Interview with Dane DeHaan
Young an upcoming actor Dane DeHaan has shown throughout his career that he is always up for a challenge. He’s taken on tough, demanding and often dark roles in films such as Lawless, Kill Your Darlings and Devil’s Knot. He played Spider-Man’s nemesis The Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and even took on a pretty much experimental role in Metallica Through The Never.
That vast acting array was the perfect background for DeHaan as he approached yet another challenging role – the role of a young executive named Lockhart investigating the hidden agenda behind a strange ‘wellness’ retreat in the new thriller A Cure For Wellness.
“A Cure For Wellness is about this guy named Lockhart. He’s an up-and-comer on Wall Street who gets sent to this health spa to look for his CEO who hasn’t come back. It’s a simple task go and get the guy and bring him back before the company goes under, but he gets stuck there like everybody else. At this spa nobody seems to ever leave and a lot of crazy stuff seems to happen. As an audience you pretty much follow my character on a journey as he tries to put together the pieces of this puzzle. He’s got to get this guy back to his office but it’s really this old, ancient problem that becomes pretty horrifying. I think it is the opportunity to watch a movie that is compelling but also terrifying. It’ll be fun to watch but it will also leave an impression on you… there are just certain scenes that will really shock you. It’s almost a dare… I dare you to watch it.”
One of key stories in A Cure For Wellness is Lockhart meeting the mysterious Hannah played by Mia Goth. “Lockhart first meets Hannah at the castle… the spa,” explains DeHaan. “At first he doesn’t understand what he is seeing… it is almost like a vision. And she is playing this song that seems really familiar to Lockhart and then he finally finds her and she is feeding ham sandwiches to something in the water and I think he is not only bewildered by her but mystified by her because she is this strange creature. She’s also a lot younger than everybody else at the spa which really confuses him because she just didn’t seem to fit into the puzzle at all.”
For many film buffs A Cure For Wellness is the first time they will have had a chance to see the acting work of young actress Mia Goth and DeHaan says that she is perfectly cast to play Hannah. “In a lot of ways Mia is not unlike Hannah,” he says. “Mia has a lot of intrigue but also a sense of innocence around her as well. Mia is also this really committed actor and while it isn’t her first movie it is very early on in her career so she is really hungry and really committed and is all about things being as real as possible and her intentions are all in the right place… she’s really pure. Yeah it has been really fun getting the chance to work with her. Then there’s Jason (Isaacs) who is the opposite of Mia. He’s the old pro. He’s all about things being as real as possible and exploring moments. Jason is all about hitting his mark and saying his line – he has his thing and he is amazing at that thing. He has this theory where he doesn’t like memorising in lines before he gets to set he likes to memorise them when he gets there and he feels like that gives him a more organic experience. He’s a lot different to Mia and that is one of the things that I did in the movie I got to work with a lot of different kinds of actors every day.”
The film also gave DeHaan the opportunity to work with one of Hollywood’s most interesting and diverse directors, Gore Verbinski, and DeHaan says it was something that he relished. “I really liked working with Gore,” DeHaan says. “I think that somebody have a photographic memory but I believe that Gore has a cinematic memory. He shows up and he knows exactly what he is doing, he knows what shots he is doing and where he is going to use those shots in the movie. He also has this amazing way that really feeds your performance and it gives you a sense of the genre and just the energy with which it is going to be shown and also portrayed to the audience. And he is so on top of every aspect of the film – the props, the acting – it’s like he has the entire movie in his mind and he knows exactly what he wants and then it becomes my job to bring what he wants to life.”
DeHaan says one of the most challenging part of the film was when he had to film the tough scenes with Lockhart in the isolation tank. “They were really intense scenes,” he says. “It was also an intense experience because there were some takes where we would just do a series of it and I would just be under water for like 25-30 minutes. It wouldn’t have been that bad if I could have had goggles on so I could see but I couldn’t see anything. The lighting is pretty dark and moody and there is a camera coming at my face which really was just like this dark, blurry thing coming at my face and then I’m in a leg cast and have wires that are literally holding me in the tank horizontally. So even to get out, if it were possible, would be pretty much impossible so throughout that whole process I just had to keep playing mind games with myself.”
A Cure For Wellness can be pre-ordered on DVD and Blu-Ray right now.
