Disney's next hit, Beauty and the Beast, is destined to tear up the competition at the box office -- and potentially take a record setting bow as interest soars. In this updated version of the animated classic, Dan Stevens is portraying both the titular Beast and the human prince that he once was.
The role was performed in a combination of motion-capture and CGI, which made for a grueling experience for the actor. Stevens said that the true challenge was finding the right balance between the Beast's human qualities and his darker impulses.
"I think there's a bit of Beast in all of us," he said. "That was kind of the way that Emma [Watson] and I wanted to approach both of the characters, really. It was exploring the masculine and feminine energies, and sort of the essence of the myth. The Beauty and the Beast in all of us.
"I guess in our version, we look more closely at the backstory of the Beast and the Prince, as he was. Looking at what caused him to be cursed in the first place. We looked at this idea of arrogance, and privilege, and wealth, and the abuse of that kind of power. And also his inability or his reluctance to fall in love or be interested in love, although we see him dancing with sixty princesses and not really connecting with any of them. Which we counterpoint with the waltz at the center of the movie."
According to Stevens, the selfish prince that we meet at the beginning of the movie is not necessarily the same Beast who appears later. In the years since he was cursed, the Beast may have been working on his own issues even before Belle came along.
"I think that we were looking at those qualities led him to be cursed, the period of time he's had to reflect on those, and how many of those he may have already remedied in his own mind and being," Stevens said. "And what Belle then comes and finds in him. So, it's really about Belle finding the man in the Beast. The good man inside the Beast, or the good man inside of the bad man...and redressing that balance in him, I think."
Beauty and the Beast currently has a 3.31-of-5 in the ComicBook Anticipation Ratings and 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 and soul of the true Prince within.
Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belles eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston's long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
Beauty and the Beast will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
-- Blair Marnell is a freelance writer for ComicBook.com. Follow him on Twitter for more of his insights.