Dan Stevens Explains 'Huge Challenge' of Playing the Beast

Dan Stevens as Beast in Beauty and the Beast

This year has started out big for actor Dan Stevens. He’s starring in the successful TV show Legion and is starring in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast as the titular Beast.

Screen Rant sat down with Stevens on press day, where we discussed what it was like playing the Beast, the challenges he faced portraying the character from the technical side, and what we may see next in FX’s Legion.

Dan, I am a huge fan of this movie. Congratulations on the big year. Legion is awesome as well.

Dan Stevens: Oh, thanks man.

First of all, were you a fan of Beauty and the Beast growing up and did you ever in a million years think you’d be playing the Beast?

Dan Stevens: Yes and no is the short answers to those questions. Yeah. I mean, it was not really an idea that existed as a kid, you know, that I could do this in this way, play the Beast in this way. I mean, obviously, there had been a Beast in the kind of prosthetic form in like Cocteau’s version in the ‘30s. But using the technology that is now available to make this kind of film is just mind blowing.

It’s stunning.

Dan Stevens: Yeah. So, that idea didn’t exist as a kid. So, no I didn’t really dream that this could happen because it couldn’t, you know…

Dan Stevens as Beast in Beauty and the Beast

At the time. Yeah.

Dan Stevens: But yeah, I love this movie. I love this fairytale. It’s a book that is really much loved in my household. And the animated feature is great. This version is made with a huge amount of passion and respect for that version. Also, for Cocteau, but also for the fairytale as a whole.

What were some of the challenges and what was the process like of playing the Beast from a technical aspect?

Dan Stevens: Yeah. It was a huge challenge really. You know, very physical undertaking getting myself in the right sort of condition to puppeteer a 40 pound muscle suit on stilts. And then to do the facial capture separately. So, every couple of weeks I’d go into a booth and they’d spray my face with UV paint. I would call it my Tron booth. I would go in and these UV lights and 27 little cameras would capture the facial performance of everything we had done in the previous two weeks. So, whether that was eating, or sleeping, or roaring, or waltzing, I would just do it all again with my face. And they would map that in, you know, they’d morph it into the Beast and map it onto the body that I puppeteered on the set and that, eventually, emerged as the Beast. But it was, you know, a very new way of doing this kind of thing. But it was, it was a way that we believed and, ultimately, preserves the facial sensitivity of a sort of romantic lead performance which is incredible. And it means that the potential for where this kind of technology can now go is epic.

You know I want to talk to you about Legion real quick if I can.

Dan Stevens: Sure.

Dan Stevens as David Haller in Legion

I know that it’s part of the X-Men franchise and X-Men property. Do you think we’ll see any of the X-Men characters proper in Legion?

Dan Stevens: I can’t answer that question.

I wish you could. The yellow-eyed demon? Is that Shadow King?

Dan Stevens: You might. You might.

The Yellow-eyed demon. Is that Shadow King?

Dan Stevens: Yellow-eyed demon?

Is that Shadow King?

Dan Stevens: I can’t tell you these things. I don’t want to spoil it. How many episodes are you in?

I am current.

Dan Stevens: Yeah. Keep watching. [laughs] It’s pretty exciting. I like how people are asking these kinds of questions because, you know, obviously Legion is from that universe and there are definitely links, but I don’t want to spoil anything too much.

Key Release Dates
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017) release date: Mar 17, 2017
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