Tale as old as time

Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan are the un­likely lovers and crime-fight­ing part­ners in the up­dated ver­sion of Beauty And The Beast.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By KENNETH CHAW en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

AHUSH fell over the crowd the mo­ment Beauty And The

Beast stars Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan walked into the room full of in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists at a press con­fer­ence in Los Angeles, Cal­i­for­nia.

Kreuk looked poised and con­fi­dent clad in a light, flowy beige top paired with dark bot­toms, her brunette locks tied into an el­e­gant bun and her al­mond-shaped eyes glint­ing as they roamed the crowd be­fore her — look­ing ev­ery bit the mod­ern day fairy tale char­ac­ter she por­trays.

Ryan, who fol­lowed closely be­hind Kreuk, also lived up to his role as the reimag­ined Beast of the fairy­tale clas­sic but (thank­fully) in a less creepy way.

The 1.85m-tall ac­tor looked dap­per in a three-piece navy blue suit but there was some­thing about him, per­haps the com­bi­na­tion of his tow­er­ing stature and his hard gaze that sug­gested Ryan hadn’t en­tirely left his char­ac­ter’s raw, pri­mal per­sona on the set of the TV show.

There is no doubt, then, that the ac­tors em­body their char­ac­ters well, both on- and off-screen. So it’s all the more in­ter­est­ing when a jour­nal­ist asked if there was any­thing beastly about Beauty and beau­ti­ful about the Beast, as if to throw them off guard.

“She is very driven to get jus­tice in the world, pos­si­bly to the detri­ment of all of her re­la­tion­ships. She tends to ne­glect cer­tain things in or­der to go af­ter a mis­sion. That’s a darker qual­ity of hers, not a beau­ti­ful qual­ity,” Kreuk, 31, re­sponded, be­fore look­ing to her co-star and ask­ing, “Beastly in me, Jay?”

“Six in the morn­ing at work,” Ryan quipped, send­ing a wave of laugh­ter across the room.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with the fairy­tale-themed se­ries, Beauty And

The Beast draws in­spi­ra­tion from the 1987 se­ries of the same name (which was loosely in­spired by the clas­sic fairy­tale).

In this reimag­in­ing, Beauty, played by Kreuk, is the tough, driven De­tec­tive Cather­ine Chan­dler of the New York Po­lice Depart­ment who has al­ways been puz­zled by the mys­te­ri­ous mur­der of her mother years ago and the even more mys­te­ri­ous crea­ture who res­cued her just in time.

Mean­while, the Beast comes in the form of Vin­cent Keller, an ex­sol­dier who af­ter sign­ing up for a su­per sol­dier ex­per­i­ment, takes on the mind and strength of a beast.

Though hu­man-like in ap­pear­ance, Vin­cent’s su­per­hu­man abil­i­ties sur­faces when his emo­tions are riled up, mak­ing him a reg­u­lar night-time vig­i­lante, sav­ing the lives of in­no­cent and de­fense­less New York­ers.

“Be­ing such a fierce crea­ture and hav­ing that lit­tle vul­ner­a­bil­ity and those as­pects of his hu­man­ity shine through is the beauty in him,” Ryan, 32, of­fered.

A new di­rec­tion

For most of Sea­son One, the de­tec­tive and the scar-faced vig­i­lante part­nered to­gether to solve the many crimes that plague the city and well, of course, found some time to fall in love.

But Kreuk sug­gested that this pro­ce­dural for­mat may not work the sec­ond time around: “I think the pro­ce­dural worked in the be­gin­ning and it was some­thing we tried out ... it was too much, there was too much go­ing on. And this re­ally is a fan­tas­ti­cal show and an ac­tion and ro­mance show, it is not nec­es­sar­ily a crime-solv­ing show.”

So all that is about to change in Sea­son Two. The new sea­son is set three months af­ter Vin­cent was ab­ducted by Muir­field (the bad guys that turned Vin­cent into a su­per sol­dier). He re­turns but now some­thing has changed. His scar is gone and so is his mem­ory — and yes, that in­cludes his mem­ory of Cather­ine.

“Brad Kern, the (new) showrun­ner, wanted the mantra for each char­ac­ter this sea­son to be, ‘ who am I?’ To do that, it’s ba­si­cally sep­a­rat-

ing all these char­ac­ters and let­ting them nav­i­gate in the world be­fore they come back to­gether, es­pe­cially with Vin­cent and Cather­ine.

