Gaston: a pompous and dim-witted “ladies man”
Gaston is quite arguably one of the most iconic villains in disney history. His pompous demeanor and arrogant personality sets him apart as the guy everyone loves to hate. Like most disney musicals and movies, much of the audience knows the character’s ins and outs. They know their workings and even know what makes them tick. Gaston is no different.
Back in March when I gratefully and nervously accepted the role to play Gaston, I immediately began thinking, “How am I going to make such an iconic character memorable?” It boiled down to the idea of how can I as a person relate to Gaston? Fortunately, I try avoiding the actual persona of Gaston in my everyday life but I believe some of us may possess a few of his ideological tendencies deep down inside. Now I’m not talking about his idiocracy towards rejections and passion to kill his competition but rather the idea to fight for want he wants as well as enjoying the attention of his peers from time to time. So the questions might come up. Is Gaston really that bad? Could he actually be the good guy?
Now I was getting somewhere when it came to developing Gaston’s character. But, I have an issue. At first, instead of being excited and telling friends and family about my exciting news, I kept quiet and at some points even avoided the topic all together. Very un-Gaston like if you ask me. I actually was even finding myself more conflicted and appalled by his values than wanting to adopt it. Accepting this role now meant I would be stepping out of my comfort zone . . . WAY out of my comfort zone. I’ve been a part of music for awhile but acting and singing alone mildly terrifies me. At this point I am somehow even further away from finding my solace in Gaston.
Rehearsals began and the memorizing commenced but the looming question of how I was going to make this role memorable remained. Music rehearsals took up a good chunk of time in the beginning which meant as we rehearsed the score, it gave me time to be able to play around with his character and develop a loose back story for him. I was able to analyse with how I felt about his pompous and dim-witted ways. I have come to conclusion that Gaston is simply just misunderstood. Now, I’m not saying that this is what makes Gaston the good guy or trying to make you feel bad for him but rather in some way justifying his behavior.
We all have passions and some might be healthier than others (I have a low key passion for really good tasting burgers). However, the true passion that I have is for the sport of track and field and it rivals the related passion of a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. Gaston passion for attention and rather uncomfortable infatuation with Belle is quite honestly no different. The way I give everything I have to the sport I love (I coach track and field and was a former athlete by the way) might, in a weird way, relate to how Gaston swoons over Belle and sometimes even his own reflection.
Pouring everything he has into winning her over. Also, on a much easier connection, we all enjoy attention from our successes and praise for our accomplishment. But from the story we do know, the only true accomplishment Gaston’s has is graduating from eating four dozen to five dozen eggs and now he’s the size of a barge. So I’m starting to see the connection now to Gaston, but I would never have thought I was the bad guy. Maybe I was approaching him all wrong.
Although I don’t normally ingest five dozen eggs every morning, I am starting to get a grip on Gaston’s character. Most of us know the story of Beauty and the Beast (if you don’t, I wont give to away) and we know the dark and almost evil man he turns into. Gaston probably isn’t the good guy but we all have somewhere inside of us that enjoys a good ego rub. I believe that Gaston’s passion for Belle, even though sometimes toeing the line on creeper, relates a lot more to us on the passions that we have then we care to admit.
I’m not yet fully committed to the pompous and dim-witted ladies man that the script describes him as and I don’t see Gaston turning into the good guy any time soon. I am, however, developing a way to relate to his passions and love for attention. I’ll find my sea legs for this character and will definitely be bringing a little of my own je ne sais quoi to this role.