Cruella De Vil is undeniably one of the most iconic villains within the Disney realm. Her strong personality, unforgettable cackle, and obsession with puppy-skin fabrics will take on a new shape in the new live-action prequel, Cruella. Following a similar approach to Maleficent, their live-action reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, Disney will once again uncover a villain’s past, taking a more sympathetic approach to the upbringing that influenced Cruella’s devious nature. In this case, they will rewind to the 70s punk era and show how a young fashion designer Estella (Emma Stone) started her career and increasingly became the Cruella we know in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
And we don’t just meet the young Cruella! The film also introduces the characters who play a part in her path to infamy, including plenty of familiar names from Disney’s beloved 1961 animated film and a few new original characters, too. The cast includes both acclaimed Hollywood actors and rising stars, so we’ve put together a handy guide to all the main characters, how they tie into the original film, who’s playing them, and where you might have seen them before.
Emma Stone as Estella, a.k.a., Cruella De Vil
Estella is an ambitious up-and-coming designer stepping into haute couture without the fear of risks. From an early age, she notices that she is different from everyone else and tries to fit into society’s moral standards while embracing the outsider qualities that make her such an inspired designer. However, as the film progresses, we can expect to see Estella slowly embrace her dark side, which will both elevate her talents as a fashionista and bring her closer to her new identity as Cruella.
Emma Stone has been attached to play Cruella since 2016, and the film marks her debut on the Disney scene. Over the years, she’s built a resume of roles that showcase her ability to channel different genres, from her breakout roles in comedies like Easy A and Zombieland to becoming an awards favorite in dramas like Birdman, The Favourite, and La La Land, the latter of which earned her a Best Actress Oscar win. From wearing a scarlet letter to dancing through Los Angeles, Emma Stone has proven she has what it takes to wear the black and white wig, following the highly praised Glenn Close performance in Disney’s 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians.
Emma Thompson as Baroness von Hellman
The Baroness is the head of the celebrated London fashion house where Estella works early in her career as a designer, and her character is more in line with what we traditionally expect from Cruella herself, absent of any remorse or goodwill. She is a pivotal part in Estella’s development into Cruella, both a rival and mentor who doles out advice on being ruthless in order to succeed in the fashion empire. She is not only Cruella’s archnemesis, but she also acts as a mirror to the unempathetic nature that is latent in Cruella’s character. Her unintentional influence over Cruella will make her an opponent in the competition for “best” in the runway game. She also has dark ties to Estella’s past, and more than a few secrets up her perfectly-tailored sleeves.
Emma Thompson was one of the first actors added to the cast in 2019, after director Craig Gillespie boarded the film. The two-time Oscar winner will wear extravagant outfits and corsets designed by Mad Max: Fury Road costume designer Jenny Beavan, who has designed costumes for Thompson several times, including Howards End and Sense and Sensibility. Thompson has also worked with Disney several times over the years, having starred as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in the 2013 drama Saving Mr. Banks, as well as voicing characters in Treasure Planet, Brave, and most recently, her portrayal as Mrs. Potts in the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast. Thompson is also an acclaimed screenwriter, earning an Oscar nomination for her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, as well as writing scripts for Nanny McPhee and Bridget Jones’s Baby.
Joey Fry as Jasper
Jasper will be familiar to any fan of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, as one-half of Cruella’s henchmen duo. But in Cruella, we meet Jasper before he became one of the dalmatian-kidnapping crooks, when he was one of Estella’s closest friends and sidekicks.
In this adaptation, Joel Fry will be playing the thief, and the actor says he hasn’t looked too closely at the animation to draw inspiration for the character aside from the character’s iconic physicality and one particular detail. In an interview with comicbook, Fry explained, “I just thought about the thin arms and legs and the fact that Jasper didn’t have much patience for Horace’s talking.” This year, the British actor also starred in Ben Wheatley‘s In the Earth, and he’s previously appeared in Danny Boyle‘s musical rom-com Yesterday and in the HBO hit series Game of Thrones as Hizdahr zo Loraq, a member of Daenerys’ inner council in Meereen.
Paul Walter Hauser as Horace
The other half of Cruella’s sidekick duo, Horace is one of Cruella’s comrades and closest friends, who eventually goes on to steal the dalmatians alongside Jasper. The live-action adaptation will be showcasing the beginning of his and Jasper’s relationship with Cruella and help viewers understand the background story behind their partnership.
