Beauty and the Beast’s Garderobe & Plumette, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw #BeOurGuest

Posted on: March 16th, 2017 by

I was honored to be invited to the #BeOurGuestEvent, a Disney press junket for Beauty and the Beast, Moana Bluray, and other Disney and ABC TV programming. As a guest, my expenses were covered in return for a series of articles about my experiences and reviews of the programming.

 

Disney Beauty and the Beast Be Our Guest Press Junket

 

Last week, I started sharing the experiences I had during a magical few days in LA to celebrate not only the release of Beauty and the Beast in theaters, but also a number of other Disney movies and shows as well as ABC shows being launched or returning to TV. You can find all our stories by clicking on #BeOurGuestEvent. Today’s Beauty and the Beast cast interview is with the talented Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw who play the characters of Garderobe and Plumette.

 

Beauty and the Beast's Garderobe & Plumette, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw #BeOurGuest

 

Audra McDonald & Gugu Mbatha-Raw are beautiful and charismatic!

When these two talented actresses spoke to us about the Beauty and the Beast movie, their characters, what the movie meant to them, and Emma Watson, we saw that their beauty is not only on the outside, but also radiates from the inside. Keep reading to see what Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw shared with us.

 

Beauty and the Beast is available in theaters nationwide beginning this Friday, March 17, 2017. Avoid waiting in lines at the theater or having tickets sold out. Buy your Beauty and the Beast tickets in advance by clicking HERE to buy your tickets through Fandango.

 

Beauty and the Beast

 

Why did they want to be a part of this film?

We noticed a common theme when we asked this question in our Beauty and the Beast cast interviews. It seems all of the cast has a connection to the animated Beauty and the Beast from watching it repeatedly during their childhood. The ladies shared their Beauty and the Beast connections below.

 

Gugu started, “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. I made my mom play it in the car on the way to ballet and tap and modern dance, everyday. 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 in the phone loudly.” We could still see the excitement in Gugu as she continued, “I think it was probably the biggest reaction to getting a job that I’ve every had. Because 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. Then, this cast is just phenomenal.”

 

Beauty and the Beast interview with GUGU MBATHA-RAW at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

Photo taken during our interview session with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Audra McDonald. Photo Credit Coralie Hughes Seright, LovebugsAndPostcards.com

 

Audra told us about her reaction saying, “When I got the call I had known that the movie was being made and I was excited about it. My agent called and he said, ‘so, Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘they’re turning it into this movie, isn’t that great?’  he continued, ‘they want you to be in it.’ I was like, ‘excuse me? That doesn’t make sense. I was like, ‘what?  Why?’ But, if Disney calls, I would sell churros at the park for them, you know what I mean?”

 

We all laughed at that because we certainly knew what she meant. Audra continued, “It’s just Disney, you want to be a part of it, so yes, it’s just an automatic yes.”

 

Audra McDonald’s path to performing

One of the bloggers in our group interview asked Audra about what her childhood was like and what lead her to becoming a performer. Her response was great advice for all of us parents with talented children or those with a lot of energy.

 

Audra reflected on her childhood, “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 had a hard time in school and whatnot. Then, we went to the local dinner theater one night and saw a little junior troop that performed before the main musical and it was a group of kids. I loved to sing at home and all that stuff and I had all this extra energy and drama inside of me. My parents said, ‘maybe this is gonna help her.’ 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.”

 

Beauty and the Beast interview with Audra McDonald at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

Photo taken during our interview session with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Audra McDonald. Photo Credit Coralie Hughes Seright, LovebugsAndPostcards.com

 

We talked about diversity in the film and what their characters brought to the 21st century version of Beauty and the Beast.

 

Gugu started, “We’re all just bringing ourselves and were 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. I’m sort of thrilled about it.”

 

Audra added, “Hopefully we’ll get to a day where no one has to think about it. That’s what we’re aiming for; I’m pleased that Disney recognizes that you’ve got to represent the entire world out there.”

 

Audra shared with us about being a mom and having her own children watch the live action adventure adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Audra McDonald has a 16 year old daughter, a 4 month old baby, and 2 stepsons. When not on camera, she’s playing the role of Supermom, nursing or pumping in between the work of promoting the movie and being there for her family. We discussed some of the challenges of breastfeeding while working before the conversation shifted to her 16 year old.

