Why The Cruella Director Purposefully Did Not Reference Disney’s Other 101 Dalmatians Movies

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For the first time in over twenty years, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella de Vil is returning to the big screen with Emma Stone’s take on the iconic villain. The origin story follows the character from before she was known as Cruella and tells her devious story in the world of fashion alongside Emma Thompson’s Baroness. But Cruella is fully its own take on the character, and not delving into what the animated classic or the Glenn Close-led remake explored.

When CinemaBlend spoke to Cruella director, Craig Gillespie, we asked the filmmaker about if he looked back at the previous versions in the Disney canon ahead of making the upcoming theatrical and Disney+ release. Here’s what he said:

I actually didn’t. You know, I love Glenn Close as an actor and I’m sure the film is amazing, we just wanted to do a very original version of this and I didn’t want to have anything contaminating my vision. And it’s so uniquely specific, this is such an origin story, it’s set in ‘70s London punk that I didn’t think there would be too many things in terms of comparison, so we really worked on trying to figure out what Emma Stone’s version of Cruella would be.

Craig Gillespie chose to keep the 1996 live-action version of 101 Dalmatians to the side completely when making Cruella. The Disney movie had Glenn Close adapting the villain in her own way before reprising the role in 2000’s 102 Dalmatians. The Australian filmmaker chose to rely on his own ideas for the movie, which adds a unique flair to the House of Mouse’s live-action lineup.

During our interview, Craig Gillespie also spoke about bringing such a twisted character to the forefront in his own way. He shared one key aspect of his involvement in Cruella that he felt elevated the Disney origin story:

When I came on board there was definitely the structure and the skeleton of the script that was in place and it’s a very interesting journey that she goes on. What I really wanted to do was to bring a dark humor to it and using humor as a way to deflect the pain and suffering and I happened to be working with Tony McNamara at the time and Emma had just come off The Favourite with Tony and so he got to do a rewrite on it. And that’s when we really got to elevate it to this place where you see the two Emmas going head to head and that banter, and the way that they use their humor – the harshness of it was just delicious.

Prior to Emma Stone wearing the black and white wig, she had starred in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, which earned her third Oscar nomination in 2019. When Craig Gillespie came on Cruella, he decided to enlist the movie’s co-writer Tony McNamara, also known for his work on The Great, to add some sharpness to the script.

Craig Gillespie is well known for his dark humor too in his past projects, including Margot Robbie’s transformation as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya and his early work with Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl. With this DNA in mind for Cruella, you can certainly expect something fresh from the Disney movie. Check out the trailer below:

Cruella is coming to theaters this Friday, May 28, and to homes via Disney+ Premier Access, which requires a membership plus a $30 fee. You can get ready to enjoy the movie at home on its first day of release by signing up using this link.

Check back here on CinemaBlend for more exclusive coverage on the Disney release and get ready for more highly-anticipated summer movies coming soon to theaters and streaming.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.