Get ready to see Cruella de Vil like you’ve never seen her before. The new film Cruella gives the classic Disney villain (played by Emma Stone) a devilishly fun backstory, depicting her as an ambitious young fashion designer rather than a ruthless puppy killer. Although Craig Gillespie’s live-action prequel might make you actually root for the infamous dognapper, there are still plenty of references that are bound to delight any longtime Disney fan. To help you get the most out of both movies, check out 11 of the 101 Dalmatians Easter eggs from Cruella you might have missed.
ICYMI: Cruella reimagines its titular villain as a budding fashion star who rose to fame in the midst of 1970s London’s punk rock scene. She starts off as an orphaned girl named Estella, who grew up in a gang of petty thieves while dreaming of creating one-of-a-kind looks. Her wish is seemingly granted when she’s hired to work for London’s premier designer, the elusive Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). But after discovering that her idol is a conniving narcissist with a disturbing connection to her late mother, Estella sets out to upstage the Baroness with a series of provocative fashion demonstrations attributed to her alter-ego: Cruella.
Audiences already know what a villainous figure Estella will transform into, so part of the fun is finding all the small nods to the events of 101 Dalmatians. Let’s break some of the most significant ones down below:
1. Anita and Roger
As any Disney fan knows, Anita (played in Cruella by Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Roger (Kavyan Novak) are the main human characters of 101 Dalmatians (while their Dalmatians Pongo and Perdita are the protagonists). Although the two lovebirds don’t actually meet in Cruella, they factor into the villain’s backstory in new and surprising ways.
As is the case in pretty much every 101 Dalmatians adaptation, Estella and Anita start off as old classmates. In this version, Anita grows up to become a reporter and photographer at a gossip magazine, and she reconnects with Estella as an adult. By documenting many of Estella’s provocative fashion statements, Anita plays a crucial role in helping her old friend’s fashion career and alter-ego Cruella gain widespread recognition. The two women are more allies than enemies when Cruella ends, but who knows how long their arrangement will last?
Roger also appears in a much more minor role, working as the Baroness’ downtrodden lawyer. By the end of the film, he’s fired and begins pursuing his musical career full-time, just like he is when audiences meet him in 101 Dalmatians.
2. Anita’s Last Name
In the original animated film, Anita’s maiden name is never mentioned — instead, she quickly becomes Anita Radcliffe when she and Roger get married. But in Cruella, it’s revealed that Anita’s last name is actually Darling. Cruella memorably calls Anita “darling” in 101 Dalmatians, but this revelation suggests she was calling her old friend by her full name all along.
3. Regent’s Park
Anita and Roger have their meet-cute at this real-life park in 101 Dalmatians, but it turns out their future nemesis has a strong emotional connection to it, too. Estella meets her best friends-turned-henchmen Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry) at Regent’s Park after arriving in London as a child. And as an adult, she frequently visits the park to mourn and even speak to her late mother.
4. Cruella’s Original Inspiration
Cruella’s mannerisms in the 1961 animated film were inspired by classic Hollywood actress Tallulah Bankhead. Eagle-eyed fans will notice that the 1944 Alfred Hitchcock film Lifeboat, which stars Bankhead, is playing during the scene where Estrella pretends to be a hotel maid.
5. Artie’s Introduction
When Estella first meets her new friend Artie (John McCrea), the fellow fashion lover tells her, “If you can dream it, you can dress it.” His remark sounds an awful lot like the iconic Disney phrase, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” While the quote is often attributed to Walt Disney himself, it was actually written by Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald for Epcot’s now-closed ride Horizons.
6. The Origin of Cruella’s Last Name
After Estella, Horace, and Jasper conduct a heist to steal her mother’s necklace back from the Baroness, they steal a coupé de ville — the exact same devilishly named car from which she derives her new last name. It’s also the same kind of car Cruella drives in both 101 Dalmatians and the two remakes starring Glenn Close: 1996’s 101 Dalmatians and 2000’s 102 Dalmatians.
7. Cruella’s Driving
One of the most memorable elements of Cruella’s character in 101 Dalmatians is her chaotic driving style. Cruella explains that the reason Estella drives so wildly is that, because she grew up as an orphan on the streets of London, she was never taught to drive properly.
Watching Estella tear down the streets of London after the heist is particularly fun once you realize the scene perfectly mirrors the climactic scene of 101 Dalmatians, in which Cruella pursues Pongo and Perdita one last time.
8. TV Time with Horace
You may recall that after the puppies are kidnapped in 101 Dalmatians, they sit around watching old TV shows with Horace and Jasper while awaiting slaughter. A similar scene unfolds in Cruella, after Estella further enrages the Baroness by kidnapping her three Dalmatians. After the deed is done, Horace sits and enjoys a show with the Dalmatians and the trio of thieves’ own two dogs, Buddy and Wink.
9. The “Dog Owners Looking Like Their Dogs” Scene
While Estella is meeting with Anita, Horace and Jasper wait outside and notice how some dog owners look just like their dogs. The moment is a direct callback to the first scene of 101 Dalmatians, in which Pongo makes the exact same observation while trying to a perfect match for Roger.
10. Hell Hall
Who could forget Hell Hall, the evil lair in which Cruella imprisons all those Dalmatian puppies in the cartoon? Well, it turns out the iconic mansion’s diabolical name wasn’t always quite so on the nose. It originally belonged to the Baroness, and was known as Hellman Hall. But after Cruella takes over the Baroness’ fortune, she spruces up her new home by taking the “man” off the mansion gate once and for all.
11. The Mid-Credits Scene
While Cruella works perfectly fine as a standalone prequel, it also featured an utterly unexpected lead-in to 101 Dalmatians. The film’s mid-credits scene shows Pongo and Perdita being individually delivered to Roger and Anita. But they’re actually gifts from Cruella, and may very well be related to the Baroness’ evil Dalmatians! That means Cruella helped orchestrate the couple’s meet-cute long before it happened, and played an even huger role in the original 101 Dalmatians than viewers ever realized. While nothing is confirmed, it certainly seems like a punk-rock sequel could be headed our way soon.