Written by Dave Griffiths
When a band describes their sound as a ‘twisted brothel’ you just know that they are going to have a lot of people curious about the sound that they conjure up. The thing is it is probably a pretty accurate description of the sound that French black metal outfit Doctor Livingstone have managed to create on their brand new album – Triumphus Haeretici.
Anything hard – hardcore, black metal and death metal and Doctor Livingstone have melded into their latest album to deliver an album that critics are labelling one of the greatest ‘black metal album of 2017’ something that a quick discussion with two of the bands members Rel and Reverend Prick reveals is a bit of a surprise for the band themselves.
The band are really pioneers of the French black metal scene and Rel explains there has been a couple of decades of hard work for these guys and it is finally paying off. “Doctor Livingstone started in 1996 or 1997,” he recalls. “In the beginning we were more punk rock or hardcore music but things got darker and in 2014 when Six and Reverend Prick joined the band, they were from the black metal scene, and then things got mixed up automatically and that is why our music sounds the way it does today. We didn’t do it intentionally, it just happened… accidentally really. Because of the influences of Reverend Prick and Six, there was never a moment where we said to ourselves ‘hey let’s do this style of music. It just happened like that – I had the hardcore background and they had their background and that is why it sounds like this today. When I was younger I listened to everything – hardcore, punk, thrash metal, black metal, electronic music and even pop music. I started playing music when I was 11 and I fell in love with Guns ‘N’ Roses.
When I ask about the French metal and hardcore scene and briefly mention German and Scandinavia Rel laughs, “You listen to German and Scandinavian music? I pity you… nah I’m just kidding.”
Reverend Prick intercedes with, “French black metal is the best black metal in the world!” before Rel goes on to explain that he doesn’t actually listen to a lot of French black metal. “I did ten years ago but today I don’t so I can’t tell you a lot of what is going on aside from the fact that there is a lot mixing going on, there a lot more bands that now mix-up hardcore and black metal, but not in the same way that we do. That doesn’t mean we are better or anything or even the original but yeah there is a lot of mixing-up going on.”
Reverend Prick again interrupts with, “France has the best black metal scene in the world because Doctor Livingstone is part of it!!!”
Rel says despite what the critics are saying they really didn’t do anything different when they were putting this album together. “We did what we always do,” he says. “I wrote the songs before we went into the studio and then I showed them to my bandmates. Then we start working on things, transforming things by changing the pace or tempos or rhythms. Then there a lot of things we do in the studio, in the moment, like adding the percussions and adding the atmosphere. Then with the lyrics we just add the vocal lines as we are recording – nothing is done beforehand. I write everything but then the other guys are like – let’s change this or change that and it’s when we all start working together that things start getting interesting. That is probably the one thing we did do differently this time because with all the previous albums I just did everything myself and that wasn’t really interesting but this time but this time there was teamwork and that is why I think the album sounds the way it does today.”
He goes onto say that the album was very much inspired by some very modern topics. “We take a look at human condition, we like to talk about ourselves but not in an egocentric way, but we like to talk about the theatre of life and the comedy without giving out any lessons. We just like to talk about how we see things and we like to do it with irony.”
As we start talking about the band touring in Europe during November Reverend Prick again chimes in saying. “We want to come to Australia please tell us if there is a tour manager that would like us… if you are a tour manager and you are reading this please contact us.”
“For now we have a few shows in France coming up,” says Rel getting things back on track but laughing at the same time. “Next year we are aiming to do a European tour… we’re not too sure yet. One of things we love about touring is partying, forget about playing on tour we prefer all the things outside of that – the sleeping, the eating, the partying, the drugs.”
“AUDIENCES SHOULD BE SCARED BECAUSE WE SPREAD THE WORD OF THE LORD OF THE UNDERGROUND,” bellows Reverend Prick.
“No… no, that is just a bad joke,” laughs Rel. “I hope…anyway.”
So if you are a tour manager willing to take on Doctor Livingstone don’t forget to contact the band but for their fans in Australia right now they will just have to sit back and enjoy Triumphus Haeretici which is out now.
Written by Dave Griffiths
These days six years seems like an eternity between albums, but as Parker Chandler, vocalist and bass player for Richmond, Virginia’s doom metal merchants Cough explains, when you are inside that bubble and staying active it’s not just time away on hiatus like the rest of the world sometimes sees it.