Paul Walter Hauser plays Horace in Cruella, and the actor has been popping up left and right in recent years. Hauser recently played the title character in Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell, appeared in Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods, and starred as Raymond in Season 2 of Cobra Kai. He previously worked with Cruella’s director Craig Gillespie in I, Tonya.
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Anita Darling
Another character pulled directly from the original animated film, Anita is one of the main characters in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, who meets and falls in love with her husband Roger thanks to her beloved pet dalmatian, Perdita. In the 1961 film, Perdita and Pongo have a litter of fifteen, who are among the puppies kidnapped by Cruella De Vil. In Cruella, we meet Anita as an up-and-coming reporter, who finds herself in between the film’s two mavens while doing her job. A childhood friend of Estella’s from school, Anita encounters her again as an adult after her former schoolmate adopts the mantle of Cruella. Anita will be one of the few characters we know for sure is a kind-hearted, good person, and according to the promo poster, she will surely be watching out for the truth.
The character is played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who has been stealing scenes in recent TV favorites like Killing Eve, Barry, The Good Place, and Why Women Kill. This year, the actress also starred in the film Happily and, most recently, she was cast as Death in the long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.
Kayvan Novak as Roger
Anita’s future husband Roger, another character familiar from the animated classic, will also appear in Cruella. In One Hundred and One Dalmatians, he is Pongo’s owner, and along with Anita, eventually adopts all 101 of the kidnapped puppies. However, since this is a prequel, we meet him long before he and Anita fall in love. In fact, he’s a lawyer working for The villainous Baroness.
In Cruella, young Roger is played by Kayvan Novak, who is perhaps best known to American audiences for his hilarious performance as the vampire Nandor in FX’s What We Do in the Shadows series. He’s also appeared in Four Lions, voiced Brains (and multiple other characters) in the animated series Thunderbirds Are Go, and he received a BAFTA in 2008 for his comedy series Fonejacker.
John McCrea as Artie
Another character with a passion for fashion, Artie owns a vintage shop and sparks up a friendship with Estella, helping her transform into Cruella. Artie is a new addition to the narrative, who did not appear in the original animated film or the live-action 90s remake, but he’s an immediate standout in the film.
Artie is played by John McCrea, who describes the character as someone who lives by their own rules and is “completely well-adjusted, very happy, and has a real lust for life.” In an interview with Attitude, McCrea confirmed he played the character as queer, telling the outlet, “It depends on who you’re asking I suppose – but for me, yes, it’s official: he’s queer,” noting that the character was written as a drag queen in an early version of the script. Disney has not commented. A theater breakout after starring in the stage production Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, McCrea is relatively new to screen performances, having appeared in the TV series Giri/Haji and a small role in BBC One and Netflix’s 2020 Dracula miniseries. McCrea’s scene-stealing performance in Cruella might be his breakout role.
Emily Beecham as Catherine
Cruella will shed light on the villain’s past, including her childhood. With this in mind, we will get to know her mother, Catherine. The character is brand new, so audiences are still unfamiliar with her and the impact she had on Cruella’s upbringing. However, we do know that Emily Beecham will be playing the part. In 2019, Beecham won the Best Actress award for her performance in Little Joe at the Cannes Film Festival. This year, she appeared alongside Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris in the Netflix sci-fi film Outside the Wire. She also starred as The Widow in AMC’s martial arts series Into the Badlands and has been confirmed in Netflix’s upcoming series1899.
Mark Strong as John the Valet
In the same way that Jasper and Horace have Cruella’s back, so does John the Valet have the Baroness’. He may or may not be just as cruel as his boss, but one thing is for certain; he is very loyal. British actor Mark Strong will be portraying the mysterious character and he is popularly known for being the “bad guy” on-screen in films like Kick-Ass, Green Lantern, and Sherlock Holmes. Recently, Strong played villain Dr. Silvania in Shazam!, and he recently announced in an interview with Fatherly that he won’t be in the film’s sequel, with Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu taking over as the new big bads.
Cruella arrives in theatres and on Disney + simultaneously on May 28.
“I was like, I feel like this character’s inside of me because so much of my upbringing was that.”
About The Author