In 2017, director Bill Condon contributed Beauty and the Beast to the ongoing “live action remakes of beloved Disney classics” film pantheon happening right now. The film, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as its title characters, was a smash box-office hit, helping give the studio confidence to produce both Aladdin and The Lion King adaptations in 2019. But one moment, construed and executed under the most positive of intentions, wound up generating a whole bunch of very, very, very stupid controversy. And Josh Gad, who played the offending character LeFou in the film, got into exactly what happened on Radio Andy, Andy Cohen‘s SiriusXM show.
A bit of context if you haven’t seen the live-action remake: LeFou is Gaston’s (Luke Evans) most reliable henchman, always there by his side to do his bidding and sing his praises (quite literally, in a song!). In the original 1991 film, not much is known about LeFou’s personal life, let alone his sexuality. But Gad and Condon wanted to give a shade to LeFou — specifically, as Gad put it, in his “happy ending.”
Here’s what we decided, we decided that LeFou’s happy ending would be to dance with another man… It was my pitch, that’s how I really wanted the movie to end… I was so amazed they let us do it… That became such a controversial thing, apparently, even though it was only three seconds of screen time. We never put a spotlight on it. We never meant to put a spotlight on it. It became a conflated, weird controversy.
Firstly: Props to Gad and Condon for including some LGBTQ representation in their modern take, and props to Disney for letting it happen. It’s nice to hear that the idea originally came from Gad, whose personal investment in representative stories continues after making this film: “I think there is still lots more work to be done in equal representation, and I really hope that Disney keeps finding more ways to do that.”
Sadly, this small dance moment did, indeed, become “conflated” and “weird,” with some theatres even refusing to screen the film as a result. It’s a strange, blatantly homophobic response — especially considering the moment in question is so small and so chaste, and that the central narrative of the rest of the film is about a woman and a damn beast-man falling in love. I guess if it’s performatively heteronormative it’s okay! Regardless of all of this, Gad walked away from his decision feeling generally optimistic: “In light of that fact that so many people were like, ‘Blah, blah, blah,’ there were so many people who stood up and applauded that moment and were so excited about it.”
Check out the full comments Gad gave Radio Andy below. For more on Gad, check out our review of his latest, Frozen II. Plus, check out our Murder on the Orient Express interview with him. And finally — here he is singing “Gaston,” because everyone could use some joy.