The Talent Behind Disney’s ‘Cruella’ Talks Creating Her Origin Story

Set in the vibrant punk era of ’70s London, Cruella is the origin story of the stylishly villainous Cruella de Vil. The all-new live-action film reveals the fascinating tale of how a gifted, nonconforming, and rebellious young girl evolved into one of cinema’s most notorious villains. The talented cast includes Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Mark Strong, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Tipper Seifert-Cleveland.

Ahead of the film’s release, I got to attend press conferences with Craig Gillespie (Director), Jenny Beavan (Costume Designer), Nadia Stacey (Hair & Makeup), Fiona Crombie (Production Designer), Emma Stone (“Cruella de Vil”), and Emma Thompson (“The Baroness”).

Courtesy of Disney

When asked if she was surprised by how dark the film got, Stone said, “I was. I mean, they really let, I think, Craig and Tony kind of write and make what they wanted to make. And I don’t know, I think it’s definitely dark for a Disney movie. Maybe not for, like, a really intense kind of R-rated film, but yeah, it was darker than I’ve seen a Disney movie for a good long time.” The film has earned a PG-13 rating.

The actress also mentioned that she was a fan of 101 Dalmatians before getting the role. “I loved the cartoon of 101 Dalmatians. I especially loved that the dogs looked like their owners. I always thought that was so funny. I remember as a kid trying to see if dogs did in fact look like their owners, and a lot of times, they do. But yes, I loved the cartoon. I thought Cruella was such a fun character,” Stone shared.

Laurie Sparham

Thompson opened up about creating the character of The Baroness. “I had such fun doing her because I think I’ve been asking for quite a number of years if I could be a villain, a proper villain. I spent decades playing what my mother used to call, ‘Good women in frocks.’ Now I got to play a really evil woman in frocks. But oh, boy, the frocks– I mean, they wore me, actually, really is what happened. I had just the best, best time. And every time Em and I would come on set, we’d just look at each other and walk around each other like we were sculptures or works of art or something, which we were. I mean, it was in a way, everyone created The Baroness, and then I sort of stepped in and just said the words,” she said.

Laurie Sparham

When asked what his primary goal when making the film about a central character that is renowned in history for being one of the most villainous villains of all time, Gillespie expressed, “I mean, villains are always so fun to portray, because you just have more license to do things that aren’t quite appropriate or push the boundaries, and create these larger-than-life characters.”

The director continued to say, “It was really important to me that it was not black and white. Obviously, no pun intended there with Cruella, but I wanted there to be this gray area and be able to empathize with the choices that she was making and the situations that she was responding to. I wanted to do it in a way that was really fun.”

Laurie Sparham

Nadia Stacey spoke about how hair and makeup helped bring the characters to life. “I think the biggest thing for me is that hair and makeup in this, which has never come off in a film before for me, is that it’s kinda used as a tool of deception. You know she’s got to disguise herself from The Baroness. So when we first see Estella, it needs to be believable that she’s a girl that’s growing in the time in London, and then she’s creating this persona in Cruella.”

“When she first starts arriving to these red carpet moments, there’s a kind of mask-like quality in all the makeups as well, ’cause she has to disguise herself. So I needed the-the difference to be huge between the two looks. I needed to keep Estella quite simple so that we had a big-somewhere big to go for Cruella,” Stacey added.

Laurie Sparham

Cruella debuts in theatres and on Disney+ with Premier Access starting May 28th.