bill condon directing beauty and the beast emma watson on set

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down filmmaker Bill Condon to talk about his live-action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. We discussed the changes he made to the Disney classic, hiding Universal horror homages in his work, the film’s incredible production design, and a taste of the deleted scenes fans can expect on the inevitable home video release. Read our full Bill Condon interview below!

Peter Sciretta: Hi.

Bill Condon: Good to meet you. How are you?

Good. How are you?

I’m very good, thank you.

beauty and the beast mob

I have to ask you about Universal horror nods because you usually include some Easter eggs in your films.

Oh, God yes. Yeah. No, I mean, certainly the mob song with everyone with their torches, it’s straight out of Frankenstein, you know. And obviously Bride of Frankenstein is a favorite movie of mine. There’s a great Una O’Connor scene in that. She has a hat that’s very similar to a hat that Cothilde, the fish wife, the fish monger wears in the celebration at the end. You know, little touches like that. But I think in general it’s the treatment of the monster, right? The sort of poetic, misunderstood monster that really was James Whale’s invention, you know. That’s in that film. And I think it’s something that it’s just a through line from that to The Phantom of the Opera, the Beast, all of these other misunderstood hairy things.

beauty and the beast belles mom

I want to talk a little bit about the choices that you made that go off from the original. I think the most obvious one is the mother subplot.

Yes, right.

Can you talk about what the decision was to bring that into the movie and why?

Yeah. I think it all comes from the basic kind of challenge, which is translating this into really what’s a new medium. So that you have characters, who in this case, Belle has to credibly fall in love with the Beast. Which means we have to sort of make people feel that these two characters are meant only for each other. Which means they have to be less archetypal than they are in the animated film. They have to become more individual.

So to me, that basic question when we find Belle, how did she and her father wind up here? And you start to explore the idea that there was a trauma in the past that the father, that Maurice, has not spoken about. That led him to hide, to kind of disappear from the world, thinking he can get away from any kind of danger. So he went to a place where they don’t belong. And he won’t talk about it. So he’s shut down about it.

So already just to beg him to tell her, tell him something to tell her something about her mother. Already you see that’s a human relationship. And then, specifically, the fact that their mother…she’s inherited from her mother this incredible sense of fearlessness, strength. But the picture’s incomplete. And that, in the course of the movie, the fact that the Beast while being her captor also gives her the chance to discover this thing. It is an extra connection that they have.

And then when she’s leaning over his body at the end and says, please don’t leave me, I think you feel that what the loss that she suffered that’s still so unresolved of her mother and his, the loss of his mother and the way that that left him kind of in the clutches of a terrible father that they both understand each other in a way that probably no one else around them would. Right? So that was the idea.

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