This coming March, Walt Disney will once again be calling on moviegoers to be their guests as the live-action remake of their 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” graces theaters worldwide. This has been one adaptation that Disney fans all over have been utterly hyped to see, at a greater degree than 2015’s “Cinderella”. Eagerly awaited also is the performance of lead actress Emma Watson, formerly Hermione Granger of Warner Brothers’ “Harry Potter” film series and now playing Belle. Interesting about this casting is that Watson was originally approached to star in “Cinderella” instead, but turned it down.

It was a stroke of good fortune indeed when Disney returned to her with this new role, and it’s been a perfect fit thus far.

What could have been?

Now 26 years old, Watson relates the story of the time she was almost another Disney Princess instead of Belle. Back in 2013 she was offered the title role of the live-action “Cinderella” slated for 2015. Despite the fact that it was being directed by fellow British film star Kenneth Branagh, Watson ultimately decided the glass slipper as it were was a poor fit for her, and it fell to Lily James of “Downton Abbey” fame. Then in 2015 there came a new offer, and in Watson’s own words, “I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella…But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did.”

What made being Belle more appealing?

It’s the simple fact that as a Disney princess of the revolutionary 90’s, Belle’s blend of compassion, curiosity and her open mind make her more a modern girl’s role model than Cinderella according to Watson. She also adds, “There’s this kind of outsider quality that Belle had and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her.

In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring.”

Belle updated more

So that’s how Emma Watson sees the heroine of “Beauty and the Beast” and how she can carry her own against the larger than life and intimidatingly “scary” presence of the Beast (portrayed by Dan Stevens). But even that baseline characterization could also use a few figurative levels in badass.

Watson says that in the original Disney animation, Belle was the daughter of an inventor, but here in the new take she herself is the gadget-maker, apparently building a mechanical washing machine to give herself more time to read. That sure sounds like an exciting development and one that can’t wait to be seen when “Beauty and the Beast” premieres on March 17, in the wake of a new musical film wave caused by "La La Land".

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