For fans of the musical movie genre, Bill Condon is a familiar name with his work on Chicago and Dreamgirls. However, in recent years, he has gained attention through his work on Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and 2 and on Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
Screen Rant sat down with Condon on press day, where we discussed what were the most difficult parts of bringing Beauty and the Beast to life, what are the keys to modernizing these Disney classics, and whether or not he would visit the horror and sci-fi genres in future work.
Congratulations on the film. Thank you so much for bringing my childhood to life. I was nine years old when this one came out.
Bill Condon: Aw. Really?
You have no idea. I am a Disney fan, but I almost like, I teared up a few times.
Bill Condon: Good. You’re allowed to.
I am allowed to. It’s Disney! You know what I mean. I have a question. So, what was one of the most difficult parts about bringing this live-adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to life?
Bill Condon: You know what I think there are a lot of them, but figuring out the Beast was a big one, the look of the Beast. Because this was, I think, a kind of unprecedented thing for a character that, ultimately, was going to be a CGI creation to same degree that he was at the emotional center of the movie. He is the romantic hero of the movie. He sings a big song at the end. So, you know, and again there is also you. All of the former nine years olds that have a certain image of what the Beast was in the animated film. But I have to say as I study it, they do get to cheat a little bit because, you know, he can be 8 ½ feet tall in one scene when he’s got to be scary. And now we’ve got a real one, so there are the limitations of reality. Even though it’s CG, we built the Beast. We had him, Dan could put on the mask and everything just so we could see what it felt like, you know, what his scale was like. But I think making sure that you were going to feel as much as you can for the Beast, that was what kept me up at night.
Awesome. Disney is in the midst of a revolution here with the live-action remakes. What are some of the keys to modernizing those and bringing them to the big screen?
Bill Condon: Well, I think it’s interesting. I can’t speak for the others. Jungle Book was just such a marvel. It was incredible. I think it’s along the same lines, although this is obviously more human, it’s that thing as soon as you, it’s not just modernizing, as soon as you translate it into a live-action medium then it’s real people. So, the behavior has to be real. And also for this movie there was a real challenge in tone. You had to have a movie where you could have something as sweet and poetic as Kevin Kline as Maurice and something as broad as Josh Gad as Lefou and make sure that they were all appearing in the same movie.
Any hidden Easter Eggs that you can possibly tell me about?
Bill Condon: Ha ha. You know, for musical fans there are a ton of musical references in “Be Our Guest”. In the original animated film, they did the Busby Berkeley thing. But I tell you there are easily a dozen. You know, once the Blu-ray comes out, hopefully I think there are people who are really informed, but a lot of musical references throughout that number.
Interesting. You know, I was looking over your filmography and I noticed that you started off in sci-fi.
Bill Condon: Horror and sci-fi.
It’s horror and sci-fi. What would it take to get you back to those genres?
Bill Condon: Oh, I love it. You know, that’s what interesting. That’s part of the reason I did the Breaking Dawn movies because there is a sequence in there where she gives birth to a vampire. And it felt to me like Rosemary’s Baby. It felt to me like a real horror movie. I was excited to work in that area again. I have to say here, this is a monster movie. You know what I mean? Practically my favorite movie of all time is Bride of Frankenstein.
Bill Condon: So, those two movies made by James Whale. And I did think when she first meets him in the castle and also when the mob storms at the end, that felt like to me that you were dealing with classic horror movie stuff.