Disney Villains is a separate Walt Disney Co. franchise which brings to life over 120 villains from Disney films, television shows, video games, books andresorts. In this five-part series, we take a look at our top 5 Disney villains! This week, the final spotlight..
“…And so he married again, choosing for his second wife a woman of good family with two daughters just Cinderella's age, by name, Anastasia and Drizella. It was upon the untimely death of this good man, however, that the stepmother's true nature was revealed. Cold, cruel, and bitterly jealous of Cinderella's charm and beauty, she was grimly determined to forward the interests of her own two awkward daughters. .."
Lady Tremaine, more commonly known as “The Wicked Stepmother,” is the cold, regal antagonist from Disney’s Cinderella. Unlike villains such as Maleficent, Lady Tremaine doesn’t possess any magical abilities: she is just a lady, and a dark, Machiavellian one at that. Lady Tremaine first appears in the literary version of Cinderella, penned by Charles Perrault. In the story, Lady Tremaine is a minor character, mentioned only at the beginning. It is through her daughters that Cinderella is mistreated.
In the film, the Wicked Stepmother is driven by uncontrolled jealousy toward her stepdaughter, who outshines her own awkward, shrill daughters in every way. Unlike most of the villains from the Disney canon, Lady Tremaine never lays a finger on Cinderella, physically. However, this doesn’t prevent her from inflicting a good amount of psychological damage through her forced slavery, passive aggressive nature and unjustified punishments. She also passively stands by while her daughters abuse her physically. Lady Tremaine’s sociopathic behaviour is also driven by her narcissistic need for status, and her drive to marry off one of her daughters to the prince in an attempt to marry into nobility. Above all else, Tremaine maintains composure and grace, even under the most stressful conditions – a stark difference from the nature of her stepdaughters who can’t even get through a music lesson without fighting.
The Wicked Stepmother maintains her poise at all times, using her sinister green-eyed glare to conceal her inner cruelty. She complements her ominous eyes by wearing green earrings green neck brooch, and a green ring on her left hand, all which bring out her withering stare. She is graceful in appearance, having aged well and maintained sharp features and a trim figure. Her hair is a regal tone of grey with a light streak in the middle, which she wears in a high pompadour.
Lady Tremaine appears immediately in the movie, introduced in the prologue of the film. Cinderella’s father is described as having married her in order to provide his daughter with a mother. After his death, Tremaine is denigrated to the role of servant, and is confined to a small bedroom at the top of a tower in her house. Throughout the film, The Wicked Stepmother is portrayed as cold and calculating, piling her stepdaughter with more work than is reasonable and blocking her ability to attend social engagements or interact with the outside world. Up until this point, her actions have been understated and discreet, but upon learning that Cinderella attended the ball in an act of disobedience, Tremaine locks her in her room to ensure that she does not identify herself as the mystery girl from the ball, to the Duke who visits the house.
Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2001)
Tremaine makes her second appearance in this direct-to-DVD sequel. In this film, her aristocratic narcissism is displayed even more potently in relation to her own daughters; specifically when she bans Anastasia to ever see a baker that she has fallen in love with.
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)
This latest, and arguably greatest, appearance has come to be appreciated and Tremaine’s most significant role. Displaying her most potent evil to date, Tremaine acquires the wand of the Fairy Godmother and uses it to reverse time, effectively undoing Cinderella’s “happily ever after”. She also enchants the glass slipper, so that it fits her own daughter, Anastasia. Her most horrifying act, is when she takes the entire charade a step further: transforming Anastasia’s appearance into that of Cinderella’s.
At the end of the film, Lady Tremaine are seen wearing ragged clothing and taking orders from the king. The audience is left with the satisfaction that Tremaine will spend the rest of her days working as a maid in the palace.
House of Mouse
Tremaine often appears in House of Mouse, with her daughters and her cat Lucifer. She can also be seen sitting with Queen Grimhilde, watching the show.
