Generations of little girls grew up on Disney princesses, dressing as Ariel, Aurora, Belle and others, twirling around their home singing Part of Your World, Once Upon a Dream and Something There, and dreaming themselves into the cartoon role in real life. For Emma Watson, her childhood visions of herself as Belle in Beauty and the Beast are coming true with the Harry Potter- and Brown University-alum set to tame the beast and star in a live action Disney movie.
Watson admits that her six-year-old self would be thrilled and she is really excited. “(Beauty and the Beast) was such a big part of my growing up,” she acknowledged on her Facebook page.
Live action versions of fairy tales have been around for decades (e.g., Ever After), but in recent years Disney has dug deep in its vaults for “fresh” movie material sure to appeal to females. The results have been highly successful with early entries like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the recent Maleficent, and the soon to open Cinderella. Furthermore, the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast is one of the all-time most successful musicals. So, it is only natural for the studio to add Beauty and the Beast to its profitable pantheon of pictures.
Casting Watson is typecasting, but it is also inspiring and intriguing choice, and will undoubtedly be a positive inspiration to little girls everywhere. “The brainy beauty” is a description that works for the actress, Belle and, come to think of it, Hermione Granger (once she straightened her hair). The 24-year-old actress has long been a fan of the 1991 film, which grossed $424 million worldwide.
In 2011, Watson was quoted in an interview as saying “I feel like young girls are told they have to be this kind of princess and be all this sweet stuff.” After calling it “Bulls**t,” she added, “I identify with more of being a warrior princess, so if I had to be a princess, I’d have to kick some ass first.” She has taken that message to heart in establishing a public persona outside of Hogwarts.
In the past year, Watson has been widely praised for her appearances and highly articulate speeches as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and speaking out at the UN, Davos and other places on women’s rights. The irony on her pushes for men to be supportive of women (the He For She campaign) is imagining her interaction with the boorish Gaston. Imagine her reaction when Gaston says ““It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking…” There will no acting involved when she shuts him down. Watson has been quoted as saying, “The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy,” but the line could easily have come from Belle.
Since the Harry Pollter pictures wrapped, she has been showing range in a diverse selection of films. These have included total departures as the slutty Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, larcenous Nicki in The Bling Ring, Ila in the big budget Noah, and more. It will probably be a year before Emma Watson appears on the big screen as beauty and tries to tame Gaston and the beast, but fans and little girls cannot wait.
By Dyanne Weiss