The recently released teaser for Disney’s live-action remake of the Beauty and the Beast made a record after being watched 91.8 million times for the first 24 hours. What some do not know is that the screenplay for the beloved fairytale was notoriously reworked because Linda Woolverton wanted a strong character.
Woolverton penned the original 1991 Beauty and the Beast film. Original storyboards depicted Belle as a damsel decorating cakes, but the screenwriter was yearning for more. In 1992, she told the LA Times that she was inspired by Jo from The Little Women. The famous literary character is strong and isn’t contented with her place in the world.
“I wasn’t on a soapbox, but Belle is a feminist. I’m not critical of Snow White, Cinderella… they reflected the values of their time. But it just wasn’t in me to write a throwback. I wanted a woman of the ’90s, someone who wanted to do something other than wait for her prince to come.”
Twenty-five years later, Woolverton still wants Belle to be an adventurous character. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, she also talked about the popular allegations that Belle has a Stockholm syndrome or the psychological phenomenon where a victim feels a certain level of affection toward his or her captor.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Stockholm syndrome, that [Belle] fell in love with her captor. But I disagree! She was captured, but she transformed him. She didn’t become, you know, an object. She didn’t turn into a beast! She transformed him. So it was certainly the transformative power of love and what it can do.”
Like her sentiments more than two decades ago, Woolverton said that it would be difficult for her to accept that a “smart, attractive young girl” would be contented to just sit around and wait for Prince Charming.
The screenwriter also acknowledges the film’s lyricist, Howard Ashman, for supporting her vision for Belle. Ashman sadly passed away in 1991 before the original film’s release, but Woolverton said that the playwright similarly wanted Belle to represent something greater.
“Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale, but she has an independent, open mind. She loves to read and to explore the outdoors. But even so, every day was a battle of making it happen. Every single line of her dialogue was a battle. My daughter was born the same year that Beauty and the Beastcame out, so I’m always aware how long ago it was. And in some ways it’s taken until now for people to realize that Belle was something of a first.”
Paige O’ Hara, the original voice of Belle, is excited for her successor. She told Buzzfeed that Emma Watson truly encompasses Belle’s “old soul” as well as her love for books and her compassion for others. She praised the Harry Potter star for being beautiful inside out.
“She was so strong, so independent, and in this day and age she would be for women’s rights — she wasn’t looking for a prince, she fell in love with a man.”
As for the scene O’ Hara can’t wait to watch in the live-action remake, it’s the part where Belle realizes she’s starting to fall in love with Beast. It’s the snow scene where “Something There” is played.
The latest Beauty and the Beast remake is set to hit theaters in March 2017. Through its teaser, fans are able to have a glimpse of Watson, who has been on hiatus. Last year, the British actress announced her casting, and little else had been revealed since.
Aside from Beauty and the Beast, Woolverton is also working on Maleficent 2, which she claims will delve deeper into the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora.
[Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images]