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Casting Call: Who Should Star in 'Beauty and the Beast'?

Casting Call: Who Should Star in 'Beauty and the Beast'?

With Maleficent enchanting the box office, Disney has announced that it's moving forward with another live-action fairy tale adaptation: Beauty and the Beast. Like Maleficent, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and Kenneth Branagh's upcoming Cinderella, this new Beauty and the Beast is likely to put a fresh spin on the familiar story while borrowing elements from Disney's classic animated version. The director helming the project is Bill Condon, and while we don't know for sure that it will be a musical, Condon's resume – which includes Dreamgirls and the Chicago screenplay – suggests it's a possibility. With that in mind, here are our top choices for the two lead roles in Disney's tale as old as time.

BEAUTY

Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick
Why She'd Be a Swell Belle:
No other actress under 30 can boast an Oscar nomination and a Billboard Top 10 single. Anna Kendrick even has experience re-inventing Disney heroines: She's playing Cinderella in Into the Woods, and she rapped convincingly as the mermaid Ariel on Saturday Night Live. Plus, Condon has already worked with her on the Twilight films.
Why She Might Be Cursed: Kendrick is so in-demand for musicals that she's vowed to stop doing them. "I never want to sing again, honestly," she said in February. Pitch Perfect 2 may be her swan song.

Cristin Milioti

Cristin Milioti
Why She'd Be a Swell Belle:
Milioti's star has been rising steadily since her 2012 Tony nomination for the musical Once. The 28-year-old actress played Leonardo DiCaprio's first wife in The Wolf of Wall Street ,and gained a fan following as the long-awaited title character in the final season of How I Met Your Mother.
Why She Might Be Cursed: Her new comedy series A to Z premieres on NBC this fall. If the show's a hit, taking time off to shoot an epic fantasy may be out of the question.

Patina Miller

Patina Miller
Why She'd Be a Swell Belle:
Movie audiences may not know her, but Bill Condon does: She nearly bested Jennifer Hudson for the role of Effie in Dreamgirls. Miller, 29, is a Tony nominee for the Sister Act musical and a Tony winner for Broadway's Pippin. She'll make her film debut as Commander Paylor in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2.
Why She Might Be Cursed: She lacks film experience, and while we'd like to think Disney would cast an African-American princess, we all know how often that's happened.

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell
Why She'd Be a Swell Belle:
Obviously, she already is a swell Bell. One of the most likeable people in Hollywood, the House of Lies star honed her princess chops last year as the voice of Anna in Frozen.
Why She Might Be Cursed: She'll be 34 in a month, which may narrowly eliminate her from the ingénue category. Her filmography also puts her in a tricky spot; though she's been a leading lady on TV for years, she hasn't proven that she can carry a big movie.

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway
Why She'd Be a Swell Belle:
Love her or hate her, you know she has the talent. Hathaway easily nabbed the best supporting actress Oscar for Les Misérables on the basis of one knockout musical number. Who's to say she couldn't do it again?
Why She Might Be Cursed: Hathaway launched her career with The Princess Diaries; at age 31, her returning to Disney's favorite genre might be awkward for everyone.

BEAST

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
Hollywood's A-list has its share of half-decent singers (Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix), but Hugh Jackman is the only leading man among them with serious Broadway credentials. After his Oscar-nominated performance in Les Misérables, he'll be on the top of any musical producer's list.
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: He's currently shooting the role of Blackbeard in Pan, Warner Bros.' Peter Pan prequel. Adding another revisionist fairy tale to his résumé might not appeal to Jackman. Then there's the age factor; at 45, he's already playing more father figures than romantic heroes. 

Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
The 24-year-old Brit is a mesmerizing actor and a certified teen heartthrob, dating Kristen Stewart onscreen (in the upcoming Equals) and Jennifer Lawrence in real life. He sang on the U.K. series Skins as a teenager, and he even has Beast experience, having played the furry Hank McCoy in the recent X-Men films.
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: Hoult is rapidly ascending the ranks of leading men, which means he's already heavily booked: He's appearing in Mad Max: Fury Road and the Gillian Flynn adaptation Dark Places, among others. Also his experience playing the titular role in Jack the Giant Slayer, a long-delayed Warner Bros. film that bombed in 2013, may have soured him on fairy tales.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
If any actor should be making the leap into musicals, it's Levitt, 33, who has shown off his song-and-dance skills everywhere except the big screen. (Do a search for "Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing" if you ever want to kill a few hours.)
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: This is just the kind of big studio picture that Gordon-Levitt routinely turns down. He reportedly passed on lead roles in Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy , and Justice League. The role of Beast would have to be unusually compelling – or directed by one of his frequent collaborators, like Christopher Nolan – to reel him in.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
Thanks to 12 Years a Slave, Ejiofor, 36, has been cemented as one of the greatest actors of his generation. But he's also the charmer who married Keira Knightley in Love Actually and belted out songs in drag for Kinky Boots. No doubt his performance as an emotionally tortured fairy-tale monster would be unforgettable.
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: Ejiofor is a big star abroad, but less so in America. He'd be an out-of-the-box choice, and at the moment, he seems more interested in dramatic roles than crowd pleasers.

Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
This award-winning Broadway actor may not be a movie star, but he certainly looks like one. Tveit, 30, stole all of his scenes in the film version of Les Misérables as student revolutionary Enjolras, and has a healthy fandom among the Tumblr crowd.
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: Tveit is currently starring in the USA Network series Graceland, but in the film world, he's still considered a supporting player.

Ron Perlman in CBS television's Beauty and the Beast

Ron Perlman
Why He's a Charmed Choice:
The Sons of Anarchy star played the role for three seasons on CBS in the '80s, and he probably still has the wig in a closet somewhere.
Why Casting Him Might Be a Beast: Two words: Hellboy 3.

Photo credits: Disney; Jerod Harris/Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Bryan Bedder/Getty Images; Monica Schipper/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Getty Images;Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images; Michael Buckner/Getty Images; Everett)