Josh Gad had a lot of trouble with a not-so-friendly beast, and it wasn’t the one he expected.
Playing Gaston’s loyal – and in this incarnation, somewhat besotted – compatriot/toady LeFou in Disney’s live action adaptation of its 26-year-old bona fide animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” Gad was prepared to contend with a surly and powerful creature, but he didn’t plan on it being the horse he was expected to ride in on.
During a recent press conference for the film, Gad regaled journalists with his less than idyllic chemistry with his four-legged co-star, and the even more daunting task of measuring up to a film that loomed large in his own childhood.
On his relationship with one of his steed:
Josh Gad: learned a couple of great lessons on this movie. One of which is that Jews don’t belong on the horse – specifically overweight Jews. My horse was an anti-Semite. Interestingly enough, they would call “Action,” and the horse that they told me was trained for this movie, but I believe they found it in the wilds of [inaudible],
[In] our first entrance into the village of Villeneuve, Luke [Evans] and I are riding into the village on our horses, and on “Action,” all our horses need to do is walk side by side. It’s so simple. Luke’s horse does it. The two of them worked on “The Hobbit” together. They had this incredible background. They share a trailer.
Mine was a cold-blooded killer. He proceeded to moonwalk. He walked backwards. Then, he ran through multiple extras. I didn’t even know it was possible, but ran through these, like, pillars, around, up and back. I heard cut, and I heard laughing. And the laughing was coming from the horse’s trainer. He came up to me and he goes, “I’m so sorry! I’ve never seen this happen before.”
And it was so sad. He made me feel so awful about myself. Ironically, my horse’s name was Buddy. He was nobody’s buddy. I’m begging Disney to press charges against him. I told my agents to never send me another script with a horse in it. Unless it’s on wheels. In the sequel to “Beauty and the Beast,” I drive a DeLorean.
On living up to the high expectations associated with the animated classic:
I remember first getting the call. I immediately flashbacked to being a kid. I was ten years old, 1991, and I saw the movie in a small theater in south Florida. I remember that the response was something I had never seen before, which was audiences applauding after these animated characters were singing these songs. It was very unusual. Prior to that, “The Great Mouse Detective” didn’t have much applause for the songs, and “Black Cauldron” certainly did not.
What Ashman and Menken brought to the Disney library was harking back to a time of the Sherman Brothers, of the early days of Disney. For us, that was so a part of our childhood. “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Mermaid,” and “Aladdin,” I cannot tell you how important that was. So I got nauseous. I was like, how am I going to bring a song like “Gaston” to life?
And I went into my office, and I started singing it, and I literally started choking up. Because you cut to like yourself as a kid, you think back to yourself as a kid. You’re like, oh my God, I’m doing this. I’m doing this for real, and I’m going to be the version that a lot of kids are going to see. It was such a thrill.
My kids walked into the office, and were so tickled that daddy was singing this song that they know so well. And I thought to myself, ‘This is going to work. This is going to work, we’re going to work at it, but we’re going to make it our own.”
It was that first day that we did the table read, and I remember watching Luke perform the choreography for “Gaston.” Took me a little longer to get it. Emma [Watson] performing, and Emma Thompson performing the song, of course Audra [McDonald], singing is like for a private concert. and all of these pieces coming together before our eyes.
I don’t think there was a single one of us who didn’t have goosebumps. That is the stuff that dreams are made of.