- “An eccentric inventor but loving father who supports Belle's dreams, Maurice gets lost on his way to the fair to present his latest creation and ends up stumbling upon the castle of the beast. He is made a prisoner until Belle exchanges her freedom for his.”
- ―Diamond Edition Website
Maurice is a character from the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast and its 1997 sequel. Maurice is the father of Belle and father-in-law of the Beast. It is unknown when he was widowed (below). He works as an inventor. He was voiced by the late Rex Everhart and later on by Jeff Bennett and Corey Burton.
Maurice is an inventor living in a little French town with Belle, his daughter, and has a dream to make a good invention and become rich, so he and Belle can move away to a bigger town. LeFou call Maurice a crazy old loon and make fun of him, with Gaston, the town hero and local hunter, laughing in agreement, but Belle manages to stick up for her father (with Gaston "agreeing" with Belle, although solely in an attempt to impress her), calling him a genius. One day, when Belle comes home from the bookstore, she sees her father working on a new invention that backfired on him, and, after boosting his morale and making sure he's all right, asks him if he thinks that she's odd because there's no one in town she can talk to, and Gaston the handsome hunter isn't right for her, to which Maurice replies, "Don't you worry, 'cause this invention's gonna be the start of a new life for us." After Maurice tries out his new invention and it works really well, he heads off to the fair on his horse Phillippe to enter his invention and make lots of money.
While on the way to the fair, Maurice and Phillippe get lost in the woods, and when they try to go down a dark path, they encounter bats and wolves. When Maurice tries to get Phillippe under control, the horse throws him off and runs away. When Maurice recovers from his fall, he sees the wolves and runs down a cliff with the wolves chasing him. Luckily Maurice manages to find the gate to the Beast's castle and manages to get it open and shut before the wolves can reach him. Once inside, Maurice calls out for help, not noticing Lumière the candle and Cogsworth the clock. When he picks up Lumière and notices that he's alive, he accidentally drops him. He also grabs Cogsworth and winds him up and accidentally sneezes in Cogsworth's face. Lumière offers Maurice to the Beast's chair where he sits down and is offered tea by Mrs. Potts the teapot and her son Chip the teacup. Just as Maurice is about to drink his tea, the doors open and Beast storms in, angrily asking Maurice who he is and what he's doing there in the castle. As Maurice frighteningly tries to explain what happened to him in the forest, Beast mistakenly assumes that Maurice came there to stare at him and locks Maurice in the dungeon.
When Belle comes to the castle, she finds her father in the dungeon, but before she can free him, Beast appears. Belle offers to take her father's place in the dungeon, to which the Beast agrees, and sets Maurice free and sends him back to the village on a palanquin that walks like a spider.
When Maurice gets back to town, he goes to the local tavern and tries to get Gaston and the villagers to help him rescue Belle from the Beast, but they throw Maurice out, believing that he's crazy. This also gives Gaston a plan to make Belle marry him to, which is that he pays Monsieur D'Arque, the owner of the asylum, to lock up Maurice unless Belle agrees to marry Gaston. When Maurice gets back home, he decides that if no one will help him, he'll go back to the castle and get Belle out himself. He leaves right before Gaston and LeFou show up to put their plan into place.
When Maurice is trying to find the castle in the woods, he gets cold and sick, and passes out in the woods. Luckily, Belle uses the Beast's magic mirror to find him and takes him back home. When Maurice wakes in bed at home, he is happy to see Belle again and asks her how she escaped the Beast. Belle tells her father that the Beast has changed his ways and let her go free, giving her his magic mirror to keep. Monsieur D'Arque shows up and tells Belle he has come to take Maurice to the asylum where they'll "take very good care of him." Belle insists that her father isn't crazy, but when Maurice tries to explain to them about the Beast again, LeFou and the villagers laugh at him and two of D'Arque's men take Maurice away. Gaston tells Belle that he'll help her free Maurice if she marries him, but Belle turns him down and proves that her father isn't crazy by showing the Beast through the Magic Mirror. Gaston convinces the Villagers that the Beast is dangerous and sets off to attack the Beast, locking Maurice and Belle in their cellar. Luckily, Chip (who snuck back to the village with Belle) uses Maurice's invention to free Maurice and Belle and they ride off back to the castle on Phillippe. He is left at the entrance with Chip when Belle has Philip kick in the door and she rushes inside. He is not shown again until the end, but we must assume he must have followed Belle into the castle and encountered Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts whom he informed of what was happening to their master the Beast, which is why they came rushing into his room in time to see him get stabbed.
In the end, after the spell is lifted and the Beast and his servants are returned to their human forms, Maurice watches happily by the side of Mrs. Potts (who is holding Chip) as Belle and Prince Adam dance.
Maurice makes a cameo in the midquel but doesn't speak, primarily because Rex Everhart, the actor who originally voiced the character, had died before production could begin. In a long distance shot of the castle ballroom, he is first seen being served tea at the fireplace by Mrs. Potts with whom he is apparently chatting; then a few minutes later he is seen listening to Mrs. Potts as she begins her story about last year's Christmas between Belle and the Beast, at which he was not present.
Maurice made a brief guest appearance in the television series.
Maurice appears in the ABC television series here taking on the role as a monarch. He is played by Eric Keenleyside. His Storybrooke counterpart is Moe French, who runs the town's florist shop Game of Thorns. Moe breaks into Mr. Gold's place and robs him, on the commands of Regina. Emma recovers the stolen goods, but Mr. Gold says there's still something missing and takes matters into his own hands. He kidnaps Moe and takes him to the cabin of Mary Margaret and David's guilt, where he tortures and beats him. It is hinted that he is the father of the Storybrooke Belle that is locked up at the hospital's psych ward.
