The Beauty and the Beast filming has started, as reported by cast member Sir Ian McKellen, who will be playing Cogsworth. In a detailed post on Twitter, the veteran British actor shares details about the first read-through.
Disney is still adding to the cast of the live-action adaptation of the classic story, previously seen in an animation version. McKellen described the sometimes awkward first cast meeting and read-through of the script as a “nerve-wracking occasion.” The 75-year-old goes on to talk about how his co-stars are walking a fine line between trying to impress each other and meeting director Bill Condon’s view for the film.
McKellan gave a very interesting behind-the-scenes account of what was happening while his Beauty and the Beast co-stars spoke the words out loud for the first time. Condon apparently smiled “benignly throughout,” while Disney producers, lighting, cameras, sound technicians, costumes, and make-up artists were also present for the first meeting. Sir Ian goes on to talk about working with some familiar names.
“Today Beauty and her Beast (Emma Watson and Dan Stevens) read with their supporting cast and a happy reunion it was for me. Next to Mr. Holmes’ ‘Lady in Grey’ (Hattie Morhan), along with Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and Kevin Kline, who I haven’t seen since we received our Tony Award together in 1981.
The cast were seated round four long trestle tables placed in a square. In the middle on their own little stage there was a large clock and a feather duster and a candelabra, who all remained static throughout the morning. Elsewhere, everything, and everyone was alive and even kicking, high-kicking too. Bill Condon had decided to put on a show and I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.”
Ian McKellen also shared that the Beauty and the Beast filming began in London, and he was nearly late arriving at Sheperton Studios, after having to deal with the awful morning rush-hour. Up until now, it was unclear whether this would be a musical, like the animated version, but McKellen cleared that up on Wednesday.
“(There was) a mike for every actor so we could be heard above the music from the electronic keyboard and percussion and the glorious voices of a 30-strong choir. They were impressive enough, until the studio lights dimmed and the chorus sprang up and danced their merry way through the classic songs by Alan Menken, who was sitting next to Tim Rice, who has contributed some new ones. It’s the first time I’ve heard applause at a read-through, let alone a standing ovation at the end.”
Additionally to news that the rehearsals had gone on — before McKellen’s first day with the rest of the Beauty and the Beast cast — we hear about Audra McDonald and Emma Thompson singing. However, there was one moment that made the legendary actor “weepy.”
“My favorite moment… was when Beast’s loving arm was placed tentatively on Belle’s shoulder after their pas de deux.”
McKellen was humming “Be Our Guest” — where he gets to sing a couple of lines — all the way home and is ready to start his own rehearsals to join in the Beauty and the Beast filming.
[Image via Disney]