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‘Cruella’ Cast and Character Guide: Who Plays Who in the Disney Live-Action Prequel

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‘Cruella’ Cast and Character Guide: Who Plays Who in the Disney Live-Action Prequel

Cruella De Vil is undeniably one of the most iconic villains within the Disney realm. Her strong personality, unforgettable cackle, and obsession with puppy-skin fabrics will take on a new shape in the new live-action prequel, Cruella. Following a similar approach to Maleficent, their live-action reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, Disney will once again uncover a villain’s past, taking a more sympathetic approach to the upbringing that influenced Cruella’s devious nature. In this case, they will rewind to the 70s punk era and show how a young fashion designer Estella (Emma Stone) started her career and increasingly became the Cruella we know in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

And we don’t just meet the young Cruella! The film also introduces the characters who play a part in her path to infamy, including plenty of familiar names from Disney’s beloved 1961 animated film and a few new original characters, too. The Cruella cast includes both acclaimed Hollywood actors and rising stars, so we’ve put together a handy guide to all the main characters, how they tie into the original film, who’s playing them, and where you might have seen them before.

RELATED: ‘Cruella’ Costume Designer Jenny Beavan Explains How She Made Pre-Dalmatian Fashion for the Disney Prequel

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Emma Stone as Estella, a.k.a., Cruella De Vil

Estella is an ambitious up-and-coming designer stepping into haute couture without the fear of risks. From an early age, she notices that she is different from everyone else and tries to fit into society’s moral standards while embracing the outsider qualities that make her such an inspired designer. However, as the film progresses, we can expect to see Estella slowly embrace her dark side, which will both elevate her talents as a fashionista and bring her closer to her new identity as Cruella.

Emma Stone has been attached to play Cruella since 2016, and the film marks her debut on the Disney scene. Over the years, she’s built a resume of roles that showcase her ability to channel different genres, from her breakout roles in comedies like Easy A and Zombieland to becoming an awards favorite in dramas like Birdman, The Favourite, and La La Land, the latter of which earned her a Best Actress Oscar win. From wearing a scarlet letter to dancing through Los Angeles, Emma Stone has proven she has what it takes to wear the black and white wig, following the highly praised Glenn Close performance in Disney’s 1996 live-action 101 Dalmatians.

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Emma Thompson as Baroness von Hellman

The Baroness is the head of the celebrated London fashion house where Estella works early in her career as a designer, and her character is more in line with what we traditionally expect from Cruella herself, absent of any remorse or goodwill. She is a pivotal part in Estella’s development into Cruella, both a rival and mentor who doles out advice on being ruthless in order to succeed in the fashion empire. She is not only Cruella’s archnemesis, but she also acts as a mirror to the unempathetic nature that is latent in Cruella’s character. Her unintentional influence over Cruella will make her an opponent in the competition for “best” in the runway game. She also has dark ties to Estella’s past, and more than a few secrets up her perfectly-tailored sleeves.

Emma Thompson was one of the first actors added to the cast in 2019, after director Craig Gillespie boarded the film. The two-time Oscar winner will wear extravagant outfits and corsets designed by Mad Max: Fury Road costume designer Jenny Beavan, who has designed costumes for Thompson several times, including Howards End and Sense and Sensibility. Thompson has also worked with Disney several times over the years, having starred as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in the 2013 drama Saving Mr. Banks, as well as voicing characters in Treasure Planet, Brave, and most recently, her portrayal as Mrs. Potts in the 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast. Thompson is also an acclaimed screenwriter, earning an Oscar nomination for her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, as well as writing scripts for Nanny McPhee and Bridget Jones’s Baby.


Joey Fry as Jasper

Jasper will be familiar to any fan of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, as one-half of Cruella’s henchmen duo. But in Cruella, we meet Jasper before he became one of the dalmatian-kidnapping crooks, when he was one of Estella’s closest friends and sidekicks.

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In this adaptation, Joel Fry will be playing the thief, and the actor says he hasn’t looked too closely at the animation to draw inspiration for the character aside from the character’s iconic physicality and one particular detail. In an interview with comicbook, Fry explained, “I just thought about the thin arms and legs and the fact that Jasper didn’t have much patience for Horace’s talking.” This year, the British actor also starred in Ben Wheatley‘s In the Earth, and he’s previously appeared in Danny Boyle‘s musical rom-com Yesterday and in the HBO hit series Game of Thrones as Hizdahr zo Loraq, a member of Daenerys’ inner council in Meereen.


