'Beauty And The Beast' Live-Action Film Pays Tribute To Original Lyricist Who Died Four Days Before Original Premiere In The Most Touching Way
Lyricist Howard Ashman is being remembered in the live-action remake. The new film will pay tribute to the man who tragically died four days before the first screening of 'Beauty and the Beast.'
Gone but never forgotten, especially when your work has made such a lasting impact on a beloved piece of cinematic history.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beloved and popular romance stories. Not only is it a classic, feel-good love story, it also helped a generation of misfits, book-loving geeks, and those who felt like monsters, know that they too are worthy of love.
Even behind the scenes, the original animated film helped one misfit deal with his own life crisis. Director Bill Condon of the live-action film tells Attitude magazine about lyricist Howard Ashman who worked on the original 1991 animated film.
“Disney had been developing Beauty and the Beast for decades but there was a specific version they were working on developing in the ‘80s.” In the original concept, the movie was not a musical and was centered solely on Belle.
But the success of The Little Mermaid had Disney asking composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman to work on Beauty and the Beast.
But Ashman had other pressing things on his mind. The lyricist had just found out he had AIDS, like so many in the gay community in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He continued to battle the disease as he worked on the film and turned his pain into a beloved piece of cinema.
It was Ashman’s idea to turn the original concept into musical that centered on both Belle and the Beast.
“And specifically for him it was a metaphor for AIDS” Condon explains. “He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that [Ashman] was doing.”
However, Ashman did not receive his miracle. He passed away on March 14, 1991, just four days before the first screening of his film.
Because of Ashman’s contribution to the film and his tragic death, the live-action remake will honor his lasting legacy in a similarly deliberate way.
The remake will make history with Disney’s first gay character on film.
LeFou, who is Gaston’s sidekick, will be outwardly gay and in love with Gaston. Director Bill Condon even teases that there is a specific moment that defines this relationship, although he is keeping the details a secret!
“LeFou is somebody who, on one day wants to be Gaston, and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Though Condon does not reveal what that moment is, it is certainly touching for the live-action remake to honor the man who made the Beast the memorable, beloved character he is today.
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