Disney 1991 Beauty and the Beast Film 30th Anniversary Cast Interviews

Disney’s 1991 Animated Film Reception Beauty and the Beastcelebrates its 30th anniversary this month, has spawned a Broadway musical and a live-action remake and grossed nearly $425 million at the global box office and holds a special place in people’s hearts. fans and voice actors of the film.

Paige O’Hara, who voiced Belle, recalls recording the Broadway soundtrack with co-star Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts).

O’Hara said: “We were all in tears. The Hollywood Reporter. “And I think it was one of the best moments of my career, being there with Angela.”

The multi-award winning soundtrack is one of the many reasons the beloved series has stood the test of time. It doesn’t matter that this is the first animated film to win a Best Picture Oscar nomination. But what does it really do? Beauty and the Beast stand out, according to its cast, are parts of the story that continue to be relevant today and it paved the way for stronger, more independent princesses who were allowed to become women. not just looking for Prince Charming.

“Paige, herself, as Belle, was [women] the right to wisdom, to read, to put reading above others, and [showed them] That’s okay,” said Richard White, who voices Gaston.

O’Hara echoed that sentiment, saying, “If it weren’t for Belle and Ariel, there wouldn’t be Mulan. The princesses just keep getting stronger, and they don’t need a man to stay with. looking for happiness. The Beast happened, but she wasn’t looking for him, that’s for sure.”

For Bradley Pierce, who voices Chip, there are lessons younger audiences can learn from the animated film.

“Even though Gaston seems perfect, and the Beast seems absolutely horrible on the outside, look at who they are on the inside,” he said. CHEAP. “They are against that. Gaston is a deeply hurt person, and so is the Beast in his own life, but Beast has the ability to love outside of himself, and Gaston is not. “

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast, O’Hara, White, Pierce, Robby Benson (The Beast) and JoAnne Worley (The Wardrobe) open up about what the acclaimed film means to them and why it exists.

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Courtesy of Everett Collection

When you think about Beauty and the Beast now, 30 years later, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

O’Hara: [I think about] it was an amazing trip and how it changed my life. I’m a stage person, not a movie person, but the fact that it’s still so well known and so popular, it just blows my mind when I think about it, when I’m doing Comic-Con or whatever. when I meet people at a conference or I do a concert. We now have four generations of fans. At first, it was usually just kids and their mothers, now kids, their kids, their grandchildren, their grandparents. It is just overwhelming. I’m really humbled by that.

Benson: I’ve been involved in a lot of great projects, Beauty and the Beast is very much like one of those projects, you just think of [the people you worked with as] your family. Jeffrey Katzenberg is a genius. [Producer] Don Hahn is a genius. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, our directors, are true geniuses. [Animator] Glen Keane, if you look at his artwork, you will be confused. For me, being around these artists and animators. Work with [composer] Alan Menken, it’s just silly how amazing these people are. Linda Woolverton, our writer, I don’t know if she gets the credit she deserves. [Lyricist] Howard Ashman should always get the credit he deserves. These people are remarkable to work with. You can work for a lifetime, and I can say that there are some projects that you love very much, and Beauty and the Beast is among those few.

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White: maybe [I think about] my fellow participants, Robby and Paige, Don Hahn and the people we worked with, and anything else. There’s been enough publicity and so on and so forth that we’ve, over the years, spent time together and got to know each other and it’s been exciting.

Drill: The first thing that comes to mind is how beautifully the film was made, how well that team came together and made such an animated masterpiece. It’s a transition between classic Disney and modern Disney, and it’s great to be a part of that.

Worley: It is a gift that keeps on giving.

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Belle and the Beast
Courtesy of Everett Collection

What did the movie mean to you then and what does it mean to you now?

White: Well, it’s very interesting. We’ve all been raised on Disney animated movies and thinking you’re going to be in a part of a movie is thrilling and need to know that since Disney has turned the page and is creating a new one. something a little different, starting with Little Mermaid, and with Alan and Howard. You have a feeling that you are part of something very important, very special, and that is going to last, and that has certainly taken shape over the years.

