Anyone who remembers the 1987 TV version of Beauty and the Beast, won’t recognize The CW’s reimagining of the story, premiering next month, which unfolds more like a variation of ‘The Hulk.’
Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) portrays Catherine ‘Cat’ Chandler, a no-nonsense homicide detective who, as a teenager, witnessed her mother’s murder by two gunmen. She herself would have been killed too if not for an animal-like being who attacked the assailants.
Years later, while investigating a new case, Cat discovers fingerprints that lead her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan, Terra Nova) who was reportedly killed in Afghanistan in 2002, forced now to live in secrecy because when he becomes enraged he turns into an uncontrollable beast – he is also the person who saved Cat’s life the night her mother died.
Jay Ryan, who plays Vincent, spoke at the TV Critics tour about the re-envisioning of the classic tale.
What is your reference to the Beauty and the Beast story, the Disney movie or the TV series with Ron Perlman?
For me it was the ’80s series because it was a big show in New Zealand, where I grew up. I used to watch it every afternoon after school.
I was a big fan of Ron Perlman’s work, so it’s an honor to recreate that [role.]
I was really interested to read the reimagining that the writers had when I got the pilot.
Can you talk about playing the different aspects of Vincent?
I’ve based this role on his genetic makeup.
He has DNA from many different animals, so I’ve researched all the strongest elements, from the vision of a hawk to the strength of a tiger.
That’s where the physical aspect of the role comes from.
I really want to push the boundaries of the beast throughout the series in terms of how far can he jump and how high?
I want to work with all those super-senses, as the writers have done a really great job of having the audience see, feel and hear as Vincent does.
What is it like working with the prosthetics?
It’s a four-hour long haul in a chair with two makeup artists. We’re still working on the beast’s look.
The idea is less is more, so we have room to move in the series and develop his look, and as he becomes beastlier, who knows?
What’s under his clothes? Has he got scars from other beasts?
By the time you’re in makeup are you in a beastly mood?
When I have the beast makeup on, I actually become more of a comedian, otherwise people don’t talk to me, I look so hideous.
I’m sure everyone is waiting for the romance to develop between Vincent and Catherine.
He’s in hiding, and in this technological world, they can’t use cell phones.
So they have to do this Shakespearean sort of courting, writing notes and secret whispers, which I think is lovely to put on TV now.