It’s a tale as old as time but also a time for something new, something groundbreaking — for Disney, at least. Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon spoke about the movie in the April issue of Attitude magazine, which Emma Watson and Dan Stevens cover, and revealed the modern re-imagining of the animated classic will not only feature Disney’s first openly gay character but the movie will make Disney history with its first ever “exclusively gay moment.”
Played by Josh Gad, LeFou primarily serves as sidekick to the dastardly Gaston (Luke Evans) but he’ll also have what Attitude describes as a “small but significant subplot of his own.” Wheeeee! The more Gad, the better.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told the magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings.”
As for Gad’s portrayal? Condon applauds the actor, saying he “makes something really subtle and delicious out of it,” adding “that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Condon also revealed that the 1991 animated film wasn’t originally a musical but it was lyricist Howard Ashman‘s AIDS diagnosis that shaped the movie into the hit it became.
“It was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters,” Condon explained. “Until then it had mostly been Belle’s story that they had been telling.”
For Ashman, it was “a metaphor for AIDS,” Condon explained. “He was cursed and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him and maybe there was a chance for a miracle and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that he was doing.”
Whether intentional or not, Condon is bringing it back full circle for Ashman, who passed away four days after the first screening of the original. He never saw just how adored the movie and its music was, nor how his tale would be honoured, and now his legacy will live on in the new film.
“It’s only a first step towards creating a cinematic world that reflects the one in which many of us are now proud to live,” said Attitude‘s editor-in-chief Matt Cain. “But it’s a step in the right direction and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it — and in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.” Hear, hear.