“I started playing in Windhand as well during that time,” he said of the break between Ritual Abuse in 2010 and Still They Pray last year. “Our guitar player had a kid too so there was different life events that came between but we still practiced pretty consistently. We did two years of touring pretty solidly for Ritual Abuse, then we did the split album with Windhand. In the time between Ritual Abuse and Still They Pray we also did two tours of Europe and also fit Australia in there so we stayed pretty busy during that time. We didn’t exactly do nothing (laughs).”
Since breaking into the scene with their debut E.P The Kingdom in 2006, Cough have painstakingly built their reputation amongst the elite of the doom genre, with Electric Wizard, Candlemass and Cathedral all playing large parts in the evolution of Cough’s music.
Mixing a blend of hefty doom and bloody rock, Cough’s music is a psychedelic mix of black metal, sludge and blues that feels as though you are being crushed from within by an unseen force that throws your soul into a concrete blender and spits it out through a raging furnace.
This pain and torment was used to great effect on their third album, Still They Pray, with Chandler admitting the music and lyrics are highly personal to the band.
“Yeah, it’s pretty autobiographical,” he said.”It’s all taken from real life events. We hide them more with metaphors on some tracks and less on others.”
One positive aspect of taking such a long time between albums is the extra time it gives you to work on your music, and Chandler says this played an important part in the finished product.
“I think we had more time to fine tune the songs,” he added. “Some of the ideas had been kicking around since probably 2012 so we had time to play around with them in that time. I think they went through a lot of changes over that extended period of time. We would leave them and go back to them so it was all over the place but it also gave us time to get them right which was important to us.”
Doom metal is not regarded as one of the more popular genres, but it is certainly a sub genre that has a loyal following. When pressed as to why Cough have had such success within a specialized genre, he laughs and says that it is probably more to do with their attitude and free spirit.
“I think we are just easy going guys,” he smiled. “We’re definitely not competitive. We don’t really think in terms of that. For the most part what we do is not a way to get by or anything like that. We played a handful of festivals this year, just with friends and stuff like that. You meet new people and they become your friends but it’s not like its cut throat in the doom market. You just have to have fun with what you do.”
Cough’s brand of doom metal is also a little left of centre, with the aforementioned subtle, yet effective blending of black metal, sludge and blues, with Chandler saying that the roots of blues are prevelant in most music today.
“If you think about it in regards to the blues it is the real origin of metal if you go back far enough,” he said. “Over the years it developed slightly more of a chaos edge to it and it has grown from there. Over the years we have messed around with a lot of different sorts of sounds, colder sounds with progression and stuff like that.”
This month, Cough will be bringing label mates and long time collaborators Windhand with them to Australia for a handful of shows, with Chandler speaking highly of their touring partners.
“I’m in both bands so I have to say that (laughs). We’ve been friends… we met up with Windhand shortly after we started, before I was even in the band in 2009 so we’ve always gotten along pretty well. It’s exciting to be travelling with a band like that who we have a good history with.”
This won’t be Cough’s first time in our country either, with previous trips affirming their Australian fans interest.
“I dunno,” Chandler laughed when asked why they go well in a country where doom isn’t in the more popular end of the music market. “I feel like it’s… its pretty good down there for what it is. I mean, you don’t get a lot of acts down there to begin with, especially in a genre as small as ours. I feel like maybe you have a more dedicated fan base or maybe just a live music fan base in general. We definitely appreciate the support we get.”
Written by Kris Peters
For one band this year the march to performing at CherryRock017 will be a well-worn journey. Since forming in 2014 Melbourne’s very own Child have brought their unique mix of blues and hard rock to the festival twice… yes that’s right these CherryRock veterans are about to go into the trenches for the third time.
As has become the custom for bands that are selected to perform at the unique festival Matthias from Child says the band were told they were on the bill by Cherry Bar owner and CherryRock organiser James Young. “Yeah our good friend James Young let us know,” says Matthias with a laugh. “And we are really excited because we are looking forward to getting back up on the stage at the end of AC/DC Lane because it is always a good view from up there. This normally all starts with James asking you to play at Cherry or James coming up to you somewhere. Our first meeting with James was at a show with My Left Boot in 2013, that show raised his awareness of us and we’ve known him quite well ever since. There is always a certain buzz at Cherry and obviously there are a lot of venues, and you can have good ones and bad ones, but at Cherry it always seems to provide that vibe and of course CherryRock is just a massive, massive version of that. It’s such a tight community that get around to it – the underground rock ‘n’ roll scene and it is just amplified when you have 800 people there as opposed to some 200-300 people. For rock bands you can’t really go past it, basically it’s the home you can’t deny it.”
