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Disney's Cruella - What We Know So Far

Move over, Joker and Maleficent. There's a new cartoonish villain ready to take the spotlight. 

We've known that a movie about Cruella de Vil, the canine-hunting socialite from 101 Dalmatians, has been in the works for a while — with La La Land and The Favourite star Emma Stone in the lead role. Thanks to a poster and brand-new trailer for Cruella, released in mid-February 2021, we have even more information about this latest villain origin story.

After making her debut in the pages of author Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella was first introduced to movie viewers in the 1961 Disney animated classic 101 Dalmatians, where she served as the chief antagonist who famously hatches a plot to kidnap and skin a whole lot of puppies to make herself a luxurious coat. That act of villainy has made the character one of the most notorious movie baddies of all time. Cruella even made it onto the villains side of AFI's "100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains" list, placing just above Freddy Kruger.

Voice actress Betty Lou Gerson portrayed Cruella in the animated film, while Glenn Close was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal in the live-action adaptation of 101 Dalmatians. We'll have to wait and see if Stone has similar success in the role, but for now, here's everything we know so far about Cruella.

The release date for Cruella is sooner than you'd think

It may be strange to hear these days, but Cruella's premiere date has not been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The movie did originally have a release date of December 23, 2020, but back in August 2019 (months before the virus was first detected), Disney moved the premiere to May 28, 2021 (via Deadline). That date weathered the pandemic, and barring any last minute changes, it's when Cruella will be released via ... well, that part isn't quite clear.

With big releases like Mulan and Soul making their debut on Disney+, it seems like a given that Cruella will follow the same path. Cruella was one of the movies mentioned in a November 2020 Deadline report about Disney potentially shifting a portion of its upcoming releases to the streaming service. But neither the trailer nor the poster for Cruella gave any indication about whether the movie will be released only in theaters, only on Disney+, or to both.

It could be that Disney is waiting to see what things are like in May before announcing whether Cruella will follow its other big tentpole films to Disney+. Either way, the movie will be available somewhere on May 28, 2021.

The cast of Cruella: Who's rumored and who's confirmed to appear

As the title of the movie suggests, Cruella's focus is on the eponymous freaky fashionista, and unless you've been living under a pile of furs, you already know that she'll be played by Oscar-winner Emma Stone. But just because she's the star of the show doesn't mean Cruella is the only big character in the movie. Furthermore, Stone isn't the only Oscar-winning Emma in the Cruella cast. Cruella's arch-nemesis is a maven of the London fashion world known as the Baroness, and she's played by two-time Oscar winner and Love Actually star Emma Thompson.

The movie will also feature several other characters from 101 Dalmatians. Cruella's bumbling criminal henchmen, Jasper and Horace, will be played by Game of Thrones' Joel Fry and Cobra Kai's Paul Walter Hauser, respectively. Meanwhile, Emily Beecham of Into the Badlands is playing Cruella's old friend — and future Dalmatian owner — Anita.

There are rumors that Oscar-nominated Lion star Dev Patel was approached to play Anita's future husband Roger, aka Raj (via HN Entertainment). That particular bit of casting hasn't been officially confirmed, and Patel wasn't featured in the film's first trailer. It's possible that the role will be a fun surprise cameo, perhaps even one that sets up a sequel, but we won't know until Disney confirms — or until we get our eyes on the film, whichever comes first.

What to expect from Cruella's origin story

How does one become the type of person who tries to steal a litter of puppies for the purposes of turning them into a coat? Cruella will attempt to answer that question by giving viewers a look into the earlier exploits of the eccentric villain as she tries to make a name for herself in the fashion scene of 1970s London. In fact, according to the film's official synopsis, we'll be meeting Cruella when she's still going by the name Estella, who's described as a "young grifter" (via Collider).

Viewers get a healthy dose of Cruella's criminal predilections in the film's first trailer. Not only does she ruffle the feathers of high society by making a fiery entrance at a gala (literally), but Cruella is also seen hot-wiring cars, throwing graffiti-laced public fashion shows, filling a bank vault with what appears to be locusts, and even blowing up a building in the heart of London.

The movie is also noted as taking place in the midst of the emerging punk-rock scene, and the poster's use of the anarchy symbol for the A in Cruella's name feels like an homage to that. It looks like Cruella is set to give us a messy, complicated, and, above all else, chic look at one of cinema's greatest villains.