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While Disney’s 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast is largely faithful to the animated classic, it does have some key differences. One particularly notable change (and one that proved controversial) was that Josh Gad’s LeFou became Disney’s first gay character. This fact was hinted throughout and seemingly confirmed at the end of the film when he dances with a man. It turns out that this controversial ending for LeFou was actually Josh Gad’s idea, as he explained:
Here's what we decided, we decided that LeFou's happy ending would be to dance with another man… It was my pitch, that's how I really wanted the movie to end. I was so amazed they let us do it.
‘And they lived happily ever after.’ It’s the standard ending to all classic fairy tales and Beauty and the Beast is a quintessential fairy tale. At the end of the film we see Emma Watson’s Belle and Dan Stevens’ Beast together and the curse broken and all the residents of the castle returned to their human forms. That was their happy ending, but Josh Gad’s LeFou also needed his own happy ending.
LeFou redeemed himself at the end of Beauty and the Beast but with his friend and quasi-crush Gaston dead, Josh Gad wanted to show what happily ever after looked like for his character. As Josh Gad told Radio Andy (via THR), he pitched the idea himself to have LeFou get to dance with another man, that that would be his happy ending.
To Josh Gad’s surprise, his idea was well received and Disney actually let him and director Bill Condon include this little nod to LeFou’s sexuality, thereby offering some small acknowledgement and validation of the fact that happiness looks different to different people.
The fact that LeFou would be gay in the live-action remake was something that was out there before Beauty and the Beast actually arrived in theaters, and as you might expect or remember, this choice proved controversial. Addressing how LeFou’s ending, which he came up with, became so controversial, Josh Gad said:
That became such a controversial thing, apparently, even though it was only three seconds of screen time. We never put a spotlight on it. We never meant to put a spotlight on it. It became a conflated, weird controversy.
In Josh Gad’s mind, the controversy of LeFou’s ending was ridiculous and much ado about nothing. As he noted, the shot where LeFou is seen dancing with another man is very brief, you could practically blink and miss it. It’s not something that is highlighted or draws attention to itself,
It’s not like LeFou and this other dude started making out in the middle of the dance floor, it’s just a quick moment in that ending scene. Frankly, it’s so subtle that I wonder if people would have even picked up on it or if it would have been as controversial as it was had everyone not known ahead of time that Josh Gad’s LeFou would be Disney’s first gay character.