Matthias also doesn’t have to think very hard when I ask him what some of his highlights have been at CherryRock over the years. “Definitely playing with Red Fang is right up there,” he says. “That was quite a moment and we didn’t play at CherryRock last year but we were on tour with Kadavar who headlined CherryRock last year and just being there to witness them play after being there with the shows throughout the tour you could really see a massive lift in their performance as well, just because of the vibe so that was pretty memorable as well. It is a day where many beers are consumed and maybe a few memories are hazy but there is never anything that you walk away from where you are thinking ‘oh that wasn’t right’ or ‘that wasn’t fun’, it’s always for a lot of people in Melbourne as good as Christmas. For this year’s festival I’m really excited to see Nashville Pussy, mainly because Bonnie the bass-player spent a fair bit of time on our tour bus over in Europe last time we were there and we’ve never had the chance to see her play before. I’ve also only ever seen a few songs of Shihad when they opened for Sabbath so I want to see them do a full set as well. It’s hard to pick just a couple of bands that you want to see because CherryRock is a whole experience – you get there when it starts, you map out your day between the two stages and then it is just a massive ingestion of music.”
So many people have talked about Child’s unique blend of blues and hard rock over the years but Matthias says it was not something that they set out to ‘create’. “Obviously everybody is a mirror of your influences, really,” he explains. “This was the band that was started so then there was a platform for actual honesty not just ‘oh yeah that sounds great we’re going to be like this’ or ‘we’re going to sound like this and try to get to this place.’ There was never anything like that it was really just a reflection of how our gut sounds, there is no hindrance on the music for any ulterior motives apart from art itself. It’s hard to explain why we sound the way we do or anything apart from we’re clearly a fan of the blues and being a fan of heavy music but it is what it is and it all comes from honesty at the end of the day. I picked up the guitar pretty late actually, it would have been about Year Eleven I think and the lead up to that was quite a lot of metal and that’s what you do at that age, I was listening to Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Overkill and so on and I was also a huge fan of Nirvana as well when I was younger so that was the natural progression. But then I started to realise that there was more to music than just playing past and I started to get into some of the more unusual bands. Then when I started to mature I discovered the blues and I was captured straight away… I was like ‘yep that’s me, every time I listen to a band this is what I’ve been searching for.’ The one hundred per cent it was Red House by Jimi Hendrix. And then there was Voodoo Child the thirteen minute live version with Steve Winwood and Jack Cassidy. The day I discovered Hendrix that was the most profound moment of my life.”
CherryRock017 will be held at the Cherry Bar in Melbourne on the 7th May. Bands that have been announced so far include Shihad, Dwarves, Nashville Pussy, Bala, Bottlecap, Totally Unicorn, Child, Mooner, Amyl & The Sniffers, Zombitches, Stiff Richards, Kelompok Penerbang Rocket… and there are still more to be announced.
Child also have their album Blueside out now as well.
Written by David Griffiths
Amyl And The Sniffers
With the announcements coming out about CherryRock017 we already know that this year’s festival will feature international acts such as Shihad and Nashville Pussy but often the announcements about the local bands get pushed to the side… but not here at Heavy!!!
One of the local bands fronting up to CherryRock017 will be St Kilda four-piece rock outfit Amyl And The Sniffers who have made a name for themselves over the past eighteen months with the release of two well-received EPS, Giddy Up and Big Attraction, while they have had successful shows playing at festivals such as Chopped and Sounds Of The Suburbs as well as opening for the legendary Cherie Currie at her Cherry Bar gig in Melbourne.
