Bill Condon, director of 'Beauty and the Beast', talked about Emma in a recent interview:
What does Emma bring to Belle that no other actress could?
You know what it is? Belle was the most modern of Disney heroines, and it's who [Emma] is. It's the contemporary nature of her Belle, I think. She takes that thing that was so fresh 25 years ago and brings it into our time. It's informed somewhat by her own work in real life, but also just the sense of being such a smart and fearless woman and the difficulty that that can create for somebody in fitting in.
She's talked about tweaking Belle's backstory to make her an inventor, too. How involved was Emma in crafting this take on the character?
I wouldn't say that so much about the backstory as just she and her father both share this quality, but we very much worked through the scenes with her and with every actor. It wasn't [just] Emma. We spent weeks around a table, going through the scenes, because every word matters in something like this. With all the actors digging deeper and deeper, that would lead to certain changes in the script.
Speaking of that scene, when Cinderella came out, there was controversy over the waistline on Lily James' dress. Was that factored in when designing Belle's yellow gown?
It wasn't factored in, because it's such a different approach here. Obviously, in that story, that's a gown made by the fairy godmother and it has a magical quality to it. This is a gown that the household staff has pulled together -- and there's one little magic thing that happens at the end of it. But in the spirit of Belle and Beauty and the Beast, it was all about something that felt beautiful, but comfortable. There was no question of adapting Emma Watson's body to a dress. It was the other way around. It was something that belonged to her, that was in the story made for her. Our costume designer Jacqueline Durran was very true to the period, so that slightly more ruffled look of the animated film really wasn't accurate for the period we were setting the movie in. Instead, it's a riff on that.
What was it like the first time Emma tried on the dress?
Oh, man! I mean, it was exciting to see and then we went through many, many, many versions of it. So it wasn't like, 'Oh there it is! And it's done and she's putting it on!' But it was still thrilling just to see her. That and seeing her in the blue in the village, it just felt like, Oh my god. It was thrilling, I think, is the only word.