NEW YORK - Walt Disney Co's live-action adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast," one of the most anticipated movies of the year, will feature a gay character for the first time in Disney's history, according to the film's director.
Director Bill Condon said in an interview with Attitude, a British gay lifestyle magazine, that LeFou, the goofy sidekick to the film's primary villain, Gaston, will come to terms with his sexuality. The character is played by actor Josh Gad.
"LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston," Condon said.
"And that's what has its payoff at the end, which I don't want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie," he told Attitude.
Social media reaction was mixed. While some people welcomed Disney's move to be more inclusive, many were disappointed with the choice of Disney's first gay character.
Twitter user Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) wrote: "Disney's making its first gay character with LeFou and he's a clownish sidekick who exists to prop up his straight best friend. Great job."
User Jessica (@xwithmywoes) wrote: "In regards to LeFou being Disney's first openly LGBTQ character, it is bittersweet."
Disney was not immediately available for a comment.
The remake of Disney's 1991 animated movie, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, hits US theatres on March 17. There are already hundreds of sold-out showtimes, according to movie ticketing service Fandango.
Disney shares were up 1.1 per cent at $111.28 on Wednesday.