Bill Condon reveals how Disney approached the live-action remake and what he learned about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange while helming 2013’s ‘The Fifth Estate.’
A longtime fan of movie musicals, Bill Condon wasn’t fazed when Disney entrusted him with turning the 1991 animated Beauty and the Beastinto a $160 million live-action movie starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens (opening March 17). But transferring the hand-drawn classic into a 3D world took nearly three years, requiring six months of R&D before preproduction even began. “There was a lot of trial and error,” he admits.
A New York City native, Condon, 61, graduated from Columbia University with a degree in philosophy before heading to Los Angeles, where he planned to enroll in UCLA’s film school. Instead, he found a job with producer-director Michael Laughlin, for whom he wrote the early ’80s sci-fi tales Strange Behavior and Strange Invaders, before eventually directing his breakthrough movie, 1998’s Gods and Monsters, for which he won a best adapted screenplay Oscar.
Condon and his longtime partner Jack Morrissey, who works with him as his co-producer, divide their time between New York (where Condon edits his films) and Los Angeles. The director spoke with THR about why audiences are now more receptive to musicals, how Disney approached the Beauty and the Beast remake and what he learned about Julian Assange while directing the 2013 biopic The Fifth Estate.
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