Emma Watson has promised her live action version of Beauty And The Beast is “unapologetically romantic”.
The Harry Potter star, 26, takes on the role of Belle in the re-imagining of Disney’s classic film but said she has fleshed out the character for a modern audience.
She told the Press Association: “The wonderful thing about Belle is even in the original I feel like she was very progressive, she was kind of a departure from other Disney princess characters and so I think it was just finding where are the moments where I can fill in a bit more of her back story, where can I pad her out, and it was really fun to be able to do that.”
Arriving at the launch of the highly anticipated film at Spencer House in London dressed in a dramatic Emilia Wickstead gown with a train, she added that the film offers a salve in troubled times.
She said: “It’s pure joy this film, it’s unapologetically romantic and sometimes we need that and I think particularly now we need that, and you come out fuller than when you went in.”
Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens, who takes on the role of the prince turned into a beast, said he was surprised by how much some of the story felt important in the current political climate.
He said: “Considering we made this film two years ago there are now certain scenes that resonate in a way that we couldn’t imagine two years ago and it is strange but that is the magic of fairytales, sometimes they tell a lot of truths.”
The film, which also stars Sir Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Kline, features Emma Thompson as the housekeeper turned teapot Mrs Potts.
The character was voiced by Angela Lansbury in the 1991 animation and Emma said she went straight to her friend for her advice when she took the part.
The Oscar winner said her response to joining the cast was “totally, obvs,” until panic set in.
She said: “You have that reaction but then you think ‘I have to sing that song, that iconic song that Angela Lansbury made so famous and she’s really a singer’ so actually because I know her I was lucky enough to be able to ring her up and say ‘what am I going to do?’
“I have done lots of her parts, I had just done Sweeney Todd and I had rung her about that and of course she was in Nanny McPhee with me and I love her to pieces and she was brilliant and she said ‘Darling it’s the song, it’s not about you. Anyone can sing it, it’s a great song, go and sing it with all your heart for a new generation and enjoy it’, and she just took all the pressure off and told me to go for it, she’s a great woman.”
Sir Ian, who voices Cogsworth, admitted he felt none of the responsibility shouldered by Emma, having not seen the original animation, but said he offered up his services to director Bill Condon nonetheless.
He said: “The people in my life who most care about this enterprise are not small and young at all, they are remembering their own childhood and hoping it will match up to it.”
Beauty And The Beast is released in UK cinemas on March 17.