In 1987, Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton were a hit in Beauty and the Beast. Creator Ron Koslow resurrected the idea, but gave the fairy tale a modern twist with Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk and Terra Nova’s Jay Ryan in the lead. Debashine Thangevelo gauged their thoughts as season two resumes…
Detective Catherine “Cat” Chandler
VIEWERS became so used to her as Lana Lang in the long-running TV series Smallville, that it was hard to envisage Kreuk in any other role. Fortunately, when the series ended after 10 seasons, the gorgeous 31-year-old received the best offer, which allowed her to wipe the slate clean of anything Smallville related.
Cast as Catherine Chandler in Beauty & the Beast, Kreuk got to explore greater dimensions as an actress. While romance feeds into her story, she also gets to flex her acting muscles in numerous action and emotional scenes. Tenacious and loyal, Cat often finds herself in Catch-22 situations that turn perilous.
Just to refresh minds, season one ended with Vincent trapped in a net and carried off by Cat’s real father – something she isn’t aware of. That said, the cliffhanger storylines elevated the start of season two, where much has changed.
Kreuk offers: “Catherine has been looking for Vincent for three months and she’s destroyed. She’s destroyed all her relationships essentially because she’s so focused on him. And he has lost his memory and been reprogrammed and is an entirely new beast.
“They are going to have to find each other again. And it’s some- thing that’s quite beautiful for people who like the show because Vincent is still drawn to Catherine even though he doesn’t remember her. Catherine still brings out the humanity in Vincent even though he is trained to go on these very specific missions and be a killing machine, essentially.”
Of course, with viewers picking up from the show’s production break, much has happened in the interim with Cat and former assistant district attorney Gabriel Lowen, who is also Cat and Tess’ new boss, dating, too.
Given all the turmoil her character faced last season, it has changed her, too.
She shares: “I think Catherine started with a lot of bravado and she was very tough. But as more and more bad things happened and more and more has been taken away from her, her vulnerability and desire to have steadiness and love has become more raw. In season two, she gets her strength back again, but her neediness is exposed and I think that feels scary for her.”
As for how Cat feels about Vincent – more so with Muirfield no longer hunting him – Kreuk notes: “His scar is gone – even his body language has changed. He is much more efficient in his movements and he is not as animalistic. His fighting is much more military in style.
“There is this beautiful thing that kind of represents how tied to each other Vincent and Catherine are, where he hears her heartbeat and can isolate it. It’s like it distracts him in a way. It becomes this overpowering force within a space. After episode eight, we start to really understand why that exists.”
Expanding on his missions, she explains: “That will start to push Catherine and Vincent into an interesting moral discussion about justice.”
With Beauty & the Beast exploring so many universal themes while throwing interesting twists into the storyline, it looks like Kreuk has created another huge fan base with this conflicted but endearing role. Even better, she will return for a third season.
Former soldier-turned-beast Vincent Keller
BEAUTY & the Beast is the best thing to happen to this New Zealand actor, who gained popularity in Neighbours, Go Girls and then Sea Patrol.
His fleeting stint on Legend of the Seeker and time on Terra Nova undoubtedly contributed to this breakthrough TV role in the US.
Chatting about the duality of his character, he says: “The Jekyll and Hyde aspect that I wanted to bring in season one is really manageable this season. You know the story allows for it a lot more. To be able to flip from one end to another of a character within a scene or a moment or a sentence is really fun for me.
“I like to shock the other actors, you know, because they are so used to the Vincent from season one. This sort of fierce Vincent is keeping everyone on their toes.”
Although his character is given tons of action scenes, stunt doubles are frequently used to ensure the actors aren’t placed in risky situations.
Ryan offers: “We wanted to go with more of a Bourne-like controlled fighting tone for Vincent this season. We got a pair of stunt co-ordinators called the McGuire brothers who are awesome guys – ones you would never want to get into a bar fight with, though. They brought a great style to Vincent and Catherine this season. And I have to say, the stunts are pretty epic.”
As for working alongside Kreuk again, he smiles: “You know, it’s funny. I think as you become more comfortable with someone and you work with them a lot, your communication isn’t sort of small chat. It is more instinctual so you just look at each other and you know what you are sort of saying.
“There’s that kind of connection. That helps the work as well. She’s very easy and a good leader. A very happy and humble person to be around.”
Given the curve ball with the show introducing a “new” Vincent, he received some interesting feedback from fans.
“I think people like the spontaneity of him this season. He’s not so weighted by trying to find the cure to become human again. He’s got a purpose and is a lot more dangerous. He can be a character you love to hate sometimes rather than just the character you love. There is definitely more edginess to him.”
That he is loving the writing and the fast-paced storyline goes without saying.
The actors adds: “This season is very much a romantic thriller with fantastical characters.”
• Beauty & the Beast returns to M-Net (DStv channel 101) from its production break and is back in its 7pm slot on Saturdays.