Heavy caught up with Amy from the band who simply couldn’t hide her excitement at Amyl And The Sniffers being selected to play at this year’s CherryRock and she says there was no second thoughts about it. “We just simply got a text message from James Young [the owner of Cherry Bar, the Godfather of live music in Melbourne and the man who gets to personally hand select every band that plays at CherryRock] and he asked if we wanted to do it and we were just like ‘yep lock it in… LET’S DO THIS!’” she says laughing out loud. “Pretty straight forward but we are very excited. Me and James have been good friends since the band first started. One of first gigs was at Yah Yah’s, which he also owns and he must have come along and watched us some time. I met him once, I saw him there and he was dressed in a cowboy suit and I was like ‘wow love the suit’ and we pretty much just became mates from there. He’s a nice bloke.”
When we delve into the history of the band Amy said the band simply just started because the band lived together. “We just came from uni and work together one night and we just set up to record. We wrote and recorded some music and the next day we were a band. Everything was all pretty make shift but we’ve had a fun time. We were really inspired by 1970s Australian pub rock and stuff like that – a bit of the Melbourne garage sound going around at the moment as well a bit of punk, a bit sexy but a lot of good times. Living with my bandmates is pretty good – I don’t really have any complaints from the band side of things but I do wish they would put the dishes away. I do love them all to bits though.”
So does living together make it a lot easy to record and to jam? “Yes and no really,” says Amy. “We have a new bass guitarist now, our original bassist left, but back then all our rehearsal and recording stuff was set up in his bedroom so we could just all jump in there and practice but in another way we were in his personal space… his bed was right there. I’d literally be sitting on his bed while we were recording. So it was easy to book things and chat about things though. Recently though we’ve been going to Bakehouse Studios… we’ve done that twice now… and it is actually so much better. There’s a proper PA there and it’s huge and nice. I prefer a studio definitely.”
Amy admits that the new Big Attraction EP does see the band try to change their sound up a little bit as well. “We’ve been playing these songs pretty much since we started being a band,” she explains. “We thought it was time to put them out there so the wider audience could give them a bit of a listen, but this time we’re trying to sound less garage and rockier. Declan wrote a lot of the songs this time, so it’s more hookey with some sharpie shit. We sounded really garage because it was cheap, which I guess we still are cheap, but it was done in four hours, and we wrote it on the spot it was made the shift. So now we want it to sound heavy, tough and mean but less like it took four hours.”
For many Melbourians there first introduction to Amyl And The Sniffers was at the Cherie Currie gig, and Amy says the night was a night of mixed nerves for herself. “It was very exciting because she is a huge inspiration for me… I think she is an absolute legend,” says Amy. “It was probably one of our only shows where I have been properly nervous before, but it was a good night. I was backstage afterwards, and I went to put on some Motorhead on the juke-box, and she told me to turn it down. I didn’t get to talk to her much, but it sure was an honour getting to play with her. I try not to think about it [the nerves] much, and I just tried to think it doesn’t matter what she thinks because she is just another person. With the nerves, though I just try to channel into energy and then turn it into fun… try not to let inhibitions get the best of you!”
Amy says there are a few bands on the CherryRock bill that she is looking forward to checking out as well. “I’ve heard that Nashville Pussy are supposed to be pretty good,” she says. “But I also want to see – Stiff Richards are cool I’ve seen them before at Cherry, and they blew me away.”
CherryRock017 will be held at the Cherry Bar in Melbourne on the 7th May. Bands that have been announced so far include Shihad, Dwarves, Nashville Pussy, Bala, Bottlecap, Totally Unicorn, Child, Mooner, Amyl & The Sniffers, Zombitches, Stiff Richards, Kelompok Penerbang Rocket and there are still more to be announced.
Written by Dave Griffiths
INTERVIEW WITH GARY OLDMAN & ASA BUTTERFIELD
This year is shaping up as a brilliant year for people that love space-orientated films. Of course we have the big blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 heading into cinemas very soon but this has so far been a year when there have been plenty of films out there for those that like their space movies to be a little more serious.
We’ve already seen Life – a film which saw Jake Gyllenhall and Ryan Reynolds battling a space creature on the International Space Station in a film that was a seriously good suspense thriller and of course there was Passengers – a film which tested the audience’s moral stance as Chris Pratt decided to ‘wake’ Jennifer Laurence despite the fact it would ruin her life. Another film that crept into Australian cinemas with very little fanfare was director Peter Chelsom’s (Serendipity, Hector And The Search For Happiness) new film – A Space Between Us, a film that sees a human born on Mars travelling to Earth for the first time.
