I hope that everyone has had a chance to watch Beauty and the Beast by now. This stunning movie is in theaters now and such a masterpiece. I had the opportunity to have a Disney's Beauty and the Beast Interview with Bill Condon and Alan Menken where they shared with us their story in making the movie.
Bill Condon was the Director of Disney's live action remake of Beauty and the Beast. I love interviewing the Director of a movie. Being able to talk to them, is like looking through a window into the heart of a movie. There is so much more than just a movie. There are hundreds and thousands of people, hours, sweat and tears and heart that goes into making the movie. I love talking to a Director after a movie is finished because you are able to hear their excitement about the movie and well as the passion for the opportunity of making the film. Here are some highlights from our interview.
Question: What drew you to this story?
Bill Condon: "there’s this movie, this classic, perfect movie that already exist and for me more than anything it was the score, the chance to really roll around in that music and to re-stage it. You know, new version of it in a live action format but to specially those songs. It just felt to me that, that like a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Question: How do you work together throughout the process?
Bill Condon: "Well for me I was intimidated at our first meeting because here I am and I'm sort of talking about the first possible new song and this is a legendary composer. Alan as a man of the theatre, is somebody who craves the dialogue and the collaboration. I think that’s what it’s about and that became clear. We just started a conversation and it went on for a couple of years, right?"
Question : What was the hardest decision to make when you were filming the movie of taking the music out or put in?
Bill Condon: "Well we didn’t take anything out, that’s the thing. You look at the animated film and there’s absolutely nothing missing."
Question: Talk about the challenges of preserving the timeless classic with integrating new things?
Bill Condon: "I think again it was always about revealing more. It wasn’t about reinventing. You start to ask questions that didn’t matter in the animated film. How did Belle and Maurice wind up in this village. What happened to her mother? How did the Prince become such a dissolute figure that he was worthy of being cursed? It’s interesting you start asking those questions and you start to bat around what the possible answers are.
What an honor it was to interview Alan Menken. He has influenced so many of my favorite Disney films with this music. He is known for his scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Newsies, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted, Tangled and more. He has been a part of the Disney family for a long time and his musical talent is incredible. We were blessed with the chance to hear him perform music from Beauty and the Beast before we interviewed him.
Question: What drew you to this story?
Alan Menken: "I gotta go back and credit Howard who had some really, you know, when you look at the initial story and how you’re gonna turn it into an animated musical then it was a matter of inventing the enchanted objects and inventing, you know, these huge ego for Gaston and his posse of nitwits who praise him. so simply because for the structure we needed to put in production numbers and comedy numbers and so it was all those brilliant ideas and I gotta say Howard was so instrumental in that."
Question: Are the new songs brand new?
Alan Menken: "They are brand new. Days in the Sun goes back to about 2008. The Days in the Sun, the genesis of that actually began back there as sort of a lullaby moment but once Bill came aboard then that really got reworked, you know, to be a vehicle of so much back story and we’re threading a lot of story to it. And the other songs I would say they were the song we decide at the beginning."
Question: You’ve been in this career for so long. What would you tell your old self knowing what you know now?
Alan Menken: "One of the most important things I learned in my career was it’s not about me. It’s about the characters and the story and don’t ever fall in love with your own material. Let other people fall in love with it if they want. Do it because you’re part of a thing that’s larger than you."
Question: Is hearing hearing stories of how your music has impacted other people, impacted you?
Alan Menken: " It’s unreal. It’s unreal. It gives me more of a sense of what we think of a collective consciousness, that we’re all a part of a collective consciousness because, we as artists are conduits for emotion and for things. They really come through us. I mean god knows we shape them and so I just feel very blessed honestly, blessed that I'm a vehicle for that"
This was such a fun interview. Their stories and their heart really made me appreciate the movie more. This movie really is stunning and the talent of these two men really made it amazing. I love that they are so humble and grateful and recognize that they are both part of a bigger picture. They love Disney and loved being a part of making this movie. Disney's Beauty and the Beast is in theaters now!!