Disney’s Cruella: Everything We Know
2/17/2021 • 4 min read
Disney has inducted new generations into fandom by remaking the studio's animated classics as flashy live-action features. Some of the company’s most successful movies of the past few years (think THE JUNGLE BOOK, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THE LION KING) have all followed the same essential model: Retain everything that made the movies so fun and memorable with either real actors or photo-realistic CGI, while modernizing characters, adding story beats, and rearranging songs. And it works!
Of all of the studio's live-action remakes, few as exciting as CRUELLA. It's a fresh take on ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS that looks like a prequel but will likely be a lot more. Here’s everything we know about CRUELLA, beginning with the fact that if she doesn’t get you, no evil thing will.
The Cruella Release Date
CRUELLA is currently set to roll her long, stylish car into theatres on May 28, 2021.
Is There a Cruella Trailer?
Yes! The first CRUELLA trailer just arrived, and it gives us a nice, long look at Emma Stone's villainous title character. What it does not offer is any real clue as to the story. There's a sense of a conflict between Stone's Cruella and an older high society woman played by Emma Thompson — and there are one or two shots of Dalmatians, to connect back to what we know of Cruella de Vil, but that's about it!
Fortunately, Disney's synopsis tells us a bit more about the story. Academy Award® winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”) stars in Disney’s CRUELLA, an all-new live-action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinema's most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil. CRUELLA, which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by two-time Oscar® winner Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense & Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable, and revenge-bent Cruella.
The Cast Is Killer
CRUELLA has an absolutely astounding cast, starting with Emma Stone as the titular Cruella De Vil. (Recall that Cruella was previously played by Glenn Close in a pair of successful ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS live-action movies in 1996 and 2000). Another noteworthy Emma is also a part of the cast, too: Emma Thompson, who plays The Baroness von Hellman. (An ominous name!)
Paul Walter Hauser (from RICHARD JEWELL) and Joel Fry (from YESTERDAY) play Horace and Jasper, who in the 1961 original animated film were Cruella’s dim bulb henchman. (Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams played the roles in the previous live-action iterations.) Plus, Emily Beecham plays Anita, another iconic character from the original film. Mark Strong, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and James Demetriou round out the cast. Like we said – that ensemble is wildly good. And we can’t wait to see these talented performers tackle such unforgettable roles. (Any bets as to whether or not Cruella will smoke in this movie as she did in the original animation? No, we don’t think so either.)
It’s a Prequel
An early plot description from Disney didn't offer much in the way of story details, but it did paint a tantalizing picture. "Set in 1970s London, young fashion designer Cruella de Vil becomes obsessed with dogs' skins, especially Dalmatians until she eventually becomes a ruthless and terrifying legend."
The original "The Hundred and One Dalmatians" novel, by Dodie Smith, was written in 1956, and the animated feature was released in 1961. So the new setting doesn’t predate the original stories. It does, however, mean that Emma Stone's version of the character could actually be a younger version of the Glenn Close version.
And we’ve never really seen why Cruella is so obsessed with turning adorable black-and-white puppies into a luxurious coat, which should be a lot of fun. At the D23 Expo in 2019, the company teased that the movie would have a cool, punkish edge, which fits perfectly with the time period and the setting. This Cruella is ready to rock.
The Filmmaking Team Is Aces
CRUELLA is directed by Craig Gillespie, whose most recent film is the Oscar-nominated I, TONYA. That's the story of how an everyday woman is transformed into a villainess. If you still haven’t seen I, TONYA for some reason, know that it rules and is a great one to track down.
Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna wrote THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and co-created CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND. So, again, she's someone who knows a thing or two about crafting a complicated, three-dimensional female villain. (And you can tell that Cruella was something of a model for Meryl Streep in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA). Finally, Tony McNamara also contributed to the screenplay. He wrote the pitch-perfect script for THE FAVOURITE, a movie that earned Oscar nominations for both him and for Emma Stone. This is a behind-the-scenes dream team that should be able to bring the array of classic characters to life in a truly fun and exciting way.
It Could Spawn a New Franchise
There were two DALMATIANS movies with Glenn Close, and the 1961 animated original spawned a sequel in 2003 called 101 DALMATIANS II: PATCH’S LONDON ADVENTURE. The animated movie also inspired an animated series in 1997, developed by "Doug" creator Jim Jinkins, and another in 2019.
That means that CRUELLA could be the start of a new franchise for the studio, which is already plotting follow-ups to THE LION KING (by MOONLIGHT director Barry Jenkins) and ALADDIN. Could Emma Stone return to chase any more puppies? Only time will tell.
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All images courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.