Beauty and the Beast impressed moviegoers back in 1991 with its catchy songs, captivating story and impressive animation. Over two decades later, Disney is aiming to replicate that magic and then some with its live action remake next year. Among the actors who are participating in this retelling is Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who will play the lead protagonist, Belle. We've barely seen anything of what her take on the character will be like, but Broadway star Paige O'Hara, the actress who voiced Belle in the original animated movie, thinks Watson is perfect for the role.

O'Hara sat down with USA Today to talk about Beauty and the Beast for its 25th anniversary Blu-ray release, and when asked what she thought of Emma Watson playing Belle in the live action remake, she had nothing but kind words. As she put it:

I think that if I were producing that movie, Emma Watson would've been my first choice for Belle. I was just really happy they went with Emma. She's got the intelligence, she's got the humor. I think she's going to be really, really special.

It should be noted that Paige O'Hara nor her animated movie costars at the interview Robby Benson and Richard White, who voiced the Beast and Gaston, respectively, have met the actors playing the live action versions of their characters. However, they're definitely comfortable with "passing the torch" to these other performers, and all three complimented how the teaser trailer looked. O'Hara stayed involved with Beauty and the Beast long after the first movie was released, voicing Belle in various projects until 2011. Obviously Belle is important to her, so it's good to hear that she has high hopes for Emma Watson's performance. I was briefly worried she held a deep hatred for all Hogwarts alumni.

Beauty and the Beast Belle

Just like its animated predecessor, the new Beauty and the Beast will follow Belle, a young girl who is taken prisoner by the Beast in his castle. Despite her initial horror at his monstrous appearance, she eventually gets to know him and the other enchanted denizens. As Belle and the Beast fall in love, they'll have to contend with Gaston, a hunter from Belle's town who is eager to slay Beast and take Belle for himself. Along with Emma Watson, the remake's cast includes Dan Stevens at The Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Josh Gad as LeFou and Stanley Tucci as Cadenza.

You can see Emma Watson as the new Belle when the live action Beauty and the Beast movie hits theaters on March 17, 2017. Stay tuned to Cinema Blend for all the relevant updates surrounding the movie, including when we'll finally get our first full look at Emma Watson's Belle (that teaser didn't cut it).

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