We got the fantastic opportunity to speak with the lovely and talented Paige O’Hara who voices the character Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” In honor of the movie being released from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment to Disney Diamond Edition Blu-ray and DVD today you can read our interview with Paige below.
You’re so talented, between singing, acting and your artwork, when did you first know you wanted to be in the entertainment business?
“I actually started acting when I was four years old. I went to acting class in Florida. I was always singing and dancing around the living room with my mom, but I figured out at 12-years-old that I could really sing and I started studying and went to performing arts high school.”
Did you audition for the role of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”?
“Yes, I was actually working in New York as a Broadway actress at the time and they were really looking for Broadway performers. I had read about [the movie] in the Times and my agent got me an audition. I went through five auditions, they had 500 people up for the role.”
What was a typical day like working on the movie?
“We would go in around 10am and we would record for a couple hours and then take a break and listen to the playbacks, and they would video tape us all day long so they could draw our characters.”
How long did you work on the movie?
“Off and on for two years. We would record for a few weeks, and the animators would go away for a few months, and then we would go back in the studio and they’d make changes. Disney was really committed to making this film perfect.”
What was your favorite part of working on “Beauty and the Beast”?
“Working with the whole group because it was such an ensemble effort. I loved recording with Robby Benson [The Beast]. We had so much fun, the chemistry we had together, and all working with Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who were the Rodgers and Hammerstein of that era, I was really honored to be working with the entire group. It was really an amazing experience.”
What are some of your favorite scenes in “Beauty and the Beast”?
“I love the opening Belle sequence. I think my favorite sequence is the ‘Something There’ when Belle and the Beast are in the snow and the bird jumps on his paw to eat out of his paw and Belle jumps behind the tree, and that’s the moment she realizes. And I always like when I tell him off after!”
Which are your three favorite “Beauty and the Beast” characters?
“The Beast, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere.”
What is the biggest difference between working on “Beauty and the Beast” and working on stage productions?
“Really the biggest adjustment I had to make was my voice, and with this they wanted Belle and Beast to be very real, very natural. Robby Benson was the only one that could really pull of the intimate part that they found. You’re recording [the movie] like you’re shooting a film, the style of acting is much more subtle.”
What is it like working with Disney on your new collection “Belles by Belle”?
“I’m in the car right now to sign a bunch of paintings, 200 to be exact. About a year and a half ago I went to one of the Disney Fine Arts artists and he was doing a special show and he said to bring one of the ‘Bells by Belle’ paintings, and it sold right away, and the president of Disney Fine Arts happened to be there!”
What is your favorite Disney movie of all time?
“‘Mary Poppins’, and of course ‘Beauty and the Beast.'”
Also be sure to read our interview with Don Hahn, the producer of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”