The major players have been cast for Bill Condon's Beauty & the Beast, and, I must say, it's pretty frickin' perfect. Do we need a live-action version of this story? Not really, but Disney's recent success with Cinderella means they probably won't stop any time soon. To celebrate, I've ranked the casting of this remake below. This could be really great. By the way, Stanley Tucci's casting doesn't count since he's a brand new character for this realm).
10. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette (Babette?)
Hold your horses. Before you get your panties in a twist, I should point out that this singular casting decision had me jumping up and down. We get to see Mbatha-Raw in a lighter role, and that's not knocking her huge breakout last year (with both Belle and Beyond the Lights--you have seen both of those, right...right?!). Why couldn't they have cast her as Belle? She has the musical chops (ahem...are you watching Beyond the Lights yet?), so while her role is strong, they could have really remade this classic by putting her front and center.
9. Kevin Kline as Maurice
Belle's father will be played by one of the funniest guys ever. I would argue that Kline could still play Lumiere, but some would say he's too old for it. Him wooing Mbatha-Raw might come across a little more The Last of Robin Hood than anything else.
8. Luke Evans as Gaston
It's not that there's anything wrong with Luke Evans. He just appears in a lot of crappy CGI movies that come out between January and April (or at least it seems that way). Gaston is a monster (get it...), but he's also a hilarious buffoon. Channing Tatum or Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, would have been a better choice. He needs to prove himself. The Russell Crowe ruining factor is high with this one.
7. Dan Stevens as The Beast
Dan Stevens lands far down on this list mainly because I haven't seen him in a lot of things. Downton Abbey is nowhere on my personal radar, and he terrified me as a killing machine in The Guest. Those sparkling blue eyes are a great plus, though.
6. Audra McDonald as Gerderobe
Audra McDonald. In a Disney feature film. A musical feature film. That is all.
5. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere
Ewan McGregor's casting as the suave candelabra was the last major announcement. Jean Dujardin would have been the perfect choice, but maybe too much like the animated version? For all those haters out there, McGregor has charm to spare. Check out Down with Love when you get a chance, because he's winning and consciously aware of how infectious his smile is:
Worried about his singing and have some time to kill?
McGregor is one of the strongest decisions.
4. Emma Watson as Belle
Emma Watson's casting was the first major breakthrough in the casting process for Beast. Watson is no stranger to playing headstrong female leads, and Belle is one, if not the, most independent princesses in the Disney canon. Will she get swallowed up by all the flashy casting around her? Maybe. People are already chomping at the bit to hear her singing as well...
Don't be worried. Watson has always been one of the strongest elements in all the films she's been in.
3. Josh Gad as Le Fou
When Gad's casting broke, it made sense to a lot of people. He might be the cast member that most resembles his animated counterpart. It doesn't hurt that the Frozen mania has turned Gad into a recognizable figure, so don't be surprised when little kids are singing "In Summer" during your screening. Gad never minds look like an idiot, and Le Fou is Gaston with even less common sense and no muscles.
2. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts
Emma Thompson elevates everything she's involved with, so she skyrocketed to the top half of this list immediately. Mrs. Potts is a gentle, maternal figure to Belle, but can we keep our fingers crossed for a bit of sass from Thompson? Like red carpet circa 2013 Emma Thompson? She could take the character into intellectual territory while not sacrificing her warmth. Hope she's not worried about singing that title number...
1. Ian McKellan as Cogsworth
One could argue that McKellan is too old to play The Beast's stuffy manservant, Cogsworth. For the last 10 years or so, McKellan has been recognized mostly as either Magneto or Gandalf. While he's brilliant at everything, I'm most looking forward to Cogsworth, because he's a fussy nincompoop. McKellan's best performance is in Bill Condon's Gods & Monsters (robbed of an Oscar, by the way), so fingers crossed that Condon allows McKellan to be looser and less serious than his tentpole fare. He's going to kill it.
So, what do you think? Agree or disagree?