Bill Condon Says the ‘Gay Moment’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Has Been ‘Overblown’
Earlier this week it seemed like the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake was about to make history with the Disney’s first openly gay character. But now director Bill Condon says the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.
In an interview with British magazine Attitude, Condon revealed that his reimagining of the classic musical would feature an “exclusively gay moment” with Josh Gad’s LeFou. He described the character as being confused about his feelings towards Gaston (Luke Evans), saying he’s “somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.” Condon noted Gad’s subtle portrayal of those feelings which payoff in the end with “a nice, exclusively gay moment.”
The internet quickly reacted, both celebrating and casting skepticism on the comment. It seemed to be a huge step forward for a studio that has long ignored direct representations of the LGBTQ community, often reverting to subtext for possibly queer characters (think Timon and Pumbaa, the family in Frozen, and the maybe-lesbians in Finding Dory).
However, at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, Gad told USA Today that there was nothing in the film’s script that denoted his character was gay. In a phone interview with Condon on Friday, I asked the filmmaker about the scene. When I asked to what extent LeFou’s sexuality was discussed, and how that influenced the way Condon directed Gad on set, here’s what he told me:
Oh God. Can I just tell you? It’s all been overblown. Because it’s just this, it’s part of just what we had fun with. You saw the movie, yeah? You know what I mean. I feel like the kind of thing has been, I wish it were – I love the way it plays pure when people don’t know and it comes as a nice surprise.
When I asked him if he wishes audiences could approach the movie without knowing about the “exclusively gay moment” in advance he said:
To not make a big deal of it. Why is it a big deal?
The moment itself isn’t a big deal at all. In the movie – spoilerphobes, you’ve been warned – LeFou’s sexuality is never directly addressed. Gad slips in some subtle nods to his affections for his hyper-masculine friend with a shoulder rub and a wink in the “Gaston” musical number (some of which you can see in this clip). There’s also a few lines of dialogue that seem to allude to LeFou’s crush on Gaston. Then in the end LeFou finally gets a moment, but it’s a more of a blink-and-you-miss-it shot that finds Gad’s character sharing a dance with another man who previously experienced a self-realization moment of femininity with a wardrobe. It’s hardly “exclusively gay” (can someone please tell me what that actually means?) but maybe a notch or two up on the queer subtext scale compared to most Disney movies.
The real issue, it seems, is that Condon even commented on the moment at all. If he hadn’t revealed anything in the first place, audiences might have been in for a small surprise. Now some might be disappointed after expecting something overt – an Alabama movie theater is already refusing to show the film, which is ridiculous because, duh, and also, the gayest thing is in this movie is a flamboyant wardrobe. (Hide your wife, hide your kids, run for the hills!) So maybe next time it’s best for filmmakers to let us make that discovery on our own first. Or, of course, actually write an explicitly gay character.
Beauty and the Beast opens in theaters March 17.