Hi, We are actors who voiced Belle and Gaston in Walt Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast. Ask us anything.
Paige O’Hara - In addition to her acting work for Disney Animation, Paige’s career began on Broadway and includes lots of opera, concerts and recordings. She is also a talented artist whose oil paintings are available from the Disney Fine Art Collectors Editions
Richard White – While perhaps best known to Disney fans the world over for voicing Gaston, Richard is has also appeared on Broadway and in Opera. Most recently he starred as Sir Danvers Carew in the national tour and Broadway revival of Jekyll and Hyde.
*NOTE: Robby Benson is feeling a bit under the weather and unable to participate. He sends his apologies.
Here’s Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOjJk6vW2jM
Walt Disney Pictures’ magical animated classic “Beauty and the Beast” broke new ground as the first animated feature film to receive an Academy Award® nomination, and twenty-five years later audiences of all ages continue to fall in love with this enchanting tale, its captivating characters and unforgettable, award-winning music score and original song, “Beauty and the Beast.”
In honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, this “tale as old as time” is now available as a Walt Disney Signature Collection Edition on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere.
FROM PAIGE AND RICHARD: Thank you for all the great questions today! Hope to talk to chat with you all again soon! Enjoy the new Blu-ray and the wonderful new bonus features - available right now!
Paige: Yes, it's happened on the phone and in the grocery store. LOL
Haha, I'm sure the next question naturally is to say something from the film?
Paige: Yes, I always say, "Gaston, you're positively primeval!"
Richard: Yes it's rather disconcerting at times! ;)
Do you guys still remember all of your lines?
Cause I totally have all of your lines memorized haha
Paige: haha, good for you! LOL. They come and go at my age.
If you had to get turned into an object and live in the Beasts castle what would you, and wouldn't you, want to be turned into?
Richard: Obviously, a portrait of Gaston
How did chip end up chipped?
Paige: I don't know, that's a great questions and one I've never gotten before. I'm going to make some inquiries!
How long does it take to voice an entire movie? On average, how many takes did you need for one scene?
Paige: We can record the movie entirely in one day. However, it was constantly changing and the animators would draw from us for a few months and then we'd return. Sometimes there were new lines. The whole film took four years to make and the voice actors worked on it for two and half years.
Richard White: Have you met Gaston at Disney World by his tavern? If yes, what do you think of him?
Richard: How could Gaston meet Gaston? I have seen some on YouTube and am very pleased by how faithfully they represent me.
Oh my glob, so many questions.
Is every last inch of you covered with hair?
Are you especially good at expectorating?
Richard: of course... I was the hair model (not really) But I am ESPECIALLY good at expectorating!
How do you guys feel about the theory going around that Belle was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and wasn't actually in love with her kidnapper?
Richard: That was just a theory? How else could you explain not falling for Gaston?!
Paige: Trust me, she fell in love with the Beast and I know the moment it happened.
What moment was that?
Paige: In the scene in the snow, when the little bird jumps on Beast's paw, he grins and Belle runs behind the tree realizing she's falling in love.
My wife claims that Beauty And The Beast is her favorite movie of all time! A question for either or both of you, is there any part of your voice work for this classic that, looking back, you wished you would have voiced a little differently?
Richard: Over two and half years, we had so many opportunities to edit and reconsider that we're all very satisfied with the final version, I think.
Paige: I agree totally with Richard.
Isn't it the best playing the bad guy? Gaston seems like a character that would be fun to voice.
Richard: Yes indeed! The villain is often the most interesting character in a story. They have an agenda and they go to great lengths to achieve it. Gaston is also a wonderfully comedic character. I have a ball doing him!
What do I need to do to be strong like Gaston? Do you think I could get there by doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10km run every single day?
Richard: That would be a fine start, however, there is a limit to what a mere mortal might accomplish.
First of all, I was 4 when I first saw the film. And I related to Belle so much because she didn't quite fit in. So, thank you for bring to life such a beautiful character that made me come out of my shell and to treat others with kindness. Now for me question: How did you relate to your characters and make them so personable?
Paige: It was the only role in my career, that was so close to my own personality...that directors and Howard kept encouraging me to let my wall down and let Paige come through. A challenge at first, and then a blessing in disguise. Thanks for the compliment!
The question I've been dying to ask since I was a little bookworm of a girl:
What sorts of books would Belle have in her library? (Does she prefer novels, histories, biographies? Does she have a favorite novel?)
Paige: Belle would have all of them. She loved adventure novels, especially ones she could escape into and imagine herself as a part of them. Belle's favorite play is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
MY favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird. Check out James Patterson's Maximum Ride books. Young female heroine who flies! Great escape novels.
What is your favorite line/song that was not used by your character?
Paige: "Flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep". Ha, David Ogden Stiers is the funniest!
Richard: "Gaston, you're positively primeval"
Is the "Gaston" song the most manly thing you've ever been a part of?
It is probably my favorite Disney or musical song of all time. Never fails to make me smile.
Richard: Yes, but singing "Stout-hearted Men" on the stage of City Opera came in at a close second.
