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He's next to impossible to recognize in Beauty and the Beast, but Dan Stevens plays The Beast in Disney's live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated classic. While Stevens does get some screen time in human form, he mostly appears as the wolf-bear-buffalo monster we've all come to love. Rather than just provide a voice, Stevens did all the motion capture for the role himself, a process that's a lot harder than it sounds. Throughout his scenes as Beast, Stevens wasn't just wearing dots and a gray tracksuit, but also a 40 lb. suit -- on stilts, no less!
Dan Stevens isn't the first actor to give his all in a motion capture performance, but he may have had one of the most physically taxing roles. Stevens laid out the process for portraying the Beast on set to People and revealed that in order to provide the Beast's massive frame, a muscle suit needed to be constructed. On top of that, Stevens also had to learn how to walk on stilts, too. He said:
Ultimately we went for a fusion of technologies. [It was] traditional motion capture and puppeteering of a big muscle suit on stilts. I was inside this 40--lb. thing covered in gray lycra and marker dots.
In case you're wondering, yes, Stevens did have to do the famous waltz scene on stilts. One wrong move and Emma Watson's foot would be under steel, so Stevens had to become a master with his equipment. The former Downton Abbey actor would first have to perform his scenes while wearing the 40 lb. body suit on stilts and then again for the visual effects team to capture his face. As Stevens explains, every couple of weeks he would have to go into a special booth, which he called the Tron cage, and would be sprayed in the face with 10,000 UV dots. Then whatever it was that he had been doing the last few weeks on set -- be it sleeping, talking or roaring -- he would have to do again in the Tron cage. Not exactly your average performance is it?
Beauty and The Beast is directed by Bill Condon and stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the central romance. Based on the classic Disney animated movie, the film follows Belle, an intelligent girl tired of her provincial life in a small French village. When her father is held prisoner by a ferocious Beast, Belle takes his place and becomes the key to unlocking the curse placed on the Beast and his servants.
So. if you're seeing Beauty and the Beast this weekend, take a moment to appreciate what Dan Stevens went through. Andy Serkis' back probably wasn't feeling too good after a day as Gollum, but at least he wasn't moving around in a 40 lb. muscle suit.