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Do We Really Need a “Young” Version of Cruella De Vil?

Emma Stone attends the opening night premiere of "The Favourite" during the 56th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on September 28, 2018 in New York City.

Emma Stone, Academy Award winner, is apparently in talks to play a young bad-girl version of Cruella De Vil in an upcoming 101 Dalmatians prequel about the fur-wearing animal kidnapper and murderer, according to Jezebel. I can only speak for myself, but when I heard news of this casting, my reaction was primarily “her?”

This isn’t a criticism of Stone’s acting skills, as even though I loathe almost every aspect of La La Land, I have enjoyed Stone in many other things, including Battle of the Sexes, which made me cry. It’s a criticism of the inability of movies to allow actresses over 35 to star in roles that would be better vehicles for them than their younger counterpart. 

In the ’90s, Disney made a live-action 101 Dalmatians movie starring the epic Glenn Close (who has never won an Oscar and currently has more nominations without a win than any other living actor) as Cruella. For a movie that was largely unremarkable, what most people remember it for was Close’s performance and the looks she served.

Also maybe Hugh Laurie.

Close was nominated for a Golden Globe for it, and it’s the kind of delightful role that showed her ability to be both a comedic actress and very scary in a children’s movie, much like Anjelica Huston in The Witches.

Emma Stone playing a “punk rock” Cruella is just an uninteresting casting and creative choice for a character who is essentially a British high fashion diva sociopath. First of all, we don’t even need this as a product; we already have Maleficent doing villain backstory, so unless they’re going to do an Ursula origin tale, they can keep the whole prequel thing.

From the books and multiple different source materials, we know that Cruella is in her 60s, ridiculously wealthy, and that in the book incarnation, she was married to a man who she made take her last name (icon) and was cold, detached, and abusive. 

It’s a great vampy role that would be perfect for an actress like Michelle Gomez, Eva Green, Ruth Wilson, etc. Emma Stone is not starving for roles at the moment, just getting off the huge press for The Favorite and Netflix’s Maniac.

During a Porter interview (video in the tweet below), actress Gabrielle Union spoke about how she was up for a role that another black actress was turned down for because she had asked for more money. Union explained how she asked for even more money and spoke to the next black woman down the chain of those up for that role, who then did the same.

In the end, the original actress got the role with the pay she asked for, and Union explained that “I lose nothing” in ensuring that someone else gets paid because that role was never “hers.”

This is a mentality that some successful younger actresses need to understand when they’re offered roles that are intended to be played by much older women (a la Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, playing a character who was meant to be older than Bradley Cooper), especially when said actresses are outspoken about gender issues in Hollywood. Part of advocating on those issues is also helping other women who will be disadvantaged because of the sexist system when you have the security to do so.

It’s unfair that the responsibility for that falls on individuals, but if Gabrielle Union can do it as she fights sexism, ageism, racism, AND colorism, then there’s no reason why an Oscar-winning actress like Emma Stone can’t, as well. 

(via Jezebel, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images/Walt Disney)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.