Meet the Villains of Lady and The Tramp

Following our screening of Disney's new live action remake of Lady and The Tramp, I had the opportunity with my fellow attendees of The Geekly Retreat to sit down with Yvette Nicole Brown (Aunt Sarah) and Adrian Martinez (Elliott) to talk about working with the furry stars of the film, their characters, and diversity in the film. These two were delightful and full