Upon remembering his true identity after the dark curse was broken, Moe is confirmed to be Belle's father and searches for her. He has no success until Mr. Gold comes to his flower shop saying he is looking for Belle, who had just gone missing, and just wants to know she is okay. Moe rebukes Mr. Gold, and hires William Smee to find his daughter. Smee succeeds in doing this, and daughter and father are tearfully reunited. But when Moe demands that Belle leave Mr. Gold permanently, Belle refuses, saying that she is her own person and her father cannot tell her what to do. Moe sadly orders Smee to take her to the town line and across it so she will forget who she is and who Mr. Gold is.
Later, David Nolan, Ruby, and Mr. Gold return to the flower shop. Moe confesses he had Smee take Belle across the town boundary. With Moe in tow, everyone runs to the mines, where Mr. Gold barely saves Belle from losing her memory. In addition to being angry with Mr. Gold, she tells Moe she never wants to see him again for what he attempted to do to her.
Disney on Ice
In the Disney on Ice version, his actual encounter with the Enchanted Objects and the Beast is not shown; instead they first appear when Belle arrives in the castle. Also, he is locked up in the tavern cellar by Monsieur Darque, and this is what Belle sees in the Enchanted Mirror, and eventually she ends up getting locked in there with him only to be rescued by Chip and Maurice's invention as in the film. Also in the Disney on Ice version, Belle and Maurice arrive at the castle just in time to take part in the Battle between the Enchanted Objects and the villagers, Maurice gallantly coming to the defence of Mrs. Potts, with whom he pairs off with at the end after she and the other Objects become human again.
Maurice makes no live appearances in the parks but his cottage is featured in the Beauty and the Beast themed part of Fantasyland in Walt Disney World. Also, Maurice has a spell card known as "Maurice's Wood Chopper" in the attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Along with LeFou he is notably absent from the stage adaption of Beauty and the Beast in the parks. Maurice is the spotlight character of "Maurice's Amazing Popping Machine", a little eating area in Fantasyland. Recent vinyl figures of him are currently being sold in Walt Disney World as well, despite him not being meetable in the parks.
Beauty and the Beast: the musical
- In the stage musical of the film, the role of Maurice is slightly expanded upon, and a duet was added for him and Belle No Matter What sung just before he tries out his invention. In the later touring production, the number was dropped and replaced by some spoken dialogue in which Maurice gives Belle some fatherly advice about finding the right person to share her life with; he also briefly reminisces about her mother. Also later during the run of the show, he is present although he does not take part in a new solo for Belle A Change in Me, which she sings in the scene where she brings him home.
- In the musical, it is left ambiguous whether he and Mrs. Potts pair off, for although they initially come in dancing together with the ensemble at the finale, for the final tableaux, he is seen standing next to Belle and the Prince while Mrs. Potts poses with Chip.
- In the original Broadway production, he was played by Tom Bosley, who incidentally had also voiced Geppetto in an earlier non-Disney animated film, Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night.
- Maurice is similar to both Geppetto from Walt Disney's Pinocchio and Norton T. Gimmick from the Teddy Ruxpin cartoon series. All three are kindly, elderly, and infinitely absent-minded though brilliant; and like Norton, Maurice wears mismatched socks almost as an outward badge of his absent-mindedness.
- The Be Our Guest song was originally written for when Maurice arrives at the castle after being chased by the wolves. When Maurice walks in there's a dinner set up for him and Lumière begins singing the song along with the other objects. It was later declared that the song be moved to focus on Belle because it seemed like a waste to use such a grand number on a secondary character. A clip of Angela Lansbury (the voice of Mrs. Potts) recording for the original version of the song can be seen in the Beauty and the Beast trailer featured on the 1991 VHS release of The Jungle Book.
- In the original tale, Maurice was a wealthy merchant and not an inventor. One similarity to the movie to some degree was that the merchant lost everything when his ships were lost at sea and a lightning storm had burned down his manor, but he handles the adversity squarely as he struggles to rebuild the family fortune somehow. A difference in the tale and the movie is that Maurice's wife was still alive, and that he had five children to which Beauty was the youngest and closest to her father. Also in the original tale Maurice did take refuge in the castle, only to be perplexed why food and accommodations were ready for him yet the castle was supposedly abandoned (in the tale the Beast took care of the castle by himself). Only when Maurice plucked a rose from the garden did the Beast reveal himself and was angry with Maurice for pilferage when the Beast had been a good host, and demanded to meet this "Beauty" the rose was for.
- It is likely that Maurice's natural hair color was dark brown as Belle's mother has light brown hair.
- In a short lived comic book series some years before Belle and the Beast meet, Maurice is shown somewhat younger with a full set of hair, and definitely dark brown.
- In the original 1989 storyline of the film, Maurice was a merchant who lost all his money, as in the oiriginal tale. His reason for leaving the house before finding the Beast's castle was to sell his late wife's music box so that he could pay his taxes. Strangely enough, while riding through a town, he was accosted by a prostitute. According to animator Andreas Deja his design in that version of the film was based off of actor Jack Lennon.
- Maurice is similar to Hiram Flaversham from "The Great Mouse Detective" in the senses that they both build things with mechanics, have daughters, (Belle, Olivia) are widowers, and are both caught in blackmails involving their daughters set up by the villains (Gaston, Ratigan).
- Ironically though, Maurice was the victim if his daughter Belle didn't give Gaston what he wanted, while Olivia was the victim if her father didn't give Ratigan what he wanted.
Notes and references