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Emma Stone Says Playing Cruella Was A 'Respite From Herself'

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Emma Stone Says Playing Cruella Was A 'Respite From Herself'

She's widely regarded as one of the nicest women in Hollywood, it may come as a surprise to hear just how much Emma Stone relished playing Cruella de Vil, the Disney arch-villain with a murderous cackle who's best known for skinning puppies and wearing them as furs.

But that's exactly what appealed to the 32-year-old who, despite being halfway through a gruelling global publicity tour to promote Disney's new live-action prequel, is all polite smiles and reassuring nods when Tyla meets her on Zoom.

"There's something about not worrying about social niceties," she explains. "Like, I don't care about anybody - this is who I am. That is definitely not my daily experience and it was really, really fun to play.

"Once you're in it, it's almost a bummer to get out of it. You're like, ugh, well, back to me. There's a real respite from being yourself in Cruella."

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Emma Stone plays the wickedly evil villain in the new live-action prequel Cruella (Credit: Disney)
Emma Stone plays the wickedly evil villain in the new live-action prequel Cruella (Credit: Disney)

Fans are already drawing comparisons between her and Glenn Close who played Cruella in the 1996 version, and Emma clearly felt she had big boots to fill.

"I tried not to watch her movie," she admits. "I'd seen it when I was a kid but I didn't want to do some pale, lame comparison to her brilliant performance. I knew I had to make it my own if it was going to make any sense for me to play that character."

Famously tight-lipped about her personal life, she recently welcomed her first child with husband Dave McCary and has spent the last few weeks politely dodging questions on motherhood from journalists.

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Emma knew she had big boots to fill when taking on the role of Cruella (Credit: Disney)
Emma knew she had big boots to fill when taking on the role of Cruella (Credit: Disney)

But one thing she remains vocal about is sexism in Hollywood - whether it's demanding equal pay or calling out lazy gender stereotypes during interviews.

Now nearly 20 years years into her career, with countless accolades and an Oscar win under her belt, I ask whether she feels particularly drawn to portraying rebel women on screen.

"It's just more interesting to play, it's more fun," she says. "And much more realistic I think. I think characters that are more complex and have more sides - that screw up and do have some nasty traits and kind qualities and all of those different facets - are much more human than a straight-up ingénue who's like, Here I am, my eyes are shining! you know?"

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We see Cruella's origin story in the new Disney prequel (Credit: Disney)
We see Cruella's origin story in the new Disney prequel (Credit: Disney)

'Complex' is an understatement; while Cruella's latest incarnation certainly has a wicked edge, we also see her origins from an grief-stricken orphan who scrapes a living by picking pockets on the streets of 1970s London. This Cruella has no murderous intentions towards her canine friends; in fact, she opts for faux fur when it comes to her iconic wardrobe.

When we leave her she's a young woman on the cusp of fashion world domination with a ragtag band of friends and a pet dog to boot - so how does she get from there to the Disney supervillain we all love to hate?

The movie charts Cruella's upbringing on the streets of 1970s London (Credit: Disney)
The movie charts Cruella's upbringing on the streets of 1970s London (Credit: Disney)
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Emma admits there's an 'ambiguity' to the character: "You wonder, where will she go with this when she gets older? Was that a misunderstanding that we had with 101 Dalmatians?

"That's an open-ended question in case we ever get the chance to tell more of the story. I want to keep that one open-ended."

If that's not crying out for a sequel we don't know what is.

Cruella is in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access for a onetime additional fee on Friday, May 28

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Featured Image Credit: Disney/ Tyla

Unity Blott
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