For actor Dan Stevens, working on Disney's upcoming Beauty and the Beast was nothing short of physically exhilarating.
While the film touts its live-action take on the classic Disney animated film, Stevens is one of few in the film who had to work within the confines of computer-generated imagery, as "The Beast" isn't exactly possible without it.
"The physical preparation and the way I had to condition my body, to dance as much as I was dancing," Stevens said, made taking on the role all the more difficult. Why? Well, he as acting on stilts.
"That made everything hard that I would normally do to prepare for a role ten inches harder," he said. "To put myself through the choreography steps as it were, all while puppetteering the muppet suit I was in."
While it may have been easier on the studio to have a completely CG Beast, technological advances allowed for chemistry between the film's two main actors, Stevens and Emma Watson, without compromise.
"For a romantic relationship in a fairy-tale, you want that human connection," he said. "So when we were playing the scenes, there was nothing in between, no cameras dangling between us."
Facial motion capture was done separately from the physical component of the Beast, so the emotion felt more organic, he said. Some films will use props or stand-ins for CGI characters, but with the Beast, there was none of that.
"I'd sit in a cage and 27 little cameras would capture everything I was doing," he said. "Everything I was doing with my face, whether I was eating, sleeping or waltzing. They took that information and morphed that into the Beast's face."
Then there was the singing, which moviegoers may feel was pitched down low to capture the booming essence of the Beast, but Stevens said that wasn't the case. That's actually his voice.
"They made some fangs for me to play with during character prep," he said. "How would someone with fangs hold their face? This very vain character who has been cursed with these teeth and their mouth starts turning down, with the larynx down."
While much of the new film is directly adapted from the original, there is the addition of a new song, one made exclusively for Stevens' portrayal of the Beast: "Evermore."
"I was excited to have a new song written by Alan Menken, for me," Stevens said. "It was just amazing to hear, to work with Menken. To cut close to his brain, he could generate a hit melody by the seconds. It's quite a remarkable thing to be around."
Then of course, Stevens discussed working with Emma Watson, opposite to her Belle.
"She's terrific," he said. "The most recent thing I saw her do [before filming] was her incredible speech at the UN, and it seemed to speak to so many things in the ether."
Stevens said he admires Watson's philanthropy, something she continues to be active in with projects like HeForShe, a solidarity campaign she started in 2014.
"Feminism isn't just for women, it's about redressing an imbalance, but in order to do that, you have to engage boys and you have to engage men," he said. "You need to engage masculinity."
Stevens said he found some of those themes throughout "Beauty and the Beast," that the characters of the Beast and Belle go toe-to-toe, with their wits matched.
"It's all there, in very simple, usable terms," he said. "And we tried to really work in harmony with those ideas."
While Beauty and the Beast hits theaters this week, Stevens also had a moment to discuss his work with Marvel Television and Fox on Legion, a show built around the lore of the X-Men, though it's not directly connected to any of the films.
"I'm still sort of exploring [the difference between working on television and film]," he said. "But making Legion was a bit like making an eight-hour movie."
Stevens plays David Haller, Charles Xavier's mutant son, complete with abilities like telepathy and telekinesis, but the show remains grounded in its drama. It currently airs on FX.
Final question: Who is Stevens' favorite Marvel superhero?
"Legion, of course," he laughed. "But honestly, Black Panther, especially Ta-Nehisi Coates depiction of the character. I'm excited for Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther."
Beauty and the Beast hits theaters March 17.