Sometimes there are qualities to a character that aren't written precisely on the page but are key to making a character feel real. What characteristics did you feel were important to bring to your performances that may not have been initially obvious?
Paige: Because they are videotaping us, they will capture our expressions. Many of those are in the film of all of the actors.
The stroke of the strand of hair was certainly me!
Richard: We had the advantage of having Howard Ashman in the room most of the time. He had such clear vision and communicated it so clearly that I always had good idea of what we were going for. Gaston's humor, we found in the doing perhaps more than on the page.
How do you feel about the new live action film?
Paige: Really excited. I think Emma is the perfect choice for Belle.
How do you view the legacy of Beauty and the Beast?
Paige: What an amazing gift this has been. And how wonderful generations of children will be enjoying this film many years after I am gone.
How many eggs would you each say you actually eat in a day?
Richard: 2 egg whites on dry toast.
Paige: A dozen. Just kidding! Two a day suffices.
Richard, what are your thoughts on the Gaston that has been in so many popular videos online? Do you have a favorite? Mine is when Gaston shows up a young man who decides to challenge him to a pushup contest.
Richard: Those guys are amazing. They bring such charm to their roles while remaining true to the heart of Gaston.
How were you both cast for the movie? Were they like, "Hey we're doing a movie based in France about a mansion filled with talking furniture and there's a rose and a beauty and a beast."
Richard: We were tape recorded and the tapes were sent to California for a nationwide, blind search. You just can't hide Gaston under a bushel basket....
Paige: It was written as a broadway musical film. They searched for broadway actors/singers and wound up using all major characters that were broadway veterans. I had five auditions. Talking furniture was pretty clever, agreed!
Paige: How familiar are you with the Kingdom Hearts video games? I think you reprised Belle in Kingdom Hearts 2, right?
Also, I think you're the best Disney voice I've heard and Something There is one of my favorite songs. Thanks for the memories!
Paige: Thank you so much for that! Kingdom Hearts was a lot of fun. Wish I could have done more.
Beauty and the Beast is our family's favorite Disney movie, great job.
My question: when you were making the movie, did you realize that you were involved in something special that would become a Disney classic much like Snow White or Cinderella?
Also, are you enjoying the association of being in the movie in your personal lives and how so?
Paige: It changed my life. We knew from the beginning the writing was wonderful and after working on it for the first year, we realized this is going to be a classic. A truly great blessing to voice this part.
Gaston's worst quality was that he was kind of an arrogant dick who wouldn't take no for an answer. From an objective point of view, at the end of the movie he was trying to kill a horrible monster that'd kidnapped a girl. Do you think he deserved to die for this?
Richard: Who said he died??! Did you ever see a body? I feel certain that he simply bumped his head and will be resurfacing in a spinoff at a theatre near you sometime soon.
When you were doing the recordings, are you actually in the same sound stage, or do you have to pretend that the other person is there?
Richard: as a rule, voice work is done alone in a booth, but in our case, Paige was able to talk them into allowing us to react to one another while we were recording. We feel that helped a great deal in establishing relationships between the characters.
Hi! Beauty and the Beast is my all time favourite Disney movie (even got a tattoo chest piece dedicated to it albeit without the disney look) so super excited to read the coming questions/answers!
What was your favourite scene to record and what are your generally favourite scenes in the movie?
Paige: I love the "Something There" sequence. I love yelling at the Beast when I'm nursing his paw, and of course, the magical ballroom scene.
Richard: I have to say, I find that the opening sequence is thrilling. Curiously, it was nearly discarded by Howard Ashman as being too long as an opening number. I especially love the ballroom scene and the storm at the end of the movie.
Hi Paige, who would win in a fight…Belle or Ariel?
Richard: Belle for sure. Paige agrees. She's actually quite accomplished in martial arts. No. Really! Seriously! No kidding
Robby Benson was a mentor to my best friend in college, he sends his well wishes to Robby.
What do you guys think about Hamilton? It's the hot thing right now. Lin-Manuel Miranda is hot right now. Thoughts?
Paige: My husband and I saw it last night. I've never seen Michael tear up as much as he did last night for Hamilton. It's magnificent piece of theater!
Have either of you ever had an interaction with your costumed counterparts at a Disney Park, without them knowing who you were, and how did that go?
When you recorded your roles, were you secluded from other members of the cast or did you ever get to record with them in the room as well?
Paige: Actually that has never happened, I think they know as soon as I walk in that it's me in the park. There was one girl who was a Belle character in the park who wanted to meet me and when we went to her boss's office for us to meet, she wouldn't come out of her Belle character! Finally she looked at her boss, and he told her it was ok to step out of character it was very sweet.
For recording, fortunately Robby, Richard and I all recorded together. Not the norm.
Richard: They know as soon as you walk in!
Thanks for doing the AMA! If you could choose another Disney movie to have done some voice work on, which movie would both of you choose?
Paige: It was before my time, but I would love to have voiced Bambi's mother.
What's the secret to imbuing a voice with character and humanity?
Paige: You must be totally sincere and real at all times. The microphone picks up everything. I treated it as if I were shooting an on-camera film.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Paige: Ginnifer Goodwin. Love her!
