‘Beauty and the Beast’ featurette: Emma Watson empowers women in new Disney remake [WATCH]

“Belle really dominated and characterized a huge part of my childhood and my growing up,” says Emma Watson in a new featurette for the live-action remake of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which opens on March 17 (watch it above). And it was important to Watson to depict Belle as an empowered woman. “We wanted to give her this element of being quite industrious ans very inventive,” she explains. “I know what she meant to me as a young girl. When you love something that much you really want to do it justice.”

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Director Bill Condon, who previously helmed “Gods and Monsters” and “Dreamgirls,” also wanted to stay true to the spirit of Belle in making this film. “She really is the first modern Disney princess — who doesn’t want to be a princess,” he says. “Someone who’s more interested in figuring out who she is than in finding a guy and getting married … And that was so much a part of the casting of Emma Watson.”

‘Beauty and the Beast’ Cast: First Look at Live-Action Disney Movie

In addition to growing up as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” films, Watson has made a name for herself as an outspoken feminist. In 2014 she became a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and helped to launch the HeForShe campaign which encourages men and boys to defend gender equality. So it was important to Watson to make sure the new version of Belle would be an even stronger role model for young women. And co-star Josh Gad concurs, “Emma as Belle empowers a whole new generation of girls.”

Watch more of the featurette above, in which Dan Stevens (the Beast) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette) also discuss the new empowered Belle, and discuss this film and more in our forums.

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