A Different Type of Magic: Emma Watson Cast as Lead for “Beauty and the Beast”
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Known for her iconic role as Hermione Granger and her work as a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson will soon add “Disney princess” to her list of titles.
On Jan. 26, Watson announced via her Facebook page that she would be playing Belle in a new, live-action musical of Disney’s 1991 film, “Beauty and the Beast.” CNN reported that the movie itself has no official release date, though it is currently in pre-production and will begin shooting later this year.
According to the new film’s IMDb page, no other actors have been cast yet, but the production team contains a number of Hollywood veterans. Bill Condon, recently known for his work on “The Fifth Estate” and the two-part finale for the “Twilight Saga,” takes the director’s chair, and Stephen Chbosky will write the screenplay. Watson previously worked with Chbosky during her role as Sam in the 2012 film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
Excitement and trepidation greet the announcement of Emma Watson’s new major role. Second-year student Jacob Gee commented, “I love seeing Emma Watson in movies, but she’s only ever had speaking roles so I don’t know how well she sings.”
Second-year Cameron Lee mused, “If Emma Watson could somehow draw a connection between Belle and her other out-casted, intelligent and bookish character, that would be great.”
According to Watson’s Facebook announcement, the movie will contain at least some of the original beloved Disney songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Something There.” Though Watson has not performed publicly before, she mentioned in her post that she has begun singing lessons in preparation for the musical.
Emma Watson’s position as a U.N. Woman Goodwill Ambassador also places her casting as a Disney icon in an interesting light. Countless parodies-- like BuzzFeed’s “If Disney Princesses Were Real”-- express dissatisfaction with the traditional gender roles of Disney princesses and how falling in love tends to complete their stories.
On Sept. 20, 2014, Watson gave a speech at the U.N. headquarters to launch the “HeForShe” campaign. The movement seeks to spread awareness about gender equality by emphasizing men’s importance in the push for social change. Her newly won role may probe further discussion concerning gender politics, for the media and the general audience.
With Disney’s recent trend of remaking classic films—with titles such as “Maleficent” and the upcoming “Cinderella”—the possibility of moving Belle’s character more towards the progressive model set by Hermione Granger is not far-fetched. For now, however, the public must be content to wait.