Josh Gad Says He Fought For This 1 Controversial Thing in ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Josh Gad, best known as the voice of Olaf, is enjoying phenomenal success with the record-breaking opening of Frozen 2, which has already grossed more than $300 million in the United States and $750 million worldwide after less than two weeks in release.
However, the snowman who likes warm hugs is not Gad’s only Disney claim to fame. He made headlines two years ago playing LeFou, the goofy sidekick of Gaston, as a gay man.
He insisted on the portrayal, but some people thought the gesture didn’t move the needle much in terms of acceptance in homosexuality.
Who was LeFou?
While James Bond’s henchmen tend to be strong characters that are often more threatening than the main villains (think Oddjob vs. Goldfinger) from that 1964 movie, Disney’s “bad guy” sidekicks tend to be buffoons who get laughs for their comic incompetence rather than being threatening themselves. Think Cinderella’s stepsisters vs. the actually nefariously evil stepmother.
LeFou followed in that tradition, being the lackey of Gaston. LeFou usually backs his boorish superior, although in the 1991 animated movie, he’s not above knocking him down a peg or two.
Gaston : It’s like this: I’ve got my heart set on marrying Belle, but she needs a little persuasion.
LeFou : [chuckles] Turned him down flat.
[Gaston hits him]
Gaston : Everyone knows her father’s a lunatic. He was in here tonight, raving about a beast in a castle.
Monsieur D’Arque : Maurice is harmless.
Gaston : The point is, Belle would do anything to keep him from being locked up.
LeFou : Yeah, even marry him.
In the end, LeFou ends up running away with the mob of townspeople after the enchanted objects of the Beast’s castle fend off their invasion.
What happened in the 2017 version:?
The 2017 remake played out quite differently. In an interview quoted by Screen Rant, Gad said:
“Here’s what we decided, we decided that LeFou’s happy ending would be to dance with another man… It was my pitch, that’s how I really wanted the movie to end… I was so amazed they let us do it… That became such a controversial thing, apparently, even though it was only three seconds of screen time. We never put a spotlight on it. We never meant to put a spotlight on it. It became a conflated, weird controversy.”
Disney had never explicitly made any of its characters gay before, although the company had been known to be friendly to that community. Howard Ashman, the lyricist of Beauty and the Beast, was a gay man who died in 1991 before he could see the finished film, which was dedicated to his memory.
Nevertheless, Gad’s idea made headlines because some theaters refused to play the movie, and there was talk that it would be banned in Russia. Nevertheless, the movie was a global hit, making $1.2 billion worldwide, including $14 million from Russia.
Not everyone thought Gad’s idea was enough
Although Gad’s intentions were noble, some though the gesture was so small, amounting to a two-second shot of LeFou dancing with another man, that it ultimately didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. YouTube video essayist Lindsay Ellis gained attention for her “Thanks I hate it” take on the remake, saying;
“A lot of people were very validly annoyed that this was the best that we could get for the first out gay in a Disney movie,” she said, noting that they gave it to the character whose name literally translated means, “the fool.” In that context, she argues, it’s not much of a milestone.
Still, Gad argues that up is a good place to go, stating that he hoped Disney would find more ways to represent the LGBTQ community in the future.
Some have argued that over on the Marvel side, Captain Marvel’s relationship between Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau can be read as lesbian, but again, the connection wasn’t made explicit.
At the very least, Tessa Thompson declared that her Thor: Ragnarok character Valkyrie was gay. Now Marvel/Disney just has to act on it.