Ever since Disney cast Emma Watson as Belle in its Beauty and the Beast remake, prospective viewers have obsessed over one simple question: "Can Emma Watson actually sing?" We know because Watson and her hairy costar Dan Stevens looked up the most searched questions surrounding the live-action musical, and skepticism over her vocals popped up:
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"I can answer that she does -- she sings throughout this film," Stevens says in the above interview. "She sings a lot, fantastically." In fact, you'll find Watson listed on five of the soundtrack's songs, including "Belle," "Days in the Sun," and "Something There."
Walt Disney Pictures/YouTube
The doubt dates back to 2015, when the Harry Potter actress first addressed the starring role on social media, writing that it was "time to start some singing lessons." Facebook comment sections lit up. Beauty and the Beast was a precious property, and while Watson looked the part, sounding the part was key.
Disney wouldn't plug Watson's pipes till the end of 2016, with promo clips and song snippets tempering some of the heated reactions. Maybe she had pulled it off? Yeah, though the Mouse House would keep much of its training tactics behind closed doors. Early behind-the-scenes footage, for example, sticks to pre-takes and costar interludes:
But Disney Musical Truthers shouldn't read too much into that B-roll. While stars like Josh Gad and Audra McDonald signed onto Beauty and the Beast as Broadway veterans, Watson still came as a dedicated actress willing to throw herself into a big, belty role. No easy task, as evidenced by what she and her castmates had to say during the movie's lead-up:
- "I've never had to [sing] for a film role before, and I think people will be interested to see me do something very different," Watson told Total Film magazine. "It gives me a different challenge, really."
- "I had three hours in a recording studio," she told Daily Mail of her audition process. "It was really raw, but [director Bill Condon] was pleased. And Disney was pleased."
- "I always had loved singing, but I took this kind of massive hiatus," she told Hollywood XYZ. "I used to sing as a child and then I made seven Harry Potter films and went to university and whatever else, so [singing for Beauty and the Beast] was sort of like dusting the cobwebs off my singing voice."
- "We prerecorded [all the songs]," Luke Evans told Collider. "But some of us sang live on set as well, during the takes. We were mic'd and they recorded that, and I think afterward, in sound, they’ll be able to chose whether the live version is better than the pre-recorded version. So we'll never know!"
- "To [sing] for the first time in a musical as big and beloved as this one, I definitely felt the pressure," she told Metro Entertainment. "Also it was such a dream come true because I absolutely loved those songs as a child, and I already knew all the lyrics before I took on the role. My love for the music carried me through it."
- "At the beginning of the movie, I was nervous to sing in front of three people," she told MTV News. "By the end, I was singing live in front of 300."
- "I was in tears. I couldn't believe that I -- after I managed to get through three months of singing lessons -- to see where I had got to," she told ITV's This Morning. "I couldn’t believe it, I was really proud."
- She also told the Daily Mail that she's going to continue taking voice lessons because "it actually really helps my acting, and my speaking voice," and "it's great for my breathing."
Aside from the promo clips, you might have already heard Watson sing a tiny bit in Noah, on this Ben Hammersley song, or in this goofy interview:
Walt Disney Pictures/YouTube
But to really hear Watson's Belle in action, you'll have to hit play on the Spotify embed above or head to your local theater. If you're still unsure after that, there's always Céline Dion.
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