Building Disney’s Beast

CATEGORY: Broadway

The journey to creating Disney’s Beauty and the Beast began with an 18th-century French fairy tale written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. It was this story that Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, used to create the original 1991 Disney movie. Once the screenwriter molds the story, the Disney design team takes over.

Disney lovingly creates appealing characters for every movie. The development of these characters begins with exploring all options for hair, eyes and body structure. Glen Keane was the Disney supervising animator for Beauty and the Beast. His other credits include The Little MermaidTarzan and UP. Developing the Beast was a true challenge to Keane and his team. They even traveled to Europe to get a firsthand look at the environment in which the story would take place.

After his analysis of the environment, Keane kept coming back to one thing – the wilderness surrounding the story. He decided all pieces of the Beast would stem from that wilderness and wild animals around the world, including boars, gorillas, lions, bears and more. To build the Beast, he started with the head of a buffalo, the mane of a lion, the brow of a gorilla, tusks of a wild boar, arms and body of a bear and lastly, the legs and tail of a wolf.

However, the one piece that is not animal in nature is the Beast’s eyes. To keep the Beast relatable and appealing, Keane decided to keep the eyes of the prince. In this way, the audience sees emotion in those bright blue eyes as the story unfolds.