Who is Cruella and why is she so wicked? Disney's new origin story reveals the villain's past

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Friday, May 28, 2021
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It's finally time to find out just how Cruella de Vil came to be one of Disney's most storied villains.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- She's brilliant, bad, and a little bit mad. It's finally time to find out just how Cruella de Vil came to be one of Disney's most storied villains.

"Cruella" hits theaters and Disney+ Friday.

I had a chance to chat with the cast about the making of this origin story.

We've known Cruella de Vil for 60 years, since "Disney's 101 Dalmatians" debuted back in 1961. But now, for the first time, we get her back story.

Oscar winner Emma Stone is Cruella.

She says the black and white hair was a thrill, but the real fun came in revealing just how Cruella became the villain we love to hate. Or, in this case, hate to love.

"I was very intrigued with the idea of what makes a villain," says Stone. "There is something about being autonomous and really accepting yourself as you are."

It's 1970s London where we find Estella.

"She's a very brilliant young girl who becomes a very villainous woman that we all know and love," Stone says. "This is sort of the backstory of how she became that way."

Emma Thompson plays the Baroness.

Two Academy Award winners playing two wickedly talented foes.

"We made something that hasn't been done before, that's truly original," Thompson says. "It's thrillingly dark and dynamic and feisty and fierce and fun."

Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays Anita Darling, a childhood friend of Estella's.

"I love the character, I love Cruella," Howell-Baptiste says. "I think she's always been slightly misunderstood."

The film is a feast for the eyes with haute couture fashion and the edgy, grungy punk rock of '70s London.

"It was so much fun to not have a backstory for Cruella," says director Craig Gillespie. "We kind of had an open canvas. It's good people doing bad things, which is so much more interesting."

And she doesn't do it alone. Cruella's ragtag team brings the heart and the laughs.

"The hope is that we'll get to do another movie and explore that family dynamic as Cruella becomes more Cruella-ish," says Paul Walter Hauser, who plays Horace.

Cruella is in theaters 5/28 and also on Disney+.

You can watch bonus coverage on our streaming platforms like Apple TV and Roku.