Daphne and Into the Badlands star Emily Beecham will join Emma Stone in Disney’s live-action 101 Dalmatians prequel Cruella centered around a younger Cruella de Vil, Deadline reported Friday. Beecham, who was named Best Actress at Cannes this year for her role as Alice in sci-fi drama Little Joe, is the latest addition following the previously announced Emma Thompson (Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast), Paul Walter Hauser (BlacKkKlansman) and Joel Fry (Paddington 2). Details behind Beecham’s role have not yet been revealed as plot and character details are being kept under wraps for this next project from director Craig Gillespie (The Finest Hours and I, Tonya).
At D23 Expo in August, where Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look at her dog-wrangling Cruella and cohorts Jasper (Fry) and Horace (Hauser), Stone said the film is set in the punk rock era of the 1970s. An “early days” origin tale, Cruella will explore how the future villainess came to desire fancy coats made from Dalmatian pups. According to Disney’s president of production Sean Bailey, who presented the film at the bi-annual convention, Cruella asks, “How did she get that way, and how did she get so cruel?”
Cruella is the second villain-centric big screen project in the works at Disney: the studio next debuts its Angelina Jolie-led Maleficent sequel, Mistress of Evil, October 18.
Bailey has credited Walt Disney Studios Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Alan Horn with the push for Disney to mine its animated library and re-imagine its most cherished animated classics — including Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, The Lion King and 101 Dalmatians — into newly translated live-action films.
“We were given an incredible opportunity to discover what we wanted to be as a live-action team. We were given a lot of latitude to think about what that was,” Bailey told Vulture in 2017. “We thought if Iron Man and Thor and Captain America are Marvel superheroes, then maybe Alice, Cinderella, Mowgli, and Belle are our superheroes, and Cruella and Maleficent are our supervillains. Maybe if there’s a way to reconnect with that affinity for what those characters mean to people in a way that gets the best talent and uses the best technology, that could become something really exciting. It feels very Disney, playing to the competitive advantages of this label.”
The studio has found great success with this approach: both Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin and Jon Favreau’s Lion King earned over $1 billion at the global box office earlier this year. Disney is now developing its live-action Little Mermaid and releases the live-action Mulan in March 2020.
Cruella is set for May 28, 2021.
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