Drill: Initially, Chip was just a very small part. It was just a line, but it kept growing and getting bigger and bigger, and I realized that I would be able to be a part, even if it was a very small part, of a Disney story, and the Disney movies are different because they can live forever. They are always classic. They’re incredibly timeless, and when they’re young, being connected to something that’s going to be in children’s homes for generations to come is really, really amazing to think about how it will affect not only to my life but also the lives of so many others. It’s really cool, something that I almost didn’t understand as a kid, like I knew a little bit about how great it would be, but it didn’t make any sense to me until now, when I see someone dressed up as Belle for Halloween or wearing a dress and carrying a cup of Chip tea, and she’s 6 or 7 years old, and like the movie I was in as a kid is still a part of my life. their life and that’s really cool.

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Chip and Mrs. Potts
Courtesy of Everett Collection

At that time, did you have any idea that Beauty and the Beast Will it be as iconic and classic as it has become?

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O’Hara: We do not know. I had no idea. We just knew it was a really great movie and didn’t really think about the test of time, but I know and we all know it’s really special because it’s one of those cases. The project has everyone on the same page between writer, director, producer, actor, artist. In this particular case, that’s really Howard Ashman’s vision, this movie. And he knew – we didn’t know this at the time – but he knew this was his last movie. He knew he was going to die. Therefore, he wants everything to be as perfect as possible. And when he explained what he wanted to everyone, not just me as an actress, but artists and directors, they all saw the same movie that he saw. So it’s one of those cases where you follow Howard Ashman’s magic and just go with the ride. He is an emotional person and a colorful genius in many ways, not only as a lyricist but also as a visionary. So then I knew that this was going to be really special.

Drill: Not really. I knew it was going to be important, because it was Disney, but I didn’t know it would be one of the top five classics of all time. There is no way to know that it will be nominated for an Academy Award. All Disney movies are great. There are some that are amazing and stand the test of time in a way that not all of them do, and I don’t think there’s any way, especially for me as a child, to know that. this will be one of those movies.

White: You know this is something that will last a long time and Disney treats these things with great respect and honors, so you know it will continue to be respected and honored that way. . So you know it, but I don’t think we really know how iconic and successful it will be. We’ve had interactions with each other, with each other that don’t always happen in that situation, so that also helps make it unique.

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Beast and Belle
Courtesy of Everett Collection

From that, what do you think made this movie so popular?

O’Hara: It is relevant even now. It will be relevant 30 years from now, 50 years from now because there is always a story about beauty that comes from within, and that will stand the test of time. The story of Beauty and the Beast is something that will be relevant forever, and I think it comes at the right time. A little note, says Don Hahn, our producer, [that when people] ask him what is his genius? He said, “My genius is to hire all the right people to do the work that they can do and put the right people together.” In this case, he really put the right people together.

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Drill: I think what creates Beauty and the Beast, along with a number of other Disney films, just stand the test of time and everyone can associate at least one of the characters. Everyone understands the story in a very personal way and that makes the story important and resonant to more people. It’s not just a movie for kids. It’s not just a romantic comedy. It’s not just any one thing, it’s a lot. It’s the same story, but everyone sees a different story in it, and I think that’s what makes it exist or what makes it grow.

Worley: It is just good. It’s really, really good… It’s fantasy, obviously, you know, the furniture used to be human, but it’s a good story and it’s very well done and very animated, beautifully drawn.

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Belle and Gaston
Courtesy of Everett Collection

What do you think Beauty and the Beast’What is the legacy of s?

Benson: I love that Belle is really the hero of the movie for me. The fact that she reads, that she’s a woman, she’s a strong young woman, I like that. I love that there are genuine laughs in the movie. I love the fact that you can sit with this beautiful story as it is from time to time, but it can also make you smile and sometimes even laugh. I think that’s very special.

White: As Don Hahn pointed out when we talked about this movie, this is an old story. So they intend to respect that and respect those themes and respect them as best they can, and I think they’ve done that very well. It has a sincere point of view, a sincere homage to its central themes and ethos, but it’s hilarious, funny, and clever, and you’ll be truly delighted when a girl Young takes command of a situation in front of a big, muscular, self-proclaimed hero.

As we went around and did some of these public things, the number of people, little girls, lined up to talk to [Paige] and their mother, by the way, also lined up just to say that Belle’s role, but it was Paige as Belle, allowed them to gain wisdom, to read, to put reading above everything else, and that that’s okay. You can make choices that aren’t necessarily popular but that you believe. There were doctors and lawyers who came to her and said, “You’re the first to let me do that.”

Interviews are edited for length and clarity.

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