Next spring, Disney will be ushering Beauty and the Beast into their growing chain of live-action re-imaginings of their classic animated films, following Cinderella and The Jungle Book. But while the latest trailer leaned hard into the iconography we know from the groundbreaking and gorgeous 1991 film, this fairy tale’s Belle, Emma Watson, has been eager to share one smart distinction between the two.
This time around, Belle’s not just a bookworm. She’s an engineer.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming adventure, Watson revealed:
“In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle. I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
This slight change is a great way to make Belle a modern role model for girls, urging them into the STEM fields that are currently boys’ clubs. And considering how my generation clung to Belle as a symbol of nerd girl pride, the impact of this inspiration could be huge. Props to Disney for using a big-budget princess movie to push for progress. But here’s hoping Belle gets to build more exciting than a washing machine.
Beauty and the Beast opens March 17th, 2017.