The original ‘Beauty and the Beast’ actress explains why Emma Watson is the ‘perfect’ Belle

Belle, beauty and the beast

As Disney aficionados know, a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” hits theatres in March 2017 — nearly 26 years after the original animated film was released. The new cast will include Emma Watson as Belle and Luke Evans as the Beast.

INSIDER spoke with the original voice actress behind Belle, Paige O’Hara, about the upcoming movie and how it feels to have Emma Watson step into her shoes.

Emma Watson Belle Beauty and the Beast Disney
Emma Watson at a table read for the upcoming live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Disney

“Perfect casting,” O’Hara tells INSIDER. “I’ve said this a few times now in the last couple days — if I was producing [the movie] I would have cast her as my number one choice, absolutely. I think she’s going to be amazing.”

Belle is not your average Disney princess. According to O’Hara, she is one of the only princesses meant to be in her 20s, as opposed to late teens. Plus her brown hair and bookish quality made Belle a departure from her regal blonde predecessors. This ties into Watson’s personality well, according to O’Hara.

“[Watson] is very very smart, and she’s got a real warmth about her too and a quirky odd sense of humour,” O’Hara explains. “I think she’s gonna be great.”

The new version of “Beauty and the Beast” premieres on March 17, 2017. Though teasers have given only the teensiest glimpse at Watson’s version of Belle, Disney fans are just as confident as O’Hara that she’ll be the perfect princess.

NOW WATCH: Disney is turning its classic characters into live-action movies — here are all 12 of them