Not to sound cocky, but Broadway vet Paige O'Hara — who voiced the role of Belle in Disney's beloved Beauty and the Beast — had a strong suspicion that the animated film was classic material. "We always knew it was really special from the beginning," she tells TV Guide Online. "I knew just being a Disney animation freak that this was going to be one of the best."
Still, even she was floored when the pic — which has undergone a revamp for its current IMAX re-release — became the first animated movie ever to receive a best picture Oscar nod. Marvels O'Hara: "That was sort of a really wonderful surprise."
Beauty's enduring popularity has allowed O'Hara to vocalize Belle in two direct-to-video sequels, Belle's Magical World and Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas. But when the 40-year-old thesp was approached about originating the role in the stage production, she declined. "I told them, truthfully, I'm too old, and Broadway people know how old I am," she confesses. "I wouldn't want to put myself in a position of opening it."And although the Broadway version has been running for more than seven years, O'Hara says she questioned her decision but once. "The only time I was tempted to do it was when my husband [fellow stage actor Michael Piontek] was playing the Beast in the L.A. production," she confesses. "I wanted to get on stage with him and do it."