*”Cruella” is the new Disney live-action film exploring Cruella del Vil – the villain from the animated classic “101 Dalmatians” origin story. Emma Stone (“La La Land”) stars in the leading role – set in 1970s London during the punk rock revolution, a young grifter named Estella is trying to break into the fashion industry.
She builds a life on the London streets with the help of two young thieves, Joel Fry (Jasper) and Paul Walter Hauser (Horace), who appreciate her appetite for mischief. Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of fashion legend Baroness von Hellman, played by two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense & Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable, and revenge-bent Cruella.
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Munroe: As a journalist, I appreciated Anita’s ability to get the tea and find a good angle; what was your favorite characteristic of Anita?
Howell-Baptiste: My favorite characteristics of Anita are kind of similar to that…Being someone who has the ability to observe without judgment is actually quite rare, and I think Anita has that. She is someone who is there to observe and document. She lets the story tell itself.
The original animated film established that Anita and Cruella were classmates. Here we dive into the backstory of that friendship.
Jill Munroe: This is a new character – what steps did you take to introduce her to the world?
Howell-Baptiste: Similarly to Cruella, we’ve seen her, but we didn’t know how she came to be. We’ve never seen that of Anita. So, I had the liberty of being able to create the Anita that I wanted to see. This character is more true to what I would want Anita to be. I hope that there are moments that kind of tip the hat to what Anita has been and what people recognize her for in the past.
Howell-Baptiste: I enjoyed every single moment of it. A lot was filmed when I wasn’t there…So I saw a lot of the Cruella costumes for the first time on screen like everyone else, and I was just blown away by it. I love my costuming! All those pieces were handmade. If I were to take anything away – and I don’t want to give too much away, but the Cruella dress, the dumpster moment, that’s Met Gala!
“Cruella” will be available in theaters and on Disney+ from May 28.