 

Audra explained, “When I got cast and I told my sixteen year old that I was doing it, she was like, ‘oh that’s cool.’ And I was like, ‘Emma Watson.’  And my daughter was like, ‘oh my God.’ The kids were most excited about that. That thrills me to no end because Emma’s such an incredible role model. I was saying in the press conference, my daughter for her 16th birthday and her 15th birthday, asked for people to make donations to charities in her name. That’s what she asked for and that’s because of Emma Watson. That’s what these kids are learning, if that’s your role model, then go, go, go you know. To be a part of this film that’s a classic and part of the Disney cannon and also be in a film with someone like Emma Watson who has influenced my kids so much is very important to me and one of the reasons I said, ‘yes.’”

 

Beauty and the Beast animated characters

The mantel clock Cogsworth, the teapot Mrs. Potts, Lumiere the candelabra and the feather duster Plumette live in an enchanted castle in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST the live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic directed by Bill Condon.

 

How as it different preparing for your role for the animated parts versus the regular parts?

One of the questions my son’s second grade classmates had for me to ask the characters of Beauty and the Beast was about playing animated characters. His classmates wanted to know how it was different to be an animated figure instead of a regular person. Gugu and Audra both talked about their experiences and the differences for them.

 

Gugu started, “Well, for me it was just so liberating. I’ve never been offered a role like this before. I had to come from doing some quite intense dramatic roles and the idea of playing a feather duster, I thought was so whimsical and fun. It’s a lot of vocal work in the recording studio, not just the singing but finding the voice of the character, working on the French accent with the dialect coach and also just really going back to that childhood thing of ‘let’s pretend.’ You’re not limited by your face and your body.”

 

Audra added, “You have so much more freedom I think. Bill Condon, is such an incredible leader, and an amazing director. You feel very safe with him, so when you’re doing the vocal work for the characters, it’s just you, the recording engineers and Bill. Bill’s in there with you and he’s saying, ‘okay, now try one like this.’ He’s in there playing with you in a way. It’s truly just make believe and for the wardrobe it was ‘okay, she’s kind of trying to get to the staircase at this point so, grunt a little bit.’  ‘Grunt like this, okay now she’s just, snore this way, snore and sing a high note.’ We had the time and the freedom to just explore and then they go and work with the CGI folks. Then the CGI folks bring back something {Then, we add to that.} It’s a real collaborative effort. It takes a village; it took a massive village for this one.

 

The work of developing and wearing such elaborate costumes and make-up

In Beauty and the Beast, Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw characters of Garderobe and Plumette have these incredible costumes with such elegant details. We talked with them about what it was like wearing those costumes.

 

Gugu began, “Jacqueline is an incredible costume designer. On my first costume fitting, she said, ‘Would you like to meet your object?’ In the room, they had the feather duster on a stand and I was kind of taken aback because Plumette is quite different to the feather duster Fifi, who’s more sort of mop in the original animated Beauty and the Beast.”

 

Beauty and the Beast Garderobe and Plumette

Belle (Emma Watson) learns that the Beast’s castle is enchanted in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, directed by Bill Condon.

 

Gugu continued, “I was pleasantly surprised to see that they made her into this sort of flying dove like peacock, a very dainty creation. In the costume fitting, we played around with the bird theme. I had a big tail feather on one of my costumes, a huge bustle which also worked with the period.  I had feathers in my hair, we played around with this sort of Marilyn Monroe style wig so it was kind of fun for me to blonde which is just so outrageous.

 

Beauty and the Beast Plumette

 

Audra shared her experiences, “We both got to be blonde. (Which made everyone laugh.) Being the wardrobe, the first time I sat in the chair and, with the dress being so large I couldn’t walk in any regular door to get to the set. I had to walk sideways and scrunch down because once they started putting the wig on, I was like, ‘wow, that’s big, that’s tall’ and the costume designer said, ‘hold on.’ {There was another layer before the top part} Then birds and stuff started going in. I was like ‘oh my goodness what is going on?’ But, it makes perfect sense because once she’s transformed into the wardrobe, the top of the wardrobe if you notice is her wig. You couldn’t even see them but this is the detail that Disney pays attention too. The shoes that I wore were the feet of the wardrobe. If you’d actually seen my shoes, they curled up into the exact sort of way that the legs of the wardrobe and all of that. Even within the design of our make up, all of it is echoed in the objects we were.

 

Beauty and the Beast Garderobe

 

More about Garderobe’s incredibly big wig.

Give Audra credit. How many of us could wear a wig that large, day after day?

 

Audra added, “The wig was literally two feet off of my head and so heavy and the dress was so big. Not only could I not sit down but I also could not hold my head up for long periods of time. So the set carpenters built me a lean too [for those in between moments of rest}. It was a humongous, about three feet taller than {me} slab of wood that had a bicycle seat. I could kind of just perch on that and lean back like that between takes, because it was enormous.

