As the release of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast draws ever closer, we have been granted a good look at the movie with the release of various trailers and stills. So far, there’s been two snippets of Emma Watson singing as Belle, but that’s the only bit of singing we’ve been given to date. Of course, Disney know how desperate fans are to hear new versions of the now-famous Beauty and the Beast animated movie’s songs, such as the film’s eponymous theme and the toe-tapping “Be Our Guest” being performed by the live-action version’s all-star cast.
For related reasons, the Mouse House is deliberately holding back the goods; though hopefully, when we do get our first listen, it’ll be worth the wait. Throughout the making of the live-action Beauty and the Beast, there has been a strong sense of this new film wanting to honor its predecessor; with each additional trailer replicating its original animated counterpart, and the animated version’s classic ballroom scene being recreated almost exactly, right down to the costumes.
In an interview with IGN, Ewan McGregor, who voices Lumiere, spoke about recording “Be Our Guest” for the live-action film. The origin version of the song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, only losing out to “Beauty and the Beast”. McGregor’s determination to nail the performance is clear; in fact, the actor wasn’t happy with his first take and asked to record the number again:
“It’s very nerve-wracking recording, because you’re in a quiet room and through the glass there’s people who are looking at you, and they speak to each other and you can’t hear them. In this instance there were 50 people in there, and I was standing jet lagged alone trying to sing in a French accent this big number. Every time I stopped they would go, ‘OK, hang on,’ [and talk among themselves]. I became terribly scared they were going, ‘What the f–k are we going to do with him?’ We did it, it was fine, and then I asked Bill, I said, ‘Look, when we’re working on the dialogue next time, can I have another shot at it?’ So we went just privately, me and him and a few people in New York, and we recorded it a second time.”
Despite being married to a French woman and hearing his wife and children speak the language at home, McGregor admits he found Lumiere’s accent difficult to get right, and again, he asked for a do-over:
“I rather arrogantly thought I’d just be able to do this French accent without very much work, and when I tried to do it, I didn’t do it very well. Also Disney wanted the full French sound, they didn’t want the ‘r’ sound, so when you put an ‘r’ in a French accent it turns Spanish or Mexican, so that was an issue. I came back to it afterwards and rerecorded the whole thing again with Bill Condon in a studio, so we had two shots of it and we improved it.”
A lover of musicals, it’s understandable that McGregor would want to get such an iconic role in a classic movie just right; while fans are eager to watch Beauty and the Beast, the comparisons to the original animated version are inevitable, making moviegoers even more critical than usual. Thus far, it looks as though Beauty and the Beast will seek to honor the original while still bringing something new to the screen. This is undoubtedly a good path to try and take, but will it be considered a success? We’ll find out soon!