Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Emma Watson who really, really, really loved Disney’s 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast. “I can’t even think how many times I watched it as a child,” says the former Harry Potter star. “I knew all the words by heart. I knew all the songs by heart.”
Watson was hardly the only person to become obsessed with this songs-filled tale of a self-possessed young woman named Belle and a prince-turned-beast who must find his true love before the final petal falls from an enchanted rose. Beauty and the Beast was the third-highest-grossing film of 1991 and the first animated feature ever nominated for a best picture Oscar. While the film lost out in that category to the slightly less romantic Silence of the Lambs, it did win Academy Awards for best score and best song. Beauty and the Beast also inspired a stage musical, which ran on Broadway for 13 years.
Now, Watson has put her love for — and knowledge of — the film to uniquely productive use. She is playing Belle in a new live-action remake of Beauty and Beast, which will be released March 17 and costars Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as the Beast, Luke Evans (The Hobbit) as Belle’s egomaniacal suitor Gaston, and Josh Gad (Frozen) as Gaston’s sidekick, Le Fou. For this week’s cover story, EW visited the film’s U.K. set and spoke with all of the above, as well as director Bill Condon and costume designer Jacqueline Durran, who talked about creating the new version of the iconic yellow dress Belle wears in the original film’s ballroom scene. In addition, we chatted with Ewan McGregor, who voices the enchanted, “Be Our Guest”-performing candelabra Lumière, and Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the clock Cogsworth and was apparently desperate to get his own big production number. “I kept singing what I thought would be a rather good addition to the score,” says the X-Men franchise star. “‘My name is Cogsworth!/ And I’m a clock!/Ticktock!’ But I didn’t get my own song.”
Readers can also find out about the film’s new songs — penned by Alan Menken and Tim Rice — and feast their eyes on an array of exclusive photos featuring all of the aforementioned characters as well as Belle’s father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), Mrs Potts. (Emma Thompson), and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).
Can’t get enough of aristocrats? Then you should definitely check out this issue’s profile of Matt Smith. The British actor made his name as the star of Doctor Who but has now abandoned the TARDIS for Buckingham Palace to play the Duke of Edinburgh in Netflix’s new show, The Crown. We also have fashion designer royalty in the shape of Tom Ford, who talks about his second film as director, the Amy Adams-starring Nocturnal Animals.
Finally: Can we get a drum roll, please? Last weekend, a host of pop culture kings and queens, princes and princesses descended on The Reef in Los Angeles for the first ever EW PopFest. In this week’s issue, readers will find extensive coverage of the event, which included big stars like Jennifer Aniston, Eddie Redmayne, Anna Faris, Nick Jonas, Bad Santa 2 lead Billy Bob Thornton, Supernatural actors Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles, and the reunited cast of Happy Endings – who performed a specially-written catch-up episode.
Did the characters form the much-missed sitcom get to live happily ever after? You’ll have to pick up this week’s issue to find out!
For read more on Beauty and the Beast, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday – and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.