 

Plumette’s Love Scenes in Beauty and the Beast

Within the stories of Beauty and the Beast is a love story between Plumette and Lumiere. We want to know if Gugu was able to tape any scenes together with her love interest.

 

Disappointed Gugu told us “No, unfortunately not, although we did first meet in a dance rehearsal.” Like Emma had shared with us in our Dan Stevens interview, Gugu also agreed dancing with a costar is a great way to get to know each other. “When you’re both learning something together and stumbling {it can be difficult}, and Ewan {Lumiere} is such a generous actor with such a great sense of humor. It was great working with him.”

 

Beauty and the Beast Lumiere and Plumette

Lumiere, the candelabra, is smitten with Plumette, the feather duster, in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic which is a celebration of one of the most beloved stories ever told.

 

What was it like for them to actually see everything come together?

Many times actors never get to see the final film till it makes its debut. Such was the case for Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Their first look at the finished version of Beauty and the Beast was at the premieres. They told us about that experience.

 

Gugu went first, “It was breathtaking. I saw it for the first time just two nights ago at the Hollywood premier and to see it with an audience and people are applauding after musical numbers. It brought back all those memories of those songs.”

 

Both Audra and Gugu commented the experience was overwhelming, in a good way of course.

 

Audra shared “I saw it at the London premier and I was so shocked at how moved I was. I really felt that I was watching it as an innocent sort of general audience member, not someone who had been a part of the film. I hate watching myself on film or on screen and this I sort of felt completely removed from it. I didn’t really see myself up there, I was just in the world and I was weeping at the end and I was like, ‘I was there, I was in the scene. Why am I crying so much?’ You get swept up, you get absolutely swept up.”

 

When you see Beauty and the Beast, I think you and your kids will absolutely get swept up in the story.

 

Thoughts on working with Emma Watson

We also wanted to know how much time, if any, Gugu and Audra, were able to have with Emma Watson and what that experience was like.

 

Gugu started, “She was very busy, but I’m so inspired by her. We’ve met a few times and she really is a very inspiring, leading lady. I think she’s perfect for this role, articulate and smart and someone who stands up for what she believes in with her work at the UN.” Gugu continues, “I’m just proud to be supporting her in this film.”

 

Audra says, beaming with pride, “She’s a great lady. I said this before watching the film. I was overwhelmed with how proud I was of her. It’s not my place to be, I’m not her mom, I’m not, anything. But, I’m just proud of not only the work that she’s done but what she represents. And how she comports herself because she could be a very different person and people would forgive her for it. Instead she’s risen absolutely up to the top and is being a great role model. I’m really proud of her.”

 

Favorite Beauty and the Beast scenes

They have to have a favorite scene, right? ;-)

 

Audra said, “I think it was just the way that the entire film came together, to the point where I couldn’t see the seams. I knew where the seams were but I couldn’t see them. In doing that I wasn’t able to critique this and critique. I was just swept up in everything.”

 

Gugu added, “I think it’s the power of the score as well. It transports you. There’s just something about that music that is so romantic and hits you on an emotional level that you can’t not be swept up in it.”

 

What do they hope audiences will take away from seeing this film?

This question is what has lead to some of the most fascinating answers and really lets us see the actress/actor behind the character.

 

Gugu shared first, “I hope that people will get swept up in the romance and the music. I love the message that beauty is found within, it’s an oldie but a goodie. I think for this film, the idea to you look a little deeper to see the human within each and every person, even if the exterior is not, even if it is something that intimidates you or you’re not familiar with. There’s always a human underneath it all. I think to try to connect to somebody’s soul, is really important.”

 

Audra agreed and added “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. The outside doesn’t necessarily matter. I’m sure that’s what people are gonna take away from this.”

 

With Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw we had the chance to sit down with two glamorous women who like I said truly radiate beauty from the inside out. I only wish I could have had more time to talk with them. I am, though, looking forward to seeing them on the screen again when I go back to watch Beauty and the Beast for a second time. Remember, you can click over to here, to read more of our Beauty and the Beast interviews.

 

Beauty and the Beast group picture with Audra McDonald and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

 

Watch Beauty and the Beast THIS FRIDAY at your local theater!

 

 

 

Next week, our #BeOurGuestEvent series continues with a look at our interview with Director Bill Condon and Music Composer Extraordinaire Alan Menken.. You can get caught up with our #BeOurGuestEvent series anytime by clicking on #BeOurGuestEvent.

 

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