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Cruella director on the movie’s most talked-about scene: "It had to be this very aggressive moment"

Emma Stone in Cruella
(Image credit: Disney)

Everyone’s talking about Cruella. More specifically, everyone’s talking about that Cruella scene. You know the one: it’s been endlessly discussed and sent up on social media – and now director Craig Gillespie has opened up about what makes that moment tick, as well as alternate plans for the instantly iconic set-piece.

Spoilers for Cruella follow. You have been warned!

So, yeah. Cruella’s adopted mother is killed by Dalmatians. Wild. Early in the movie during a flashback, we see the then-Estella witness her mother being pushed over a cliff and to an early grave by a rabid pack of dalmatians. We later learn it was orchestrated by Cruella’s real mother Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), which goes some way to explaining the origins behind Cruella’s distaste for the animals.

If some early conversations had been heeded, the scene could have been very different, as Gillespie explained to Polygon (opens in new tab): "There were executives that said, ‘Well, maybe they can scare her, and she can sort of stumble.’ I’m like, ‘No.’ That’s splitting hairs. It had to be this very aggressive moment. It’s one of those places where you’re going to lean in."

And, thus, a meme was born – and sent Twitter abuzz. User SORROKI (opens in new tab) echoed the feelings of just about everyone when they said, "I’m so sorry but I thought it was a joke that Cruella's mom was killed by dogs but it’s real and I can’t process that like WHAT."

It may have seemed absurd to some but, in context, Gillespie felt the scene was warranted. "My editor and I talked about it a lot, the idea that it’s as shocking to the audience as it is to young Estella – the violence of that, and actually seeing what happens. I really wanted to lean into it in a gratifying way, and Disney never backed down from it once they saw it," he said.

Cruella is not the end of Disney’s desire to remake and re-imagine its classic properties. The Little Mermaid is getting a live-action remake, while a Margot Robbie-led Pirates of the Caribbean spinoff is also on the way. Find out what else Mickey Mouse has in store for cinemas with our guide to new Disney movies.

Bradley Russell
Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.