Once Upon a Time
In the live-action ABC series, Tremaine appears only once, with her daughters, in the enchanted forest. The scene takes place on the night of the ball. After the curse established by The Evil Queen, we are told that Tremaine lives with Drizella in StoryBrooke
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Lady Tremaine also appears in the live-action spin-off series, portrayed by Sarah-Jane Redmond. Just as in Cinderella II, Anastasia has chosen what Tremaine deems to be an unsuitable partner, and she ensures that her daughter and her lover will never leave for another world. When Anastasia does leave with her partner Will, they go through the looking glass, into Wonderland, where Anastasia becomes the Red Queen.
Portrayed by Cate Blanchett, Lady Tremaine is depicted as the quintessential villain, but with a much more human nature. She describes her first marriage as one of love, but her second as one of convenience. She is also shown as not initially hostile toward Cinderella, but turning this way after overhearing a private conversation between her husband and her step-daughter, which incites her jealous nature. She is also depicted as not having forced Cinderella into servitude until financial pressures meant she had to dismiss the house staff.
While she is still cruel to Cinderella, after her father’s death, Tremaine’s character in the live-action film has been praised for her self-awareness as a villain – evident in her confession that she lacks the goodness that Cinderella possesses. As in the animated film, Tremaine is elegant and poised, with refined taste and high hopes for her daughter’s to climb the social ladder of society.
Toward the end of the movie, Tremaine shows her true colours, and proposes a negotiation with Cinderella that she argues will benefit both parties. Cinderella and Kit (the prince) shall marry, at which time Ella will appoint Lady Tremaine as the head of the royal household, thus securing royal marriages for Drisella and Anastasia. When Ella rejects this scheme, Tremaine pulls a number of the Grand Duke, whom she blackmails into making her a countess and marrying off her daughters to wealthy husbands. In a final attempt to keep Cinderella from marrying the prince, she pulls the ‘mother card’, a statement to which Ella declares that “You are not my mother and you never will be.”
Disney Parks and Resorts
Lady Tremaine appears for meet-and-greets at the Disney resorts, as well as in the “Twice Charmed” show on the Disney Cruise Line.
- In the 2015 live action Disney film, Lady Tremaine is already of noble blood – a reason that is cited for the marriage with Cinderella’s father. In Ever After: A Cinderella Story, she is a baroness.
- Lady Tremaine makes an appearance on the special edition release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit
- Lady Tremaine is the first Disney villain to not be killed in any of her films, and is still one of only three who have survived her films – the others being Hans from Frozen and Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas.
- The Wicked Stepmother was nominated for a spot on the “AFI’s 50 Greatest Villains List” but didn’t make the roll.
- Lady Tremaine is often compared to Snow White’s Evil Queen for several reasons: They are both jealous of their stepdaughters, their husband’s both died leaving them widows and they both exhibit narcissistic behavior. While Queen Grimhilde’s narcissism is driven out of her preoccupation with appearance, Tremaine’s stems from her fixation with aristocracy and societal status.
- The only time that The Wicked Stepmother’s name is referred to in Cinderella (1950), is at the ball when she is announced. Up until this point her name has not been known. Her first name is never mentioned in any of her appearances.
- It is often speculated that Lady Tremaine killed her husbands. This theory is usually addressed in relation to her manipulative nature and the fact that all of her husband’s die. It also comes up in relation to the scene where Cinderella’s father is in bed ill, and Lady Tremaine stands by idly, and emotionless.
- Eleanor Audley who voiced the character also lent her voice to the character of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Madame Leota in the Disneyland attraction “The Haunted Mansion”.
- During the production of Disney’s live action film Into the Woods, it was originally suggested the The Wicked Stepmother role would be associated with Lady Tremaine – an idea which was later canned.
- Both Once Upon a Time and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland discuss Tremaine as having three daughters, not including her step-daughter Cinderella. This is interesting, since she appears to be too old to have more children, so one has to question where this third daughter came from.
To check out our range of villain figures and ornaments from Cinderella, go here
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