Angela Lansbury Questions Beauty and the Beast Remake

Beauty and the Beast (2017) The Beast (Dan Stevens) and Belle (Emma Watson) in the castle library

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Angela Lansbury discussed the legacy of Disney’s original Beauty and the Beast, and the upcoming live-action remake.

On the legacy of the animated classic: “I think we all had a sense that we were involved with a kind of earth-shaking product that was going to be fairly extraordinary and special. I think we all sensed the way it was so lovingly put together by Roy Disney, who was Walt Disney’s brother, and this was his really great contribution to the Disney World. He took such trouble and care with it. It was his baby, and I was so glad it worked. It had all the elements of the original works. And this is the finest that Disney ever made, I think. So I’m very proud to be part of it.”

On the music of that film: “Oh it was. It was indeed. I’ll never forget when we recorded the music, we were all together in New York, working with the Philharmonic. It was a huge experience for us. Suddenly, instead of a piano accompaniment we had this big orchestra behind us. It was just really thrilling and exciting, and original and wonderful. I’ll never forget it. I can see us all on that day and I was with Jerry Orbach and we just hugged each other. We were so thrilled to be doing it that way, with such care and excitement. Everybody who was a voice [character] felt a very special responsibility and feeling, as I say, doing something that was going to be remembered. And it has been, and it was, and it will always be — all over the world.”

On her personal feelings on the film: “It has brought me into the lives of so many young kids, children, babies. They know my voice. And today, I’ve said this before, I can be talking to a friend in a supermarket, and if a kid happens to be around me at the time, some little child who’s with his mom, he’ll say, “Mom, that’s Mrs. Potts!” [laughs]. They recognize the timbre of my voice. And they’ve watched the movie so many times, because kids don’t just watch movies once. They watch them over, and over, and over again, because they can never get enough. When I did Bedknobs and Broomsticks, kids used to watch over and over and over. They know my voice, so… They don’t know me. And they don’t connect me with the voice. But when they see me in the flesh…”

On the remake: “I was a bit taken aback, naturally. I thought, “Why? Why are we doing this over again?” But I guess, I don’t know why they’re doing it. But they are, and it will be interesting to see what they do with it. These are live action pieces and I know very well the actress who’s playing Mrs. Potts and she’s a very good friend of mine. It’s Emma Thompson. I don’t quite know why they’re doing it. I can’t understand what they’re going to do with it that will be better than what we’ve already done. And how they’re doing it live — it may turn out to be very entertaining and wonderful. It won’t be like the cartoon that we did, but it’s a good story — it’s one of the famous fairy stories that is known worldwide by children. Therefore, why not? I don’t blame them for doing it. But, I’m sorry, they’re not really on our territory. We did it as cartoon characters, and that is quite different from live actors.”