Now that Beauty and the Beast has danced into the record books with huge audience numbers and a record $170 million opening weekend box office haul, it’s fair to say that the “tale as old as time” has struck a chord with moviegoers.
Those songs! That talented cast! Those incredible costumes! The spectacle stuns, but the live-action Disney reboot leaves us wondering about a few things: How did they get all of that magic into one movie? Who had to learn to sing? How many people and animals were in that huge opening number? What kind of hair was Beast-turned-Prince Dan Stevens sporting in the end?
Here’s an inside look at the answers to all those burning questions — and more:
How many people, animals and props were involved in making the opening musical number, “Belle?”
According to Disney, there were more than 150 cast members and extras involved, along with 28 wagons and carts, hundreds of live animals (horses, cows, mules, ducks, geese and hens) and countless props and set decorations. The set itself was also the production’s largest, measuring 28,787 square feet.
Bonus fact: The town is named Villeneuve, a fictional French village that was built on the backlot at Shepperton Studios outside London. The town’s name is an homage to Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, the author of the original Beauty and the Beast story.
How many horses played Belle and Maurice (Kevin Kline)’s trusty steed, Philippe?
“Belle and Maurice’s horse Philippe was played by three different horses, two of which had to be painted on a daily basis,” says a rep for the studio.
How did they pull off the waltz scene between Belle (Emma Watson) and the Beast?
Carefully! Watson and Stevens first had to learn the choreography, and then Stevens had to master it on stilts. The British star tells PEOPLE practice makes perfect when it came time to learn how to walk and dance in the steel contraptions.
“You’ve just got to get in ’em, start moving around!” Stevens says with a laugh. “Fortunately we had about three months of pre-production for rehearsals, learning the songs, the dances. Initially with the waltz I learned the steps on the ground and graduated to the stilts, which was slightly terrifying for me but probably more for Emma. I think she was very worried that I was going to tread on her toes in steel stilts, which could’ve ruined the movie, but I didn’t, so I’m very proud of that.”
Is that Dan Stevens’ real singing voice?
Yes! And it was a welcome challenge for the actor.
“Singing was a relatively new thing to me,” Stevens, 34, says of re-training his singing voice. “I’d sung at school and when I was younger, but in my 20s I [hadn’t] sung as extensively so reengaging my voice, retraining the voice was a big challenge.”
Did they use Dan Stevens’ actual face for the Beast?
Yes, although the finished product is a computer-animated and significantly hairier version.
Stevens wore a 40-lb. “muscle suit” and performed the role on stilts — first so that the size and movements of the character were captured on set during filming, and then again for the visual-effects teams so that his face was captured and later computer-animated with the Beast’s hair and fangs.
“Every couple of weeks I would go into a special booth and my face would be sprayed with about 10,000 UV dots and I would sit in what I used to call the Tron cage,” Stevens says. “Anything I’d been doing in the previous two weeks in the scenes, whether it was eating, sleeping, roaring, waltzing, I did it again with my face, with Emma [Watson] sitting on the other side of the cage, and we would capture the Beast’s face.”
What’s with Dan Stevens’ hair in that Prince reveal?
It’s a wig. A stringy, scraggly one.
“The hair at the end, was it extensions? I think it was a wig,” Stevens says, trying hard to remember the hair accessory he wore two years ago during filming. “It was quite awhile ago. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was a wig,” he adds with a smile. “And what a wig!”
Which costume was the most challenging to create?
Belle’s red “montage” outfit, aka the one she wears outdoors for her snowball fight with Beast. Why? Because costume designer Jacqueline Durran used all eco-friendly materials in its design.
“Because Emma is so interested in sustainability and fair trade, eco fabrics and eco fashion, we applied those criteria to making a costume from head to toe,” Durran tells PEOPLE. “That [red] costume was made entirely from sustainable fabrics. We dyed it in vegetable dyes in our workroom, we had shoes made with eco leather, and we did the whole thing from top to bottom to be as thorough as we could. People learned different skills in the work rooms to be able to do it, so the dyers learned to dye with strange vegetable dye. Sometimes it took two weeks to dye something because you’d have to leave it in there for that long to get a rich color. It really was a learning curve for all of us, I’d certainly never done that before.”
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How did the filmmakers decide on which songs to feature from the animated film and Broadway musical?
The answer is by hiring and deferring to the animated film’s composer, Alan Menken, who also co-wrote the music for the new film.
“It was challenging,” Menken told EW. “[The] Broadway show had songs that I would have loved to use for the movie, but the form for a film and the form for a Broadway show are different, so the song we wrote for the Broadway show was not going to work. Consequently, we wrote a brand-new song. The challenge is just to maintain the balance of what we originally had for the score and what we had for the show, and at the same time allow this film to have its own character.”
How many new songs are in the film?
Menken and lyricist Tim Rice (The Lion King) wrote three new ballads for the film. They are: “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” performed by Belle and her father (and sung by Celine Dion over the end credits), “Evermore,” which Beast sings for Belle when he releases her (and is sung by Josh Groban over the end credits), and “Days in the Sun,” which is sung by the objects in the castle and Belle when they are going to sleep.
What was left on the cutting room floor?
“I mean, Gaston dies. Is that a spoiler?” Gad says with a laugh, when PEOPLE asked him and Evans during a recent sit-down if there are any Easter eggs fans should look out for. “The Easter egg I fought for [director] Bill Condon to put in but we never did, there’s a moment in the original where a bunch of snow falls on LeFou and he becomes a snowman and I thought, this could kill. It’s a little meta but it could be great [For those who may have forgotten, Gad played Olaf, the snowman in Frozen].”
Evans says his favorite scene that didn’t make the movie is one filmed during the castle battle, in which Gad’s LeFou has a fight with a bathroom appliance.
“What I miss, which we shot and is not in the film, is you having a fight with the toilet,” Evans says to Gad.
Adds Gad: “Played by Stephen Merchant (from Hello Ladies and the original Office)!”
“Yeah, it didn’t make the final cut,” Evans says with mock sadness.
Both actors joke that they have no idea what might end up on the DVD/Blu-ray because no one tells them anything.
“Nobody guarantees us anything,” says Gad. “We’re not even guaranteed that we’re going to be in the movie. It’s all based on our interview performances.
Adds Evans: “Which so far have been terrible.”