” Someday, hopefully we will live in a day and age where people don’t even think about the color of your skin or your sexual orientation. Audra is “pleased that Disney recognizes that you know, you’ve got to represent the entire world out there.  And that’s what they’re doing.”
Audra‘s daughter was so excited for her mother to work with Emma Watson. This was a surprise to me, only because Audra is such a talented actress and singer…but then again, she is mom. Kids view their parents in a different light. Audra actually said she was thrilled that her daughter was excited about Emma, “because Emma’s such an incredible role model.” Audra is an incredible role model herself, but she never once talked about her accolades…she only had wonderful things to say about her fellow cast members. What really impressed me was when she told us that for her daughter’s 15th and 16th birthday, she asked for people to make donations to charities in her name! Audra said, “That’s what she asked for and that’s because of Emma Watson.”
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
Kids learn so much from what they watch…and it’s nice to have role models like Emma, Audra, and Gugu around for our youth to look up to!
Both of these actresses had to play a real person and an animated prop in the film. Gugu told us “it was just so liberating.”  This was such a different role for her…as she came from intense dramatic roles and now she was going to play a feather duster. She thought it was “so whimsical and fun.”  Finding her voice was challenging. She put in a lot of vocal work to make Plumette come to life. She worked on her French accent with a dialect coach and got into the mood of her childhood of “let’s pretend.” She didn’t feel limited by her face and body, she was free to use her voice to explore!
Gugu was pleasantly surprised to see that her object was a sort of flying dove/peacock…a very dainty creation. Her costumes mimic the bird theme. One of her costumes had a big tail feather and a huge bustle…and tons of feathers in her hair. It was fun for Gugu to be a blonde, “which is just so outrageous.”
Beauty and the Beast Plumette
Audra explained how safe she felt with Bill Condon, the director. “Bill’s in there with you and he’s saying, ‘okay, now try one like this.’  So, he’s in there playing, you know, with you in a way.  And it’s truly just make believe and so it’s, you know, for the wardrobe it was like, ‘okay, she’s kind of trying to get to the staircase at this point so, grunt a little bit.’ ‘grunt like this, okay now she’s just, snore this way, snore this way, snore and sing a high note.’  I mean so we just, you know, we had the time and the freedom to just sort of explore and then they take that, they go and work with the CGI folks and then the CGI folks bring back something.  And then you can then put on top of that, so it’s a real collaborative, it’s a real collaborative effort.  I, you know, it takes a village, it takes a massive village for this one.”
Beauty and the Beast Garderobe
Audra‘s costume was so large that she couldn’t walk in any regular door. She had to walk in sideways! Her wig was just as large! If you notice in the film, when she’s transformed into the wardrobe her wig is actually the top of the wardrobe. “You couldn’t even see them but this is the detail that Disney pays attention too.  The shoes that I wore were the feet of the wardrobe, so if you’d actually seen my shoes, they curled up into the exact sort of way that the legs of the wardrobe and all of that.  I mean and even within the design of like our make up and all of it is echoed in our objects that we were.” Now her wig was two feet off her head and extremely heavy. She couldn’t sit down on set or hold her head up for long periods of time. The carpenters built her a lean to, so in between takes she could lean back and relax.
Gugu hopes that people will get swept up in the romance of the film. “I love the message that beauty is found within, you know, it’s an oldie but a goodie.  But, I think you know, really for this film, you know, the idea to you know, look a little deeper, see the human within each and every person, you know, even if the exterior is not, is something that intimidates you or you’re not familiar with.  You know, there’s, there’s always a human underneath it all.  And I think to try to connect to somebody’s soul, is really important.” 

“Love conquers all, love wins and it’s not about just giving the love but loving yourself too.” ~ Audra

Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
Photo Credit: Coralie Seright – Lovebugs and Postcards
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s live-action adaptation “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.