Are you looking forward to seeing the live action Beauty And The Beast movie? We have an exclusive interview from Garderobe and Plumette’s viewpoint. Post sponsored by Disney. All opinions are my own.
All Photos Credited: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com
Our exclusive interview with Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw started with on the humorous side with Audra McDonald commenting on our lunch (waiting outside of the conference room). Audra McDonald stars as Garderobe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Plumette.
I only recall Audra McDonald on Private Practice, one of my favorite shows since it was a spin-off from Grey’s Anatomy.
Question: Can you share why you wanted to be a part of this film?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Well, for me I was obsessed with the original Disney film. It came out when I was eight years old, I had the cassette tape, made my mom play in the car on the way to ballet and tap and modern, every day. I knew all the words to all the songs and it is still my favorite Disney movie so I had a very personal connection to it. When my agent called and said they wanted me to play a part in this I squealed down the phone, so loudly.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I think it was probably the biggest reaction to getting a job that I’ve ever had. I think that little eight-year-old inside of me was just so excited and it sort of connects you back to growing up with Disney movies. And then this cast is just phenomenal.
Audra McDonald: When I got the call, I’d known that the movie was being made and I was excited about it and my agent called said, ‘so, Beauty and the Beast,’ he’s like, ‘yeah, they’re turning into [a movie], isn’t that great?’ He said ‘yeah, so they want you to be in it.’ My response was, ‘excuse me? That doesn’t make sense. I was like, ‘wh–, what? Why? I mean–.’ But, if Disney calls, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean?
So of course, it’s just Disney, you want to be a part of it, so yes, it’s just an automatic yes.
Question: I heard you auditioned for Beauty and the Beast on Broadway but weren’t cast. So, when you were cast now were you like–?
Audra McDonald: On the night before we started filming in London, we all went out to dinner and they had a dinner for the cast and everybody. And I said to Alan (after a glass of wine, feeling jet lagged) ‘so, Alan. I auditioned for the musical on Broadway for the ensemble and I didn’t get cast in the ensemble.’ And he goes, ‘I know, I know, I know. Is this okay?’ I was like, ‘yes.’ Thank you, this fixes it, thank you.
Question: Every time that you sang it lit up the scene. I have a daughter who’s coming into singing so I would like to know what you did as a child, what was your path?
Audra McDonald: Well, this is mommy bloggers right? So, it was a lot of it had to do with my parents and my mom. I was a really hyperactive child having, struggling and my parents were struggling with trying to figure out how to help me. And I was an overdramatic child and having a hard time in school and whatnot. And they went to the local dinner theater one night and saw a little junior troupe that performed before the main musical and it was a group of kids.
Audra McDonald: I loved to sing at home and all that stuff and I had all this extra energy and drama inside of me. And they said, ‘maybe this is gonna help her.’ And so, I auditioned for that when I was nine years old and that set me on my path and so I really, have my parents to thank for looking for something that would be right for me to express who I was and find a way to channel that energy. And so that’s what started me on my path.
Question: Can we talk about diversity in the film and what your characters are bringing to the twenty-first century and your roles as multicultural cast.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, I guess we’re all just bringing ourselves and thrilled that Bill Condon, the director, had the vision to make it such a diverse cast. It wasn’t really something we discussed, which is kind of cool in this day and age, it just sort of is. I’m sort of thrilled about it.
Audra McDonald: Yeah, we got told that yesterday, we were doing press yesterday, someone was like, ‘so you guys are, you’re the first and second interracial kisses in a Disney film,’ or something like that, or close to one of the first.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: In live action.
Audra McDonald: In live. And, Gugu and I are like, ‘we are?’ ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ We didn’t even think about.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah.
Audra McDonald: You know? Hopefully we’ll get to a day where no one has to think about it. You know, that’s what we’re aiming for so I mean I’m just, I’m pleased that Disney recognizes that you know, you’ve got to represent the entire world out there. And that’s what they’re doing. So, yeah.
Question: How is it different preparing for your role for the animated parts versus the regular parts?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Well, for me it was just so liberating. I mean, I’ve never been offered a role like this before obviously, I had to come from doing some quite intense dramatic roles and the idea of playing a feather duster, I sort of thought was so whimsical and fun. But, it’s a lot of vocal work in the recording studio and finding the, not just the singing but finding the voice of the character, working on the French accent with the dialect coach and also just really going back to that childhood thing of like, ‘let’s pretend.’ You know, it’s, you’re not limited by your face and your body.
Audra McDonald: You know, you have so much more freedom I think. And, as I say, it’s just play, really, you know, when you get to you know, this huge team who are creating these CGI characters. I just found it incredibly liberating.
Audra McDonald: Yeah and you also, Bill Condon, such an incredible leader, and an amazing director. And you feel very safe with him, so when you’re doing, especially the vocal work for the characters, it’s just you, the recording engineers and Bill. You know, and so Bill’s in there with you and he’s saying, ‘okay, now try one like this.’ So, he’s in there playing, you know, with you in a way. And it’s truly just make believe and so it’s, you know, for the wardrobe it was like, ‘okay, she’s kind of trying to get to the staircase at this point so, grunt a little bit.’
‘grunt like this, okay now she’s just, snore this way, snore this way, snore and sing a high note.’ So we had the time and the freedom to just sort of explore and then they take that, they go and work with the CGI folks and then they bring back something. And then you can then put on top of that, so it’s a real collaborative effort. It takes a village, it takes a massive village for this one.
Question: What was it like to actually see everything come together?
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: It was breathtaking. I saw it for the first time at the Hollywood premier and to see it with an audience and people are applauding after musical numbers. You know, at a screen you know, and it was just you know, brought back all those memories of those songs. There’s a couple of new songs in this version of the movie a song, Days in the Sun and also the Beast has his own solo. So, yeah, it was, it was a really–.
Audra McDonald: It was overwhelming, yeah.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, overwhelming.
Audra McDonald: I saw it at the London premiere and I was so shocked at how moved I was. And I really felt that I was watching it as an innocent sort of general audience member. Not someone who had been a part of the film. And I hate watching myself on film or on screen at all and this I sort of felt completely removed from it. I didn’t really see myself up there, I was just in the world and I was weeping at the end and I was like, ‘I was there, I was in the scene. Why am I crying so much?’ You know, but it was just you get swept up, you get absolutely swept up. You know?
Beauty And The Beast opens in theaters everywhere on March 17th!
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