Josh Gad and Luke Evans on Being the Bad Guys Everyone Love to Hate
The Beauty and the Beast press day started with an extra special treat. Alan Menken started by singing songs from the film. Once he got to his last song of the morning he paused and asked for some help with the song. Excited I jumped up hoping he was planning on picking someone from the audience but he surprised us with an extra special treat.
We couldn’t believe out eyes when the pair walked on the stage. It was such a great start to our day. After the live performance, we sat down with Luke and Josh to talk about their roles as the bad guys that everyone love to hate.
You can tell that these two have enjoyed playing the roles of Gaston and LeFou, when we thanked them for their performance from earlier they both were quick to respond letting us know how much they love performing.
JG : The truth is, you don’t need to beg us to do a performance. Luke and I will sing at the drop of a coin. But it’s a problem, actually, I never thought I’d be someone who was so willing to sing for no reason at all. Until I met Luke Evans.
LE : We are literally cut from the same cloth.
When the pair walked in the room, you could tell they play off each other a lot. We asked them about the antics from behind the scenes on set.
LE : We cause trouble wherever we go. But make people laugh in the process. It was just a lot of fun playing these characters. You know, first of all, we were massive, massive fans of the original. We were both kids when it came out. He was 10, I was 12. I was in South Wales, he was in South Florida. And the climate was rather different.
It probably meant even more to me ’cause it was always dark and gloomy where I came from. So to go in and watch a Disney film in the little cinema in our village was the highlight of my year! Always was. And to bring them to life, we both felt very lucky. And we knew that we could have a lot of fun and laugh. And there were moments when some of the funniest moments we had, I think are things that we made up on the moment.
The pair on screen had a funny sort of bromance throughout the movie. They added an extra layer of comedy that doesn’t appear in the original animated film.
JG : The first sequence when the two of us are riding in that wagon with Maurice. That whole idea of calming Luke down with stories about the war, was something that we literally came up with on the spot. And we had about like 30 variations of it. Some of them were even more insane than what you see on the screen. But you’re always hoping, when you get paired with somebody – and I’ve had a couple of those films that I’ve done, where it’s all about the chemistry between the two characters. And the day I met Luke, especially because I didn’t even realize we both came from musical theater.
Luke from the West Side, me from Broadway. And so we have this common language and this common understanding. And this common goal of wanting to do justice to a movie that was so – I cannot stress this enough – so pivotal in our childhoods.
The second golden age of Disney animation from LITTLE MERMAID to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, to ALADDIN then to LION KING, defined my growing up. They really did. I was 10 years old when BEAUTY AND THE BEAST came out. And those Alan Menken, Howard Ashman songs, they really were the soundtrack to my childhood. And so bringing a song like Gaston to life, that’s like a dream come true. So it was incredible.
Luke Evans did an amazing job as Gaston, it was like he was born to play the character. We asked Luke about how it felt for him the first time he put on the costume and really dived into the character.
LE : I’ve always said, and I always will say, because I think its a massive part of my creation of a character, especially somebody like Gaston – the look is half of his ego. You know, the hair and the fitted red leather. We went to about four or five incarnations of that leather jacket before we found the right color of blood red, that represented the sinister part of his nature. Because I don’t know if you noticed, but that red jacket which is obviously so synonymous with Gaston in the original. And it’s the same here. That only goes on when he puts Maurice into the carriage to lock him up. And that’s the first time you see it.
And we made that conscious decision. When you put something on like that, there was so much work in it, those buttons all and antlers on each button. And I had a pinky ring which was an antler impressed into red stone. It was all antler themed, as you can imagine. It looked fantastic and you put the wig on and there you go. I remember taking it off on the last day and my hair and makeup lady’s like, “Okay, well, say goodbye to the final time.
He was a hard character to let go. I think we both felt very sad to let them go. Because we’d had so much fun and brought so much happiness to villains, it is to make people laugh.