“So the au­di­ence gets more in­sight into the back­story of these char­ac­ters be­fore they ig­nite their re­la­tion­ship,” Ryan ex­plained.

In­deed, many of the episodes on the new sea­son will fea­ture char­ac­ters and cir­cum­stances that will shed light on their past (there’s even an episode where Cather­ine has to at­tend one of those awk­ward high school reunions. Yikes!).

This new di­rec­tion isn’t just a move for a more char­ac­ter-based sto­ry­line but Ryan be­lieves it’s about get­ting back into the heart of the mythol­ogy: “I like to call this sea­son a ro­man­tic thriller. You know, that orig­i­nal ro­mance be­tween these two dis­tant char­ac­ters and all the dif­fer­ent threats they have to over­come.”

Go­ing against the grain

The New Zealand-born ac­tor also ad­dressed the many feed­backs that came when the show first aired, say­ing the Beast isn’t “beastly enough” in ap­pear­ance, sport­ing just a de­pressed scar run­ning along one side of his face.

“A lot of people were ex­pect­ing to have a young Ron Perl­man (of the 1987 TV se­ries) in a more mod­ern lion cos­tume. But for me, the rea­son why I took this job on is be­cause this beast was more about his in­ner tur­moil. That’s more in­ter­est­ing in a mod­ern story than to have an ac­tual crea­ture,” he said.

An­other thing view­ers may not have ex­pected to see in the fairy­tale-themed TV show is Beauty por­trayed by an ac­tress with Chi­nese an­ces­try.

Since the tra­di­tional French fairy­tale was pub­lished in the 1700s, the char­ac­ter is usu­ally brought to life by Cau­casian ac­tresses. “I’ve been pretty lucky that way. It was kind of a race-blind cast­ing which is re­flec­tive of our cul­ture cur­rently. We are all in North Amer­ica, we are all mixed up and we come from dif­fer­ent places,” said the for­mer Smal­lville ac­tress, who is half-Dutch and half-Chi­nese.

She also spoke about her gun­tot­ing char­ac­ter who isn’t ex­actly the typ­i­cal damsel-in-dis­tress Beauty we’re used to, say­ing the show en­ables her to em­power her fe­male au­di­ence. “Be­ing on this show al­lows me to have ac­cess to young people and young women, and they re­ally value a strong fe­male char­ac­ter. It’s very im­por­tant right now to help em­power them con­sid­er­ing ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on in pop cul­ture,” she said.

The Cana­dian ac­tress, who was trained in karate and gym­nas­tics back in high school, also re­vealed that though she has a stunt dou­ble, she does many of the show’s stunt chore­og­ra­phy on her own.

In the past few years, fairy­tales have taken the small screen by storm, with many clas­sics trans­formed into big budget TV se­ries span­ning mul­ti­ple sea­sons long (one even in­spired a spin-off).

“I think all fairy­tales speak some uni­ver­sal ex­pe­ri­ence or truth that we share,” Kreuk rea­sons.

“For in­stance with our show, some­times you feel there is some­thing about yourself that you don’t find beau­ti­ful, that you think is beastly or ugly.

“And, some­times it takes an­other per­son to see that thing and love it for you.

“I think that’s some­thing uni­ver­sal in our hu­man re­la­tion­ships and hu­man dy­nam­ics.”

Sea­son Two of Beauty And The Beast airs ev­ery Tues­day at 9pm on RTL CBS En­ter­tain­ment (Hyp­pTV Ch 616).

All is for­got­ten: Vin­cent Keller (Jay ryan) re­turns three months af­ter be­ing ab­ducted, and he has

no mem­ory of de­tec­tive Cather­ine Chan­dler (Kristin Kreuk) in the new sea­son of beautyand

The­beast.

half-Chi­nese ac­tress Kristin Kreuk is chal­leng­ing con­ven­tions, step­ping into the role of beauty, usu­ally por­trayed by Cau­casians.

LosAngeles

‘This re­ally is a fan­tas­ti­cal show and an ac­tion and ro­mance show, it is not nec­es­sar­ily a crime-solv­ing show,’ Kreuk talks about the new di­rec­tion in the sec­ond sea­son of beau­tyandThebeast.

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