ENTERTAINMENT
01/11/2012 05:47 pm ET

Angela Lansbury Revisits Disney Classic 'Beauty And The Beast'

Disney fans who grew up dreaming of dancing cutlery, cascading rose petals and a certain leading lady's enviable golden gown are in for a treat this weekend when "Beauty and the Beast" returns to theaters.

After the surprise success of last year's theatrical 3-D release of "The Lion King," Disney has dusted off another animated classic and given it the 3-D treatment with hopes that the story -- a tale as old as time, if you will -- still resonates with today's audience.

The legendary Angela Lansbury, who voiced the loveable Mrs. Potts and sang the "Beauty and the Beast" theme song, spoke to The Huffington Post about playing a teapot, the film's success, and her large fan base.

Did you have any idea "Beauty and the Beast" would become a classic when it was first released in 1991?
I had no idea whatsoever. I knew this was going to be a very big animated movie, but I had no idea how they were going to develop the story and I think it exceeded everybody's expectations.

You sang the film's theme song, which makes me teary every time I hear it, as I'm sure it does for many fans.
I know what you mean. When I first heard it, it was kind of a rock song and I told them, "This is a sweet message, but this really isn't my style. Are you sure you want me to do this?" They told me to sing the song the way I envisioned it, so that's what I did. I created it the way a little English teapot would sing the song. I really go for the whole character when I do something, whether it's a cartoon or a real movie.

Do you get parents coming up to you to introduce their kids to you?
Oh, very much. Oddly enough, children recognize my voice. They'll hear me and say, "Mom, that's Mrs. Potts!" It's the timbre of my voice that they pick up on.

You're 86. Any plans to retire?
Not really. I don't think it's a good idea to retire. I think if you faze yourself out, that's your call, so you go on as long as you feel what you're giving to the job is 100 percent. The minute you think it's less than that, I think you should faze yourself out. I'm involved with the American Theater Wing and various other organizations helping young people to get started as actors. There's plenty to do without actually getting on stage. Theater is very demanding, physically, and it requires memory and those are the things, as you get old, that are the hardest to control.

My mother is terrified of losing her memory.
This is a fear that we all have. We do everything possible to prevent it, to cover it up (laughs). The main thing is to keep your mind as active as possible, and be as involved as possible with everything that's going on. Some of us keep opening doors and trying to let good stuff in.

You've got every fan base covered: kids, gay people, older people. Everyone loves you.
Well, isn't that marvelous? It really is and I don't take it lightly. I take it very seriously because I know how important certain things are to people. I know how women of a certain age are encouraged and helped by watching "Murder She Wrote," even today. I even get teenagers who grew up watching it coming up to me and saying, "You're Jessica Fletcher!"

We all love you.
Oh, that's lovely. Aren't I the lucky one?

"Beauty and the Beast 3D" returns to theaters Jan. 13.

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