By Javier Romualdo
Los Angeles, May 26 (EFE).- Disney never considered anyone other than Emma Stone to play the most extravagant and charismatic villain in its repertoire, Cruella de Vil, in the new film about the iconic baddie’s life.
“I genuinely don’t know. That’s a good question. I have no idea, I wouldn’t naturally put me together with her, but obviously they saw some evil horror in me,” said the actress during a videocall with EFE upon being asked about why she was the studio’s only choice for playing Cruella.
After the success of “Maleficent,” Disney wanted to continue exploring the origins of its evil characters and thought that, just as Warner Bros. did with “Joker,” the character of Cruella de Vil – from the 1961 animated film “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” – enjoyed that same ability to create the empathy and rejection needed to make a successful feature film.
The result is “Cruella,” which hits theaters and Disney+ on Friday, a film that reviews the life of the villain from the time she was a little girl, long before she became obsessed with having an overcoat made of Dalmatian puppy fur.
Stone thus joins the list of actors who in recent years have starred in films telling a story from the point of view of the bad guy: Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker,” Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent,” Margo Robbie in “Birds of Prey” and Tom Hardy in “Venom.”
“It’s always been interesting to know what makes people tick that are living in a way that is like the darkest parts of us,” she said. “The idea that someone does that is so socially unacceptable and so mind-blowing to most people.”
The actress compared the attraction created by film bad guys with horror films, saying that “That happens with villains, it’s sort of a catharsis, as an audience, to think … ‘What if I just let my darkest parts run the show. What would it be like?'”
But long before Cruella de Vil sparked all that fascination, she lived another life in which she called herself Estella and accumulated a handful of traumas that molded the personality that became known to all. Here is where Craig Gillespie, the director of “I, Tonya” (2017) brings the plot to the new film, designed to be a prequel to the “101 Dalmatians” films.
Set in London in the 1970s, the film starts when Estella becomes an orphan and must make a living on the streets of the British capital amid the punk rock revolution. The young woman will develop an aptitude for theft thanks to a street gang that helps her obtain her first job in the fashion industry.
As is usually the case, the future villain will encounter a figure who pushes her to the dark side of life, Baroness Von Hellman, an outstanding fashion designer played by Emma Thompson.
“She doesn’t want anyone to like her, as Cruella, which is incredible. It’s very different from me, (and I’m always saying) ‘Please like me, please!'” Stone said.
The actress accepted the role despite the fact that Glenn Close had substantially raised the bar for the character in the two “101 Dalmatians” films that Disney produced.
“Glenn Close, obviously, is a genius and did the greatest live-action Cruella ever” in film, Stone said.
But she discovered that the novel by Dodie Smith, “The Hundred and One Dalmatians,” which introduced the character for the first time in 1956, gave even more details about the protagonist.
“I don’t know why I didn’t read that book growing up … She is the Devil in the book. She puts pepper on all her food, she’s cold when she’s sitting by a fire in fur. There was a lot of really fun and interesting things to add to her through that (book),” she said.
Almost 65 years after the novel appeared, the extravagant Cruella is once again coming back into fashion.