There is perfect casting and then there's this -- Emma Watson, best known as Hermione Granger from the "Harry Potter" films (and who has essayed tremendous roles in both "Noah" and "The Bling Ring" in the years since) will star as Belle in Disney's live action musical version of their groundbreaking "Beauty and the Beast."
What's interesting about this is that Watson was all set to play the same character in a Warner Bros production entitled "Beauty," which was overseen by Guillermo del Toro. When del Toro left the project last June, Warner Bros started to waffle and Disney came courting the young star for their version of the story. (According to The Wrap, they did so with del Toro's blessing.) This is going to be a big musical version of the story, very much in keeping with Disney's animated feature, the first-ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
This new production is being directed by Bill Condon, who wrote the Academy Award-winning big screen adaptation of "Chicago" and who wrote and directed "Dreamgirls" (it was Condon who pitched the live action version as a straight adaptation of the musical), with a script by "Perks of Being a Wallflower" writer Stephen Chbosky (Watson starred in Chosky's filmed version of his best-selling novel). This movie is going to be huge; not only was the movie a commercial smash (almost $400 million worldwide in early-'90s dollars) and critical darling (it screened, in an incomplete form, at the New York Film Festival to a standing ovation) but it also inspired a musical that ran on Broadway for more than 5,000 performances (and has been staged in 115 additional cities).
Watson is also really excited, taking to Facebook to proclaim, " "I'm finally able to tell you ... that I will be playing Belle in Disney's new live-action 'Beauty and the Beast'! It was such a big part of my growing up, it almost feels surreal that I'll get to dance to 'Be Our Guest' and sing 'Something There'. My six-year-old self is on the ceiling - heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons. I can't wait for you to see it. Emma xx."
We can't wait to see it either, Emma!