“We didn’t want to just literally recreate a movie that, in of itself is pretty perfect, right? You can’t do that. You have to add, you have to keep building on the legacy of that which everybody is awaiting and looking forward to,” stated Josh. I have to agree that the original was absolutely amazing, but I can honestly say Disney did an incredible job building and adding to the original and not just remaking it. Since the film meant so much to both Josh and Luke we asked about their reasons for signing on to such an iconic film.
JG : The money. It was one of those, honestly, I literally would have done this movie for nothing. It was – and the reason I signed on was because it was so iconic. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was my FROZEN. You know, like this was the movie I saw five times as a kid.
You know what I mean? And like, that was just recreating these moments, these iconic moments that I grew up with, knowing that my daughters are gonna grow up with this as hopefully their definitive version of the story.
This version of Beauty and the Beast will be the version my kids grow up on, including many other younger kids. Josh and Luke talk about how the film will impact the children in their lives.
JG : This is gonna be for many of your kids and my kids certainly, the first time they ever see a musical that isn’t animated. That’s huge. That’s huge.
LE : My godchildren are very young and I’ve got lots of kids in my family, who are just a little tired of me booking movies that they can’t watch. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] So the day that I got offered it, the first thing I did was text all their parents and just say to them, “I’m gonna be in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and they can finally come to the cinema.”
And they all were at the London premiere. And weirdly, they were happy but also a little sad that I was the bad guy.
While Luke makes it look easy to portray the role of Gaston, we still asked about the challenges he faced while filming.
LE : The physicality of the fight sequence at the end was going to be demanding. Because it took a lot of stunt rehearsals and training. So I had to train quite a few times on weekends once we finished – I came in and they had a big cherry picker which they would raise another six feet and then another.
And I was on cables and I had to land, I had to jump and I just sort of reflect what the Beast was doing on another tower, doing it in his beastly way. Where I am just a human being. So I have to find a way about doing it like Spiderman with long hair. I managed to get it by the time we shot it. But I think it was about a 42 foot leap that I do in the film with a cable. And it’s a trust exercise. I mean, you’re trusting a stunt guy with your life. And it’s an interesting thing to do. But I found that quite challenging. But very rewarding. And thank god it’s in the film. They often don’t make the movie and then you’re really annoyed.
One of the final things we asked the guys was about the message they want audiences to take away after they watch the film. With all the recent controversy around the film, I think we all hope people walk away with the right message.
JG : I think that Gaston in particular, represents a really interesting character. Because there’s I think one of the most important lessons to be learned, comes surprisingly out of that character. Which is, you have a guy who is provoking fear, based on a character that nobody knows. That people are scared of because they’ve never seen him. But they’re afraid of what he’s capable of. Feeding into those fears and going to attack someone because, based on the fact that you’ve never met them before.
But what you believe they’re capable of. Well, that’s as relevant today as it was when BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was first written. And I think the thing that I hope kids can look at and they’re not gonna understand it now. But that’s something as they revisit this film over and over and over again – this idea of never judging a book by its cover, is so important. Right? So that’s what I would say I hope they take from it.
LE : Well, yeah. Love conquers hate. And that’s basically the running theme. And to watch it all being carried by a very strong female lead character. Who basically at the end of the day, guys, she saves the Prince. Multiple times, you know. If it wasn’t for her, this story wouldn’t have the backbone that it does. And it comes from a very fearless, independently spirited young woman who reads, who’s intellectual. Who wants to learn. Who sees that there are no boundaries to her world. It might be right there and then but she knows there’s a world out there to conquer and to discover. And she doesn’t need a man to do it. I mean, she’s a 21st Century Disney princess. And Emma was exactly the right person to portray that character.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens in theaters everywhere on March 17th. Check out the trailer below.
About Beauty and the Beast:
The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” a live-action adaption on of the studio’s animated classic featuring an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Hattie Morahan and Nathan Mack with Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
Directed by Bill Condon and based on the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Alan Menken provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice. The film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.