Audiences finally got a chance to see Cruella this past weekend, with the live-action prequel making its debut both in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access. The film's arrival comes after nearly a decade of development on the project, which has been in the works in some capacity since 2013. In that time, the film was met with multiple script iterations, including rewrites courtesy of The Favorite's Tony McNamara. In a recent interview with Collider, Cruella director Craig Gillespie spoke about how the film's plot evolved over time — and how McNamara's work, in particular, strengthened the film.
"They sent the script over, and the script wasn't what I felt that I could excel at," Gillespie explained. "It was a little bit more straight with the narrative and the drama, and I really wanted to infuse this energy and this tone and this playfulness to it. That gave me some pause, as to whether I could actually even get it to that point. I wasn't sure if I could really get it to a place that suited my sensibility. But then, we talked to Tony McNamara. I was working on a project with him, and Emma had just done The Favourite with him, and Disney was supportive, so he came in and did a rewrite. Once we got that rewrite, then I was like, 'All right, now I've got a movie. Now I know what I can do with this.'"
"The skeleton of the movie was there," Gillespie added. "Dana Fox had really cracked that. That ending was in place and the duality of what was going on. What Tony brought to it was really upping the attitude and the punk vibe of it with Cruella and just that conflict between the Baroness and Cruella. That dialogue and the amount of screen time they ended up getting, he devised that structure where she goes undercover for the second half of the movie, so they get to stay together on screen a lot. That was huge, to crack that. That's when it's fun, when the two of them in a room together."
Cruella, which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella (Emma Stone), a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella's flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, 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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