It appears Disney has found its Beauty. Emma Watson has officially been cast in the role of Belle in Bill Condon's upcoming live-action "interpretation" of Beauty and the Beast.
Following her run as Hermione Granger in all eight Harry Potter films, Emma Watson hasn't exactly been stockpiling major movie roles, choosing instead to split her time between acting, modeling, furthering her education and serving as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. We can hardly fault her for aspiring to extend herself and her talent beyond the screen. Still, it's exciting to hear that she's taking on starring role in what Disney is referring to as an "interpretation" of Beauty and the Beast. That description does leave plenty of room for, well, interpretation. We know that it's live-action, and that The Fifth Estate director Bill Condon is on board to helm. Beyond that, details about the project are slim. But it finally has its star, which is a huge step forward.
Disney has already told their own version of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's classic fairytale before, with the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, an animated musical that was later adapted for the Broadway stage. The story centers on the beautiful daughter of a merchant, who ends up essentially being forced to stay in the castle of an enchanted Beast, who eventually falls in love with her.
Emma Watson actually has an interesting history with both Disney princesses and Beauty and the Beast. Back in 2012, it was looking like Emma Watson would star in Guillermo del Toro's Beauty and the Beast for Warner Bros. There wasn't a lot of movement on that, however, and then February of 2013, we heard that Watson was in talks to star in Disney's Cinderella, but she opted not to take the part, and Lily James was eventually cast in the role.
It was at that point that we actually speculated whether or not Watson might end up playing Belle in Disney's planned Beauty and the Beast film. Because let's face it, Watson is beautiful, talented and age-appropriate for the role. Two years have passed since then, but it looks like she'll finally be adding Disney Princess to her list of credits. Since playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson's screen credits include The Bling Ring, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and more recently, Darren Aronofsky's Noah.
Disney's announcement about Watson's casting is pretty limited in terms of details, though it confirms that it's live-action and that Bill Condon, whose credits include the final two films of The Twilight Saga (Breaking Dawn Parts 1&2), will direct, and that production is expected to start later this year. It should be very interesting to hear more about what Condon has planned for this adaptation of the classic story. And with Watson on board, it'll also be interesting to hear about the other casting developments that transpire, including who will play the titular Beast.