And we are off to an amazing Beauty And The Beast interview week, first was Emma and Dan then Luke and Josh, now it is Audra and Gugu’s turn. Yes, I am talking about the amazing ladies that play Garderobe and Plumette in the film. Let me just say that these ladies not only gave life to these iconic characters but themselves as well as the characters they play are a true inspiration. For all of us, Beauty And The Beast’s love story is magical but as if can remember from the animated film, there are other love stories as well. Stories such as Featherduster and Lumiere, those were magical as well. Today I am super excited to share our sit down conversation with Audra McDonald (“Garderobe”) & Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Plumette”).
Beauty And The Beast:
Exclusive Interview with
Audra McDonald (“Garderobe”) & Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Plumette”)
Both these character were such pleasure to see on the big screen. So, we had to know how different it is preparing for their role for the animated parts versus the regular parts?
Well, for me it was just so liberating. 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, also, it’s a lot of vocal work in the recording studio 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 let’s pretend.’ You’re not limited by your face and your body.
You know you have so much more freedom I think. And, it’s ‘s just playing really, when you get to you know, this huge team who are creating these CGI characters. I just found it incredibly liberating.
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. So Bill’s in there with you and he’s saying, ‘okay, now try one like this.’ So, he’s in there playing with you in a way. And it’s truly just make believe and 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 and sing a high note.’ I mean so we just 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 the CGI folks bring back something. And then you can put on top of that, so it’s a real collaborative effort. It takes a village, it takes a massive village for this one.
After having screened Beauty and The Beast, we had to know how these ladies felt after having everything come together?
It was breathtaking. I saw it for the first time just two nights ago at the Hollywood premier and to see it with an audience and people are applauding after musical numbers. It was just you know, brought back all those memories of those songs.
It was overwhelming! I saw it at the, at the London premier 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 in, 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.
One thing about this version of Beauty and The Beast is that its cast is so diverse. As a Latina, we had to talk about diversity in the film and what these characters are bringing to the twenty-first-century audience.
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.
Yeah, we got told that yesterday, we were doing press yesterday. ‘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. In live-action. And, Gugu and I are like, ‘we are?’ ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ We didn’t even think about. Hopefully, we’ll get to a day where no one has to think about it. That’s what we’re aiming for, so, 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.
Related Post: Exclusive interview with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.
We all take different takeaways from the films we see based on our experience. What are these ladies hoping audiences take away from seeing this film?
I hope that people will get swept up in the romance and the music is just so iconic. I love the message that beauty is found within, it’s an oldie but a goodie. But, I think, really for this film, the idea to look a little deeper, see the human within each and every person even if the exterior is something that intimidates you or you’re not familiar with. There’s always a human underneath it all. And I think to try to connect to somebody’s soul, is really important.
Also that love, there’s always the love conquers all, love wins and it’s not about just giving the love but loving yourself too. I think that’s what’s so important. And realizing that what you have inside of you is most important and not the outside doesn’t necessarily matter. And I’m sure that’s what people are gonna take away from this.
As I mentioned before the love stories in Beauty And The Beast are so magical and this version is no different than the animated film. Plumette’s and Garderobe’s stories had us literally going uhh and aww. Which got us wondering if Gugu ever did any of her tapings together with Ewan McGregor (Lumiere).
No, unfortunately not, although we did first meet in a dance rehearsal. Dan was saying the same thing about learning to waltz with Emma. It’s a great way to sort of get to know your co-star. We were learning the ballroom dance for the end scene and that was kind of really fun. When you’re both learning something together and stumbling and Ewan is such a generous actor and got such a great sense of humor. So it was great working with him.
There are many wonderful scenes in this version. So, we had to know which were their favorite scene or what made them you connect with that movie in such a way that they could step back and say, ‘oh it’s beautiful’ and that feeling of ‘oh I was there’ could be taken away and truly enjoy the movie.
Yeah, I think it was just the way that the entire film came together. To the point where I couldn’t see the seams, you know? And I knew where the seams were but I couldn’t see them. And in doing that I wasn’t able to sort of like critique this and critique that and listen to, I was just swept up in everything, like I fell into Brigadoon along with everybody else.
And I think it’s the power of the score as well, it transports you. I think it just, there’s just something about that music that is so romantic and hits you on an emotional level that you can’t not be swept up in it.
Finally, we had to know more about those amazing costumes.
Jacqueline, she’s done all of Joe Wright’s movies, Atonement, Anna Karenina. She is an incredible costume designer. On my first costume fitting, she said, ‘okay, would you like to meet your object?’ [LAUGHS] In the room, they had the feather duster on a stand and I was kind of taken aback because Plumette is quite different to the feather duster Fifi, who’s more sort of mopped like, in the original.
And I was pleasantly surprised to see that they made her into this sort of flying dove peacock like, very dainty creation. So, in the costume fitting, we played around with the bird theme. I had a big tail feather on one of my costumes, a huge bustle which also worked with the period. And feathers, I had feathers in my hair, we played around with this sort of Marilyn Monroe style wig so it was kind of fun for me to blonde which is just so outrageous.
For the also, we both got to be blonde. [LAUGHS] But with the wardrobe, the first time I sat in the chair and I the dress being so large that I couldn’t walk in any regular door to get to set, I had to walk sideways. And scrunch because once they started putting the wig on, they put the first part and I was like, ‘wow, that’s big, that’s tall’ and she said, ‘hold on.’ ‘Okay,’ then ‘the top part,’ ‘okay,’ then birds and stuff started going, I was like ‘oh my goodness what is going on?’ But, it makes perfect sense because once she’s transformed it to the wardrobe, the top of the wardrobe if you notice is her wig. And you couldn’t even see them but this is the detail that Disney pays attention too. The shoes that I wore were the feet of the wardrobe, so if you’d actually seen my shoes, they curled up into the exact sort of way that the legs of the wardrobe and all of that. I mean and even within the design of our make up and all of it is echoed in our objects.
Because, the wig was literally two feet off of my head and so heavy and the dress was so big. So, not only could I not sit down but I could not hold my head up for long periods of time. So, the set carpenters built me a leaning slab. So in between takes, it was a humungous, about three feet taller than that thing of wood, slab of wood that had a bicycle seat. So I could kind of just perch on that and lean back like that during, between takes, because it was also enormous.
Thanks to Audra and Gugu for sharing your amazing Beauty and The Beast stories with us. Be sure to come back for more Beauty And The Beast insider goodies and the beast part, our movie review coming up this Friday.
Related Post: Exclusive Interview with Luke Evans and Josh Gad.
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.
“Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
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Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, California to attend the #BeOurGuestEvent. No additional compensation was received.