Richard, any memories from the star-studded Evening with Alan Jay Lerner?
Richard: OMG, YES! Thank you for remembering it. Robert Goulet, Hal Linden, John Cullum, and I shared a dressing room. Being a fly on that wall was unforgettable. I also met Julie Andrews. I was so happy to be asked to honor Alan in that way.
Any film voice performance that you regard highly, as experienced voice performers yourself? Who is the Brando of voice acting?
Paige: Jodi Benson is brilliant at it. Also, Jessie Corti (LeFou) is extremely versatile.
Hello, welcome to Reddit!
My question, for both of you, is what Disney films have you enjoyed besides BatB?
Paige: Fave of all time: Mary Poppins. Other favorites: Bambi, Snow White and Mulan
Did you ever see Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast? Were you delighted that Disney was able to capture so much of the tone/feel of the film in the animation? (I was.)
Paige: Yes, I loved it. The hardest challenge for the writers was creating a story around Belle and Beast as the Cocteau version was basically them going to dinner. Geniuses!
Richard: I certainly did. I remember it well as a child and have loved it ever since. My daughter became familiar with it at the age of 5 while I was working on this film. She loves it too, to this day.
What was it like being on stage at Alice Tully Hall for the Anniversary screening?
Richard: It was a wonderful evening and surprisingly emotional. We had done a similar event in LA for the Academy, but this one was special. Since the film was first screened here in NY 25 years ago, it was more poignant.
Paige: It was extremely emotional and exhilarating at the same time.
Did you guys ever visit the Be Our Guest restaurant in Disneyworld? What did you think?
Richard: Not yet....
Do you guys ever just randomly quote your old lines? If so, how often!?
Paige: Not often, however, the "Positively primeval" line comes up now and then.
Hi Richard, the character Gaston looks a bit like Schwarzenegger: big muscles, a warrior and lots of confidence. Do you work out much yourself to build muscles? Or what do you do to stay fit?
Richard: Actually, Schwarzenegger looks a bit like Gaston. They are both constantly pestering me for my work out tips.
Are you especially good at expectorating?
Paige: Patooie! Richard is!
Paige. You voiced my favorite Disney princess! Thank you for the memories. I currently have "Something There" now in my head.
Silly question but have you been to Disney World / Land lately? What's your favorite ride?
Paige: My favorite ride my whole life has been Peter Pan. I was so thrilled when my friend Rob Marshall, the big star director now, said it was his favorite too! Stomach can't handle the rollercoasters. Also love Soaring.
Who fights like Gaston?
Richard: No one....Duh!
Have you ever impression Belle/Gaston to your kids?
Richard: My daughter was 4 when I began working on the movie, so she saw the role develop and all of the steps leading up to his creation. She probably knows the show better than I do.
Hi paige and Richard, huge fan of you both. I have a question for richard. Is it true that you were considered to be the voice of governor ratcliffe in pocahontas?
Richard: Not to my knowledge although I've heard that rumor before.
What is it like to have voiced two of the most iconic Disney characters?
And for Richard, what was it like to perform on stage in Jekyll and Hyde?
And another one for Richard, is it true that you ate 4 dozen eggs every morning when you were young? And 5 dozen now that you're grown?
Richard: To carry the legacy of a Disney villain is both an honor and a pleasure. Performing on stage is what I do most of the time and I love it. Jekyll and Hyde is almost a cult piece. The Frank Wildhorn music is wonderful and great to get to sing. In addition to two egg whites on dry toast, I splurge on weak tea.
Favorite Disney movie other than Beauty and the Beast?
Richard: Snow White
Thank you for doing an AMA!
What was the best part about working on a Disney production?
Paige: It sounds corny, but the Disney organization has truly treated me as part of the family. They're incredibly loyal and I greatly admire their perfectionism.
In your opinions, who were the best Belle and Gaston in any major live stage production?
Paige: Love Susan Egan's Belle. And of course, my husband Michael Piontek in the LA production.
What did you guys think of Jerry Orbach?
Richard: Jerry and his wife were good friends and remained so until they died. Jerry originated so many wonderful Broadway shows that I have privileged to go on and do. He was a sweet, humble guy as well. We shared a dressing room at the Oscars and became good friends thereafter.
Paige: Jerry was a very dear person. A great broadway actor and singer. Such a privilege to get to know him and work with him. He's greatly missed by millions of fans, and me of course.
Is a hotdog in a hotdog bun a kind of sandwich? Why or why not?
Bonus question: what about a hotdog between two regular ol' pieces of bread?
Richard: Yes it is a sandwich...
Oh wow. Gotta say I grew up listening to beauty and the beast, so thank you so much for such amazing work. It really comes across that you both put your heart into it.
I've a question for Richard since I'm also a massive Jekyll and Hyde fan (sorry Page) what would you're favorite bit in the show be?
Richard: Probably Jekyll's transformation. Actually I've done another version of that story composed by Phil Hall where Jekyll and Hyde were played by myself and Marc Kudisch.
do you think i could be the voice of the little teacup or is it too late for that?
Richard: Brad Pierce did such a wonderful job I'm afraid the role is taken.
Do people ever recognize your voices without being told who you played?
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