It’s a timeless love story about two straight people.
Well, a woman and a large, aggressive animal, who we’re nevertheless sure is heterosexual.
And yet, there’s something universal about Gabrielle
The themes – looking past appearances, the transformative power of love – are irresistibly sweeping.
And indeed this year, the 1740 text is once again adapted for the big screen by Disney.
Except of course, this time, Beauty and the Beast will be a live-action movie, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast.
Emma takes on the iconic role of the the innocent maiden, imprisoned by a savage monster in his enchanted castle in the place of her father.
Now, ahead of its March release – and in honor of its universality – we’re shifting the spotlight a little.
Here are just four gay actors and artists who you may or may not know have made major contributions to this year’s biggest film…
Luke Evans as Gaston
He’s starred in hits including Dracula Untold and The Girl On the Train.
But British actor Luke Evans has landed his highest profile role yet as the Beast’s love rival: the arrogant Gaston.
Luke makes no secret of the fact he is gay, although he doesn’t tend to talk about his relationships in interviews, so fewer people are aware of his sexuality than you might expect.
‘I don’t blast it from the rooftops because I’m a very private person,’ he told The Guardian last year. ‘And it doesn’t affect anything. But it’s life. This is who I am as Luke.’
Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth
He’s already appeared in numerous blockbusters – the X-Men and Lord of the Rings franchises to name but a few.
Now Sir Ian, possibly the world’s best-loved gay actor, is to play Cogsworth, the talking clock.
Sir Ian came out as gay in 1989, at the age of 49. Since then, through his work with Stonewall and beyond, he’s become one of the world’s most powerful champions of LGBTI rights.
And back to those not-so-inanimate household objects – Ewan McGregor is Lumiere, Emma Thompson is Mrs. Potts (previously voiced by Angela Lansbury), while Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who played a bisexual woman to great critical acclaim in Black Mirror’s San Junipero, is Plumette, the feather duster!
Director Bill Condon
Now to perhaps the most important role of the film – albeit one that involves being squarely behind the camera.
Bill Condon, the man at the helm of 2017’s most anticipated movie, has already scored massive hits with Dreamgirls and two Twilight films.
He’s also directed Sir Ian in the past; in 2015’s Mr. Holmes and 1998’s Gods and Monsters.
Bill is openly gay, and once explored themes of sexuality in his 2004 biographical film of Alfred Charles Kinsey, inventor of the Kinsey scale.
The late lyricist Howard Ashman
However, if there’s one gay man who absolutely must not be overlooked as Beauty and the Beasts becomes a global talking point once again, it’s Howard Ashman.
The handsome songwriter famously penned the Academy Award-winning title track. He sadly died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, shortly before the original animated movie’s release.
Along with his music partner Alan Menken, the handsome writer was responsible for several of Disney’s most incredible songs.
These include Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast; Part of Your World, Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid, and Friend Like Me from Aladdin, used posthumously. Rest in peace, Howard – your work is amazing!