- Belle’s early look in “Beauty and the Beast” was considered too glamorous to be relatable.
- In “Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara,” voice actor Paige O’Hara compared early concept art to Angelina Jolie.
- Belle was described as looking “a little too perfect.” Animators changed her appearance accordingly.
Early concept art of Belle, from Disney’s Oscar-winning “Beauty and the Beast” was originally considered too beautiful.
According to a new book called “Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara” by Emily Zemler, the Disney princess’ look was adjusted early on in conception to make her less “glamorous” and more relatable.
“Original concept art for Belle shows her as a glamorous woman, but the animators quickly adapted the character’s look to ensure viewers could connect to her,” reads the book, which is out now.
“She kind of looked like Angelina Jolie — very beautiful,” Paige O’Hara, who voiced Belle, said in the book, which looks at the history of every Disney princess and their impact on pop culture.
A team of animators, including James Baxter and Mark Henn, designed Belle. In the book, Baxter says they tried to give Belle a more European look “with fuller lips, a little bit darker eyebrows, and slightly smaller eyes” than Princess Ariel from 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Early sketches of Belle by Alyson Hamilton show the character in a pink gown with soft makeup and curled hair, tied up.
“I didn’t see how anybody would identify with that person,” O’Hara said of Belle’s original concept. “You’d look at her and put her on a pedestal. Mark and James changed the look of her. She was a little too perfect.”
“I knew that this was going to change the view of Disney Princesses. Belle was the first one not looking for a man. She wanted to see the world and all the places she’d read about in books,” O’Hara added.
Disney animators evolved Belle’s look to what it is now to make sure that she was someone who viewers could connect with when they saw the film.
According to the book, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Natalie Wood all inspired the look and feel of Belle in the 1991 film.
O’Hara also served as an influence on Belle’s final look.