Emma Watson teases Belle's expanded backstory in Beauty and the Beast remake

Belle's backstory in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live action remake will be more complex than it was in the original cartoon.

Star Emma Watson and director Bill Condon spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the film this week, teasing the new and updated Belle. According to Watson, Belle takes over the role of the wacky inventor that her father Maurice played in the cartoon, inventing a donkey-powered washing machine to allow girls to stop being stuck doing laundry and to start reading more. However, as Belle's father notes in the trailer, the character is ahead of her time for the "small-minded" village, and the townsfolk rebel and destroy her creation.

"They don't think women should read, and it goes further than that," Watson said. "They are deeply suspicious of intelligence."

"Breaking the washing machine is symbolic of not just them breaking something she spent hours working on, but them really trying to break her spirit and trying to push her and mold her into a more 'acceptable' version of herself," she added. "I think that happens a lot with women and a lot with young girls where it's like, 'ooh that's nice, but why don't we kind of push you this way a little bit?'"

To Watson, adding in more pieces of Belle's backstory was important in order to further explain why she was such an outsider with the townsfolk.

"Why is it that she feels like she doesn't fit in so much?" Watson said. "I really wanted to get to the bottom of that."

Condon said that the townspeople see Belle as a threat to their way of life.

"It's that thing that remains under the surface," he said. "But when there's a real threat that unifies everybody, they start to look for other people who make them uncomfortable. That's a pretty common pattern."

Beauty and the Beast, one of our 2017 movie releases you won't want to miss, is due out on March 17.

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