Who Plays Cruella De Vil In The '90s 101 Dalmatians & What Was Her MCU Role?

Long before the days of Disney's onslaught of live-action remakes of its animated library, 1996's "101 Dalmatians" sought to breathe new life into the beloved 1961 film of the same name. Perhaps the most necessary ingredient in reimagining the animated classic was finding the perfect performer to play fashion-crazed puppy killer Cruella de Vil, a role originally voiced by Betty Lou Gerson. To say they found a fitting piece of casting would be an understatement — and it wouldn't be her last time working with the Mouse House.

The part went to now-eight-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close. Much like her animated counterpart, Close's Cruella is the fur-loving owner of a fashion design company who becomes obsessed with the prospect of wearing Dalmatian fur. Alongside her bumbling henchmen Horace (Mark Williams) and Jasper (Hugh Laurie), she traps several Dalmatian puppies at her estate before they escape and outwit her. Close initially declined the part when approached while starring in a Broadway show, until costume designer Anthony Powell managed to change her mind. She reprised her iconic role in the 2000 sequel "102 Dalmatians" and executive produced the 2021 Emma Stone-starring "Cruella." 

Outside of providing the voice for Kala in 1999's "Tarzan," Close's next live-action role under Disney wouldn't come until nearly 20 years later, with Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy." At the start of the James Gunn-directed trilogy, she stars as Irani Rael, the leader of the Nova Corps. With the aid of the Guardians, she sees her people to victory against Ronan the Accuser's (Lee Pace) attack on Xandar. Much like with her "Dalmatians" role, this wouldn't be Close's last time starring in the franchise.

Glenn Close reprised her role in a Disney Parks attraction

Glenn Close's appearance as Irani Rael in "Guardians of the Galaxy" was a long time coming for the actress. In a 2020 interview with Vanity Fair, the "Fatal Attraction" star shared that getting the role was a dream come true, saying, "I've always wanted to be in a superhero movie, and I'd love to be in another one. I just love that whole thing. It's like going back to when I was 6 years old." While Rael doesn't appear in the final two "Guardians" films, Close's aspiration to be involved in another superhero-centric journey was realized with a recently introduced Disney World attraction.

In May 2022, "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" opened at Epcot at Walt Disney World. The enclosed rollercoaster — the first Marvel attraction at Walt Disney World — takes visitors on a ride across the cosmos with the Guardians. Along with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, and Dave Bautista being brought back to their respective roles, Close returns as Irani Rael. She primarily appears in a pre-show segment, where she shares some similarities between Earth and Xandar before teleporting visitors onto a Nova ship. A starblaster and dedicated plaque from Rael sit outside of the Xanadrian outpost, reading, "From Our World To Yours: This Starblaster is presented as a gift from the Nova Corps to the people of Terra. May it, like EPCOT, serve to inspire peace through understanding." 

Whether she's playing hero or villain, Glenn Close's talent always manages to shine through.