Like you, I’m sure, I’ve been a Disney fan since I took my first breath. I know that sounds hella dramatic but legit, my earliest memories involve Disney and so it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the Haus of Mouse grow over time and continue to entertain us well into adulthood.
As a kid, my fave characters were always the villains (I’m a Scorpio, what can I tell ya?), so I was bloody thrilled to learn that the villains are getting the recognition they deserve in the live-action Disney remakes and spinoffs, starting with Maleficent and most recently, the devilish Cruella, who’s copped her own self-titled origin story.
But how’s this for a contrast: bringing the wicked minx of a character to life is sweet-as-pie actress Emma Stone. The Oscar winner told me that “there is a story behind everyone” and although Cruella is “pretty evil, [she] doesn’t really feel like an anti-hero yet.”
“Just because someone ends up truly evil doesn’t mean that they started that way necessarily,” she told me during our delightful Zoom chat.
“That said, Cruella does claim in the movie that she was born bad. So it’s needless to say she’s complicated. And I think that the idea that this character was born bad rather than just growing into that, through events that have happened to her, in some ways… I feel like she was kind of based on events that happened to her.”
Naturally, Cruella is a flawed character, one to be both admired and feared. Emma describes her as a “fully-embodied” woman who “doesn’t care anymore what people think of her,” but with that comes the fact that she “forsakes empathy in some capacity, which I don’t think is necessarily aspirational.”
She goes on to say that the message of Cruella is the differentiation of “nature versus nurture”.
“For all of us, hopefully nature and nurture are combined, but what happens if you totally distinguish those from each other? What do you get? If you sacrifice one for the sake of the other thing, that’s a kind of interesting story to explore. But if there’s a sprinkle in the message, there’s a sprinkle of not caring so much what other people think of you and leaning into what you love and who you are.”
She continued, “So I thought it was really interesting and pretty bold for Disney to want to tell that kind of a story.”
But while Cruella grows into a character who lurves the spotlight, Emma Stone says this couldn’t be further from who she is IRL.
“I’m not really into hogging the headlines, I gotta be honest with you,” she says bluntly. “I don’t even have an Instagram.”
With that said, she’s fully aware that many of her celebrity peers share this quality with the infamous Disney villain she’s portraying and her response to that is: you do you, boo.
“I think there are people who do like to hog a headline and you know, power to them! Go for it! Why not? I’ll click.”
Starring alongside Emma Stone is a host of talent including queen Emma Thompson, but it’s her other co-stars who I’m v. curious about: the Dalmatians.
“The dogs on-set were very professional and wonderful,” she gushed. “You’re not supposed to talk to them in the voice that you want to, like *cutesy dog voice* You have to be professional too, which is hard for me.”
She says that”getting to work with all the dogs” was her “favourite part of [working on the] movie,” which is fair.
“I loved showing up every day and knowing that I got to be in a scene with another adorable dog,” she said.
So where to next for this fabulously evil character? Will we ever see her meet the fate that Cruella DeVille meets in the classic animation? Emma Stone says probs not, but she’s certainly intrigued.
“Obviously in 101 Dalmatians, where she gets to is pretty dark and twisted,” she points out. “I think it’s interesting to see a villain become a true villain but also the ambiguity at the end of this movie is pretty interesting, and not knowing whether she’s really going to go down that road or if that road was misunderstood originally. We’ll just have to see.”
Disney’s Cruella is in cinemas May 27 and on Disney+ with premier access on May 28.
Matty Galea is the Entertainment Editor at Pedestrian who also dabbles in woo-woo stuff like astrology and crystals and has been penning horoscopes since the start of his career. He also Tweets about pop culture and astrology and posts spicy content on Instagram.