Is it Beauty and the Beast? Or Beauty and the Beauty?
One look at the promo material for The CW's Beauty and Beast — a remake (starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan) of the 1987 series — and it's clear that the titular beast is not the hirsute horror of yore. Ryan, whose non-beast alter ego is Vincent Keller, sports nothing more than a scar on his face to signify the monster within.
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"When Sherri [Cooper, co-executive producer] and I were first thinking about this, we thought about the beasts in our lives and most of the beasts in our lives don't look like an actual beast," co-executive producer Jennifer Levin explained at The CW's Television Critics Association fall TV previews Monday. "They are sometimes charming; there's something that draws us to them. What happens when you do fall in love with a beast? We related to [that] much more than having somebody who was obviously beastly from the outside; it's more beastliness that's on the inside."
She quipped: "They don't look exactly like Jay, but..."
Cooper and Levin shot down suggestions that the youth-skewing, pretty people-populated CW pressured them to keep Ryan easy on the eyes. "Not at all," Cooper said. "We came from a grounding perspective. We fell in love with the idea of a super-soldier-gone-bad."
Ryan likens his role to another dual character: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "It's almost like two people inside this one character," he said. "The beast is more like a serial killer and Vincent is trying to suppress him throughout. You don't get a lot of that in the pilot, but as we go along, it will become more apparent and the beast will become much more dangerous."
As the beast becomes "beastlier," the show will explore the reasons why, including if he's developing feelings for Catherine Chandler (Kreuk), a cop, or if he's hiding something deeper within. But Cooper and Levin are very conscious of making sure not to portray Catherine and Vincent's relationship as an abusive one. "There is this moral code underneath it and we're careful to not cross that," Cooper said. "There's that fine line. ... [But] he's not attacking her [when he's a beast]."
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Cooper and Levin chose to remake the '80s series because they were huge fans of the original, which starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Though Perlman claimed last week at TCAs that he was unaware of the reboot, Hamilton gave Kreuk and Ryan a seal of approval, sending them notes and photos on their first day of shooting.
"She signed photos for us. It was unexpected and surprising and wonderful," Kreuk said. "It was really nice for her to know what we're doing and wishing us well."
Beauty and the Beast premieres Thursday, Oct. 11 at 9/8c on The CW.
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