The star of the film is Asa Butterfield, an actor who is not a stranger to science fiction after his wonderful portrayal in Ender’s Game. As an actor Butterfield has also shown that he can handle seriously dramatic roles – something that he proved with brilliant performances in the Holocaust drama The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Hugo. In The Space Between Us Butterfield has to mix his sci-fi knowledge with his dramatic acting experience and he does it wonderfully well.
In fact it was because the role was so challenging that he accepted the opportunity to play it in the first place. “Firstly I think Gardiner is an interesting character,” says Butterfield. “Whenever I read I script I always look out for originality and characters which will challenge me and will give me the option to do something completely different and this was exactly that, because he is so unexperienced in the real world and I thought it would be interesting to try and convey that kind of feeling. Gardiner has lived his whole life on this space station on Mars. Ever since he was born really so he has had a pretty limited experience of the outside world. Pretty much all he knows is what happens on Mars and the few snippets of information that he gathers through different things to find out about Earth, which is something that he loves and craves. His whole life revolves around this idea of one day getting to Earth.”
With such a dramatic move from Mars to Earth Butterfield says some of the challenges facing Gardiner are things you normally wouldn’t think of. “The first thing to affect him is the change in gravity,” he explains. “That causes difficulties for him with walking and running… just about doing anything really. But he eventually gets to used to that but then his whole experience with social interaction is so limited that he has no idea what to do in certain situations. He doesn’t know how to read social cues and doesn’t understand sarcasm, there are a lot of different things that actually come across as pretty funny in the film and they were really fun to play with. There is also a sense of belonging which I think we can all connect with as well – belonging somewhere and feeling like you are worth something. Gardiner doesn’t really feel that at the start of the film because nobody knows that he exists. In his own words – ‘how can he be indispensable if nobody knows that he is alive? And so his whole motive of finding somewhere where he belongs and feels safe is something that I think everybody needs and that everyone strives for.”
Butterfield says one of the other things he loved about working on The Space Between Us was that he got to work with Hollywood star-on-the-rise Britt Robertson and screen legend Gary Oldman. “Britt has been so much fun to work with,” he says. “I mean this whole story revolves around Gardiner and Tulsa’s relationship so Britt and I had a lot of fun. The way their relationship evolves throughout the film is kind of interesting because they balance each other out. Tulsa is this maniac kind of energy and Gardiner is much calmer. Gary was brilliant to work with – he is a really nice guy and he is a phenomenal actor as well so getting to work with him for a few weeks was a lot of fun. I think I’ve learnt a lot as well, I mean he is cool and he is really, really funny and he makes the whole mood on set feel really, really light and not too serious.”
Oldman, like Butterfield, says that what made him want to work on the film was the script. “Firstly it was a very good script,” he says thinking hard. “It was unusual and it had this great charm to it. It’s a family movie and I thought it was a great character and a great script and it was a chance for me to finally get to work with Peter Chesolm whom I have known for over twenty-five years.”
He says the challenge of playing such an intriguing character, like Nathaniel, also drew him to the film. “This man that has such as a single obsession and passion,” he says with passion himself. “He has this drive which I guess you could say is kind of loosely based on this kind of Richard Branson like businessman/scientist/entrepreneur. He fulfils this passion and this ambition only to then be thwarted and then presented with an even greater challenge which is the young boy – Gardiner. When we first see Nathaniel we wanted to see the youthfulness, the drive and the energy of someone that can run Genesis – that can literally come up with these ideas and then make the material up. So he wanted to see that drive and that passion and that enthusiasm. And then we have that bit where I step back from the company and years later you see that not only being outside, not only taking a backseat but also becoming more and more reclusive but he also has the strain of keeping that secret of Gardiner. It’s taken its toll on me and it is only when they start discussing about bringing him back that it reignites the fight in Nathaniel. When you see those interviews with Richard Branson you really do think that everything is possible… you can see it in their DNA – they are driven and they are unstoppable.”
If you missed The Space Between Us in the cinemas don’t worry you can pre-order it on DVD/Blu-Ray right now.
Written by David Griffiths
Interview with EMMA WATSON
Bringing a much loved animated film to life is no easy process. People are always going to be critical on whether or not the movie looks or feels the same way that the original did. That kind of criticism and speculation was always going to be ten-fold for Disney with Beauty And The Beast. The 1991 Disney animated version of the classic tale has become a much loved family film for nearly two generations now. When Disney announced that director Bill Condon would be bringing the story life in a real life fantasy film the big question seemed to be not whether or not it would work but who would play the character of Belle… after all she is one of Disney’s most important Princesses.
When that answered was delivered in a statement declaring that Emma Watson would play the lead role it actually seemed to quell some of the online banter. After all Watson herself is loved by families right around the world thanks to endearing role of Hermoine Grainger in the Harry Potter series of films. Still for Watson this was an epic role to take on… and that was something that certainly wasn’t lost on her.
“Beauty & The Beast when you think about it is really like four movies in one,” explain Watson. “It’s an action movie, we’re making a live action film, there’s a huge amount of stunts – there’s wolf fighting and horse-riding and you know guns and sword fights and all of that going on. It’s also a comedy – the comic timing of characters like Cogsworth and Lumiere and Mrs. Potts, it’s just hysterical in my opinion. Then on the other hand it is a romance, it’s a romantic drama… and then it’s a musical… and then there’s music just really added onto the top with dance and theatre really. So you need somebody at the helm of a movie like this that can really do all of those things and it takes someone quite special I think to get that all working really well and I think Bill has done a really good job with that.”
Of course having the characters from the animation, especially Belle, being just carbon copies in teh new film would have made the film quite boring for audiences so what differences did Watson see in her character from the animation to this film. “We wanted to make sure that we… we know that she loves reading, we know that she loves travel… but we also wanted to give her this element of being quite industrious and quite practical and very inventive,” she says proudly. “So in the animation Maurice is the inventor but in this film it is actually Belle that is really forging forward and innovating and coming up with new ways of doing things which I thought was interesting and was an idea that I loved. Belle also does some teaching in this film, not only does she love reading for herself but she actually loves sharing her love for books and she loves sharing the things that she finds special and interesting. And I loved that too… that she wants to share. And she also has a new song… it’s only a small, baby song. It’s a reprise so it’s only really a verse and a little bit of a chorus but it’s very beautiful and we expand a little bit on her past and we see really what is the story of Belle’s life before she goes to the castle and meets Beast which I think is a really lovely extra detail which we didn’t get from the original.”
Aside from a brief moment in Harry Potter Emma Watson isn’t known for her dancing and singing so was that something new that she had to approach to do Beauty And The Beast? “So I started rehearing the film in January and we started filming in March-April kind of times. I had a few months learning things, especially the waltz which for me I realised… I said this to Anthony when we were filming… that dance is the story of them falling in love and so it had to have so much communicated through it, not just as a dance but how two people interact and how that perception of each other changes and it is all wrapped up in this two or three minute moment and we wanted to communicate so much so I realised that I couldn’t just be a dancer and just know the dance steps perfectly, actually what was going to make the dance special was if I did what I’m good at… hopefully… acting. That was what was really going to bring it to life and tell the story. So it was a really special experience for me. I love to dance, I have always loved to dance, so getting to learn this specially choreographed dance between Beast and Belle was definitely a highlight. I think I was so focussed on doing what I had to do to support him (her co-star Dan Stevens) during that dance it really helped me because I couldn’t focus on how nervous I was. Both of us were just trying to work out the logistics of how do you do a three minute… you know… strictly come-dancingesque waltz routine with a Beast. I mean he is three heads taller than me.
“It was really challenging and I think we were so focussed on the challenge at hand it really did help carry us through. It was a very bonding experience. I actually think that I’m going to suggest that on all of my movies my romantic co-star has to learn to do a dance with me because there is just no better way to bond with someone.”
Of course you can’t talk about Belle and Beauty And The Beast without mentioning her dress. From the animated movie we have seen countless women over the years try to replicate Belle’s look and her famous yellow dress so what do audiences have in store for them with this rendition of the movie.
“In the end what we decided was the most important thing for this dress to do was that it had to dance beautifully,” says Watson. “We wanted the dress to feel like it could float. Like it could fly. Like it was the third, like almost the third person in that dance. And we started with a much heavier and more intricate, probable more historically accurate dress but we realised that it wasn’t telling the story that we wanted it to tell so we went with something much lighter made of chiffon and it does… it’s just perfect for that moment. We were really pleased with it in the end.”
Written by Dave Griffiths