Paul Walter Hauser as Horace

The other half of Cruella’s sidekick duo, Horace is one of Cruella’s comrades and closest friends, who eventually goes on to steal the dalmatians alongside Jasper. The live-action adaptation will be showcasing the beginning of his and Jasper’s relationship with Cruella and help viewers understand the background story behind their partnership.

Paul Walter Hauser plays Horace in Cruella, and the actor has been popping up left and right in recent years. Hauser recently played the title character in Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell, appeared in Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods, and starred as Raymond in Season 2 of Cobra Kai. He previously worked with Cruella’s director Craig Gillespie in I, Tonya.

Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Anita Darling

Another character pulled directly from the original animated film, Anita is one of the main characters in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, who meets and falls in love with her husband Roger thanks to her beloved pet dalmatian, Perdita. In the 1961 film, Perdita and Pongo have a litter of fifteen, who are among the puppies kidnapped by Cruella De Vil. In Cruella, we meet Anita as an up-and-coming reporter, who finds herself in between the film’s two mavens while doing her job. A childhood friend of Estella’s from school, Anita encounters her again as an adult after her former schoolmate adopts the mantle of Cruella. Anita will be one of the few characters we know for sure is a kind-hearted, good person, and according to the promo poster, she will surely be watching out for the truth.

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The character is played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who has been stealing scenes in recent TV favorites like Killing Eve, Barry, The Good Place, and Why Women Kill. This year, the actress also starred in the film Happily and, most recently, she was cast as Death in the long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Kayvan Novak as Roger

Anita’s future husband Roger, another character familiar from the animated classic, will also appear in Cruella. In One Hundred and One Dalmatians, he is Pongo’s owner, and along with Anita, eventually adopts all 101 of the kidnapped puppies. However, since this is a prequel, we meet him long before he and Anita fall in love. In fact, he’s a lawyer working for The villainous Baroness.

In Cruella, young Roger is played by Kayvan Novak, who is perhaps best known to American audiences for his hilarious performance as the vampire Nandor in FX’s What We Do in the Shadows series. He’s also appeared in Four Lions, voiced Brains (and multiple other characters) in the animated series Thunderbirds Are Go, and he received a BAFTA in 2008 for his comedy series Fonejacker.


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John McCrea as Artie

Another character with a passion for fashion, Artie owns a vintage shop and sparks up a friendship with Estella, helping her transform into Cruella. Artie is a new addition to the narrative, who did not appear in the original animated film or the live-action 90s remake, but he’s an immediate standout in the film.

Artie is played by John McCrea, who describes the character as someone who lives by their own rules and is “completely well-adjusted, very happy, and has a real lust for life.” In an interview with Attitude, McCrea confirmed he played the character as queer, telling the outlet, “It depends on who you’re asking I suppose – but for me, yes, it’s official: he’s queer,” noting that the character was written as a drag queen in an early version of the script. Disney has not commented. A theater breakout after starring in the stage production Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, McCrea is relatively new to screen performances, having appeared in the TV series Giri/Haji and a small role in BBC One and Netflix’s 2020 Dracula miniseries. McCrea’s scene-stealing performance in Cruella might be his breakout role.


Emily Beecham as Catherine

Cruella will shed light on the villain’s past, including her childhood. With this in mind, we will get to know her mother, Catherine. The character is brand new, so audiences are still unfamiliar with her and the impact she had on Cruella’s upbringing. However, we do know that Emily Beecham will be playing the part. In 2019, Beecham won the Best Actress award for her performance in Little Joe at the Cannes Film Festival. This year, she appeared alongside Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris in the Netflix sci-fi film Outside the Wire. She also starred as The Widow in AMC’s martial arts series Into the Badlands and has been confirmed in Netflix’s upcoming series1899.

Mark Strong as John the Valet

In the same way that Jasper and Horace have Cruella’s back, so does John the Valet have the Baroness’. He may or may not be just as cruel as his boss, but one thing is for certain; he is very loyal. British actor Mark Strong will be portraying the mysterious character and he is popularly known for being the “bad guy” on-screen in films like Kick-Ass, Green Lantern, and Sherlock Holmes. Recently, Strong played villain Dr. Silvania in Shazam!, and he recently announced in an interview with Fatherly that he won’t be in the film’s sequel, with Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu taking over as the new big bads.

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Cruella arrives in theatres and on Disney + simultaneously on May 28.


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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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