Emma Stone Talks ‘Cruella’ Transformation, New ‘Zombieland’ Sequel

Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive.

“It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village Theater in Westwood, Calif., on Thursday night. “It’s a different ball game.”

Many fans were stunned upon being given a first look at Stone’s punk-rock inspired interpretation of the character when Disney released an image from the upcoming prequel during this past summer’s D23 Expo.

“Well, I saw myself in the mirror getting ready, so I wasn’t that shocked,” Stone said of the first look. “It’s been really fun. We are in the middle of it right now so it’s still sort of hard to even talk about it. It’s been really, really cool.”

The long-awaited sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap” sees Stone reunited with her fellow zombie apocalypse survivors Abigail Breslin, Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson after ten years. The intervening decade had brought about many changes and achievements for the cast, including a best actress Oscar for Stone, but she remarked that it felt almost like no time had passed.

Popular on Variety

“It’s so much fun to be with all of these people again,” Stone said. “It’s such a joy and such a blast. It just felt like old times again, but everybody’s had all these great life experiences and there was so much more to share. It was really special.”

Thomas Middleditch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Zoey DeutchColumbia Pictures 'Zombieland: Double Tap' World Premiere at the Regency Village Theatre, Westwood, CA, USA - 10 October 2019
CREDIT: Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

Breslin, who was 13 years old when she starred in the first movie, told Variety that some cast members had trouble recognizing her post-puberty.

“Woody thought I was, like, a stalker when he first saw me,” Breslin said. “He didn’t know who I was. I was like, ‘Hi, Woody’ and he was like, ‘Uh, hi?’ I was like, ‘It’s Abby.’ He was like, ‘Oh, right!’ And same with Jesse a little bit. Emma remembered me though. They were all pretty shocked.”

Eisenberg told Variety that he hadn’t truly realized the lasting impact that the original “Zombieland” movie had on fans and on the zombie genre as a whole until the cast began their publicity tour for the sequel.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Eisenberg said. “It felt like this kind of very private thing when we were filming the movie and then I kind of realized it has this pop culture resonance and that people feel like it’s theirs as well as ours.”

The sequel also saw the introduction of new actors and characters to the original surviving foursome, including Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch. Dawson made her first premiere appearance with boyfriend and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker. The couple seemed relaxed as they cozied up for the cameras and Dawson laughed at the attention paid to Booker. “Hey, it’s my premiere!” Dawson exclaimed as Booker obliged a nearby crowd of autograph seekers.

A fan of the original movie, Deutch told Variety that she had trouble believing that the atmosphere on set was as enjoyable as it had appeared on-screen.

“I was happy to find out that my first instinct was correct,” Deutch told Variety. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had on set. It was such a life-affirming experience because these are my heroes, some of my favorite actors in the world and they were kind and so generous and so welcoming.”

Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who returned to pen the sequel, said they were thrilled that the original “Zombieland” was at the forefront of the zombie genre’s resurgence over the past decade.

“When I ran into Robert Kirkman from ‘Walking Dead,’ he said that the reason ‘Walking Dead’ made it on air was because of ‘Zombieland,’” Wernick told Variety. “It was their opportunity. People felt like, wow, zombies can actually be commercial and make money, so AMC rolled the dice. It was awesome to hear that.”

Though the sequel was ten years in the making, director Ruben Fleischer told Variety he isn’t ruling out a third installment.

“That would be beyond a dream come true,” Fleischer said. “I hope that in due time we will be able to make another one but only if the circumstances are right.”

More Film

  • Bong Joon Ho 'Parasite' Director

    Listen: Who Will Take Home the Oscars for Best Director and Picture?

    The Oscars are just two weeks away, so it’s time to start making final predictions about who is going to win. On this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, I invited the magazine’s deputy awards and features editor (and my “Pick of the Week” co-host) Jenelle Riley onto the show [...]

  • Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

    'Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets': Film Review

    “Smile for the camera, motherf—ers,” warns the graffiti outside the Roaring Twenties, a Las Vegas dive bar where spirits are high because the end is nigh. The boozers who’ve braved this dim red cave, in Bill and Turner Ross’ bitterly funny docufiction film “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” have signed on to play themselves in an [...]

  • Mucho Mucho Amor

    'Mucho Mucho Amor': Film Review

    What a fraud, you might have thought glimpsing astrologist Walter Mercado on TV in the ’90s. But you wouldn’t forget his face. The bejeweled and blonded psychic hotline pitchman looked like a sorcerer from outer space. Cristina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch’s giddily glittery documentary “Mucho Mucho Amor” traces the half-century that Mercado was a global [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Number of Black Oscar Nominees Hits 3-Year Low in 2020

    The Oscars’ failure to nominate any female directors has ignited a fierce backlash, as has the lack of diversity among top acting nominees. A deeper dive into the categories reveals that the number of black nominees hit a three-year low. Only five black people were nominated for Oscars in 2020. That’s down from 15 in [...]

  • Herself

    'Herself': Film Review

    In 2008, opera director Phyllida Lloyd’s pop-cornball big-screen debut, “Mamma Mia!,” more than earned its exclamation point, grossing more than $600 million worldwide. Three years later, her more serious-minded follow-up, “The Iron Lady,” earned Meryl Streep an Oscar. Most people would agree that was a not-too-shabby start for a helmer of any gender. But instead [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content