Emma Stone is 32 years old today, and we could have looked back at any number of her memorable roles, from her breakout in Easy A to her Oscar winning performance in La La Land.
Instead, we're looking ahead to her leading role in Disney origin story Cruella. It's sure to be a show-stopping performance from Stone as she steps into the furs of Disney villain Cruella De Vil. With the movie due for release next year, here's what we know so far.
What is the story of Cruella?
Put simply, the movie shows us how Cruella De Vil became the fearsome fashionista as seen in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Disney's 1961 original was based on Dodie Smith's story The Hundred and One Dalmatians, and introduced Cruella as the puppy-coveting, fur coat-loving prima donna. She was scary and captivating by turns, and was later embodied by Glenn Close in the 1996 live-action Disney remake and 2000's sequel 102 Dalmatians.
Cruella, however, is not a straight remake but a film that takes us back to the title character's 1970s origins. Confusingly, despite Cruella's younger years, several familiar characters from One Hundred and One Dalmatians will also be present (more on the cast of characters momentarily).
Stone originally signed onto the role as early as 2016, several months before the release of La La Land. Glenn Close is on board in an executive producer capacity, a nice way of ensuring continuity between the 1996 remake and this latest outing. One might imagine that Close had constructive advice for the cast and crew, having played the character twice already.
Who stars in Cruella?
Aside from Stone, reliable British scene-stealer Emma Thompson is also featuring as the Baroness. The Disney Insider describes the character as "an antagonist to Cruella who’s thought to be pivotal in her transformation to the villain we know today". The likes of Nicole Kidman were rumoured to be in contention for the role.
So, it appears that we'll be getting a story in which Cruella starts with honest intentions and steadily turns into a cackling Disney big bad. As in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, she's got bungling henchmen Horace and Jasper on board, played by Richard Jewell's Paul Walter Hauser and Yesterday's Joel Fry.
Elsewhere, Shazam!'s Mark Strong will appear as Boris (exact details of the role unknown) and Little Joe's Emily Beecham will play Anita, owner of dalmatian Perdita. Let's not forget that as per Dodie Smith's original novel and the animated film, Cruella was a former schoolmate of Anita's, so having two actors, Stone and Beecham, relatively similar in age would make sense. In the 1996 movie, Joely Richardon's Anita was a put-upon fashion designer at the older Cruella's firm.
So, is this a prequel/origin story or a remake? It seems to be mashing up both nostalgically familiar elements and new ideas (the nature of Cruella's backstory being the main one). The Disney Insider article cited above also indicated that Lion's Dev Patel was in contention for the role of Roger (potentially Raj in this version of the story), owner of dalmatian Pongo. There's been no official confirmation of Patel's casting since the article was published in 2019, even though Disney have described the role as an "iconic" one.
Who is directing Cruella?
Cruella is being directed by Craig Gillespie, an unusual choice if you consider his most recent movie. In 2018, he received acclaim for the pitch-black I, Tonya, a darkly comedic look at the real-life Tonya Harding ice skating scandal, which featured a blistering, Oscar-nominated performance from Margot Robbie. Gillespie took an irreverent approach to the material, having Harding regularly break the fourth wall to address the tricky divide between sensationalism and the truth.
Gillespie directed actor Allison Janney towards her first Oscar – the West Wing star was on ferocious form as Harding's monstrous mother LaVona Golden. The film also starred the aforementioned Paul Walter Hauser in a hilariously deadpan role as useless criminal accomplice Shawn Eckardt. Even so, for all the film's prestige, humour and craft, it doesn't exactly scream 'potential Disney filmmaker', does it?
Easy there. Prior to I, Tonya, Gillespie had worked with Disney on two live-action dramas. The first of these, released in 2014, was Million Dollar Arm, the inspirational true story of Indian baseball hopefuls turned star American pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. Two years later, Gillespie staged rescue drama Their Finest Hours, another true story that dramatised the United States Coast Guard rescue of the crew of SS Pendleton in 1952.
It would therefore appear that Gillespie is perfect for a Disney Cruella movie, possessing both the dramatic chops and affinity for crowd-pleasing atmosphere. He's certainly got the right screenwriters on board: credited scribers include Kelly Marcel, who wrote the screenplay for Mary Poppins creation drama Saving Mr. Banks. That film elicited superb performances from Emma Thompson as Poppins author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.
Veteran English playwright and screenwriter Jez Butterworth is also involved. He's a dab hand with crowd-pleasing movies, having scripted James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring the late Chadwick Boseman. He also had a hand in James Bond blockbuster Spectre and last year's Best Picture Oscar nominee Ford vs Ferrari, the true story of a titanic automotive struggle. Matt Damon and Christian Bale played Ford designer Carroll Shelby and racing driver Ken Miles, respectively.
All in all, plenty of reasons to expect a diabolically entertaining Cruella creation story.
What does Emma Stone look like as Cruella?
Here's an image from the Walt Disney Twitter channel, originally shared last August. We can see the characteristic striped hair meshed with a somewhat anarchic, punk rock look. And Stone's new-look Cruella is flanked by her flunkies Horace and Jasper. We wonder what the names of the two adorable Dalmatians will be? Are they Pongo and Perdie?
Here’s your first look at Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in Disney's Cruella. The film, also starring Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, and Joel Fry, comes to theaters May 28, 2021. #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/KqxJ0yMYQ3— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) August 24, 2019
When is Cruella due for release?
Cruella is scheduled for release (at the time of writing) on 26th May 2021. Be sure to stay tuned to all the latest movie release dates here on the Cineworld blog.
Excited about Cruella? Let us know @Cineworld.