An amazing film cannot be carried by only the lead roles. It takes an entire cast. After watching Beauty and the Beast, those words have never been more true. Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw breathe life and sass into the roles of Garderobe and Plumette which left me cheering! Check out what they have to say in this exclusive interview during the Be Our Guest Event.
Interview with Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
I’ve loved Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw for a long time. I let out a little squeal when they walked into the room. I enjoyed watching Gugu on Doctor Who and adored Audra on Private Practice and admire her work on Broadway. And have you seen that Carpool Karaoke with her and other Broadway Stars? It was everything. Now take a look at these movie posters.
Bam! I can’t. They’re both stunning. Just the looks they’re throwing at the audience. Mmm hmm, I see you.
Okay, back to the interview.
“If Disney calls, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean?”
Why, yes, yes I do know what you mean. I’m glad we’re on the same level of fandom. But really, what made this interview so fantastic is that both Audra and Gugu are so relatable. Someone asked why they wanted to be a part of the film.
Gugu: “Well, for me I was obsessed with the original Disney film. It came out when I was eight years old, I had the cassette tape, made my mom play it in the car on the way to ballet and tap and modern, every day. I knew all the words to all the songs, and it is still my favorite Disney movie so I had a very personal connection to it. When my agent called and said they wanted me to play a part in this I squealed down the phone, so loudly. I think that little eight-year-old inside of me was just so excited and it sort of connects you back to growing up with Disney movies.”
Wouldn’t that be all of us?
Audra: “When I got the call, I’d known that the movie was being made and I was excited about it and my agent called said, ‘so, Beauty and the Beast,’ he’s like, ‘yeah, they’re turning it into [a movie], isn’t that great?’ He said ‘yeah, so they want you to be in it.’ My response was, ‘excuse me? That doesn’t make sense…But, if Disney calls, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean?”
When You Weren’t Cast in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway
I also read that Audra auditioned for Beauty and the Beast on Broadway and was not cast, so I asked her how she felt when she was cast in the film.
Audra: On the night before we started filming in London, we all went out to dinner and they had a dinner for the cast and everybody. And I said to Alan [Menken] (after a glass of wine, feeling jet lagged) ‘so, Alan. I auditioned for the musical on Broadway for the ensemble and I didn’t get cast in the ensemble.’ And he goes, ‘I know, I know, I know. Is this okay?’ I was like, ‘yes.’ Thank you, this fixes it, thank you.”
See, Audra always keeps it classy. Because if it was me, I probably would have been like, “Boom! How do you like me now?” This is also why I’m not cast in major motion pictures.
The Path to Singing
Another part of the interview also touched me. Someone asked for advice for her daughter who wanted to pursue singing and what the path was for them as children.
Audra: “So, it was a lot of it had to do with my parents and my mom. I was a really hyperactive child struggling, and my parents were struggling with trying to figure out how to help me. I was an overdramatic child and having a hard time in school and whatnot. They went to the local dinner theater one night and saw a little junior troupe that performed before the main musical, and it was a group of kids. I loved to sing at home..and I had all this extra energy and drama inside of me. And they said, ‘maybe this is gonna help her.’ So, I auditioned for that when I was nine years old and that set me on my path. I really have my parents to thank for looking for something that would be right for me to express who I was and find a way to channel that energy. That’s what started me on my path.”
As the mother of 5 that really hit home with me. It may not be singing that my kids want to do, but I’ll admit, sometimes it’s easier on me for them to do nothing. I’m tired after taking them to sports practice and games on the weekends. I also have friends who are having a hard time trying to make decisions on how best to help their children struggling with ADHD. Everyone’s path is not the same. It’s up to us as parents to help our children find their paths and support them.
The Diversity of The Cast
When asked about the diversity of the cast of Beauty and the Beast, this was their reply..
Gugu: “Yeah, I guess we’re all just bringing ourselves and thrilled that Bill Condon, the director, had the vision to make it such a diverse cast. It wasn’t really something we discussed, which is kind of cool in this day and age, it just sort of is. I’m sort of thrilled about it.”
Audra: “Hopefully we’ll get to a day where no one has to think about it. You know, that’s what we’re aiming for so I mean I’m just, I’m pleased that Disney recognizes that you know, you’ve got to represent the entire world out there. And that’s what they’re doing.”
Amen! You do have to represent the entire world out there. It’s important for all the kids who don’t look like everyone else. They need to know that they, too, deserve a fairy tale.
The Messages Within Beauty and the Beast
What do you hope audiences take away from watching Beauty and the Beast?
Gugu: “I hope that people will get swept up in the romance and you know, the music is just so iconic. And you know, I love the message that beauty is found within, you know, it’s an oldie but a goodie. I think you know, really for this film, the idea to look a little deeper, see the human within each and every person, you know, even if the exterior is not, is something that intimidates you or you’re not familiar with. There’s always a human underneath it all. And I think to try to connect to somebody’s soul, is really important.”
Audra: “Also that love yeah, there’s always the love conquers all, love wins and it’s not about just giving the love but loving yourself, too. I think that’s what’s so important. And realizing that what you have inside of you is most important and the outside doesn’t necessarily matter. I’m sure that’s what people are gonna take away from this.”
I’ve heard some people ask why? Why remake a movie that’s already so great, especially when the storyline is pretty much the same? Personally, I think it’s because we need these messages. We need to hear them again, see them a little differently. Perhaps a gentle reminder of loving who you are and loving others who are different need to be reiterated with beautiful scenery and music. Thank you, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw for taking me to church, but in the good way. I learned a lot and definitely felt the joy and positivity.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens in theaters tomorrow, March 17!!
Thank you, Disney, for inviting me to interview some of the cast of Beauty and the Beast and providing travel and accommodations. All opinions about the goosebumps felt when talking to Audra and Gugu are my own.