Rediscovering the fairy tale

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 Beauty And The Beast.

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 Beauty And The Beast.

Season 2 of Beauty And The Beast departs from police procedural drama to recover what it always was ... a romantic thriller.

A HUSH 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 ex-soldier 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.”

Half-Chinese actress Kristin Kreuk is challenging conventions, stepping into the role of Beauty, usually portrayed by Caucasians

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 separating 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 gun-toting 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.”

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

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