Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Vivian From Cinderella Looks So Familiar

 Amazon's "Cinderella" is the latest version of the legendary fairy tale, and as the first full-length trailer of the upcoming movie reveals, it's also one of the more gleefully reimagined ones. Cinderella (Camila Cabelo) is now most interested in following her dreams of establishing herself as a dressmaker and gaining independence, there are some truly elaborate dance numbers, and the world is populated by famous figures in surprising roles — think James Corden as one of the footman mice, and "Pose" standout Billy Porter as Cinderella's fairy godparent, Fab G.  

Of course, this is still a fairy tale, so as the good people change, the bad ones dig down their heels and remain gloriously corrupt. A classic fairy tale hinges heavily on a good villain, and as with everything else, Amazon's "Cinderella" seems set to deliver on that front. This version of the story's evil stepmother, Vivian, is an outwardly sophisticated lady who deftly balances the line between passive-aggressive overbearing and actively aggressive ruining of Cinderella's dress. It's a role that requires a deft balance between theatrical drama and nuance — and as it happens, the actress bringing her to life is an expert on both fronts. 

We'll see just how devious Vivian from "Cinderella" truly is when the movie premieres on September 3. As we wait, let's take a look at where you might have seen her before.

Idina Menzel is Maureen Johnson in "Rent"

You're quite likely already familiar with Idina Menzel's voice, thanks to her stellar voice acting role of a certain frosty princess in Disney's "Frozen" and its sequel. Still, her career is far more than just Elsa and "Let It Go." Per Broadway.com, Menzel is a superstar stage performer who won a Tony award for her turn as Elphaba — a heavily reimagined version of the Wicked Witch of the West — in "Wicked." 

Knowing this, it's hardly shocking that one of her first major big-screen roles was a film adaptation of her breakthrough musical, "Rent." Menzel reprises her famous role as lawyer Joanne's (Tracie Thoms) girlfriend, performance artist Maureen Johnson. The role is an incredibly important one for Menzel. "Maureen showed me I could be funny," she told Playbill in 2021. "She reaffirmed the belief I had in myself that I had what it took to make it in this business."

Idina Menzel is Shelby Corcoran in Glee

Fox's "Glee" being a well-liked (via Rotten Tomatoes) musical show, it makes perfect sense that one of the biggest musical stars around popped up in the series before long. Idina Menzel entered the show as Shelby Corcoran, a recurring character who could have turned out to be something of an antagonist, thanks to her role as the director of the New Directions' rival group, Vocal Adrenaline. 

However, while she's a bit of a workaholic, Shelby turns out to be a nuanced, level-headed person who might have her share of plot twists and turns, but ranks among the more sensible characters in the series. Most importantly, she turns out to be the biological mother of the series' main character, Rachel (Lea Michele). 

Before Menzel joined the show, fans were campaigning for her casting as Rachel's mother (per The Hollywood Reporter). However, the legitimate Broadway legend's appearance as the mother of the nascent "Glee" star wasn't just stunt casting, as Menzel played the role with nuance and finesse — even though she found the role surprisingly tough for personal reasons. 

"The gig came three months after I popped a baby out, so I felt fat as all hell, and I was Lea Michele's mom — like, could I just be her older sister?" Menzel said to Broadway World about playing the mother of a character whose actress was just 15 years younger than her. "[Michele] wasn't as young as she was playing [on the show], so it was like, really, I'm her mom? So it wasn't good for my ego, I'll be completely honest. I was happy to be there and work with those people, but I had to get over myself a little bit."

Idina Menzel is Dinah Ratner in Uncut Gems

In 2019, Idina Menzel appeared in "Uncut Gems," an acclaimed movie that had very little to do with singing and absolutely nothing to do with fantasy — unless you count the fantasies of her character's husband, the indebted jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler). Menzel plays Dinah Ratner, Howard's soon-to-be-ex-wife, who's thoroughly frustrated and disgusted by Howard's various hustles and general untrustworthiness. 

Filmmaking, it turns out, can be a funny business. Though "Uncut Gems" was a total critical darling (via Rotten Tomatoes) and arguably the most serious film Menzel has appeared in, the actress found a surprisingly fun and simple method to figure out how Dinah should portray her unwillingness to watch Howard wallow in his various vices and bad decisions (per Decider). "I just approached her like myself, but three tequilas in," Menzel jokingly revealed. "[It's] what my accent usually is late at night, after a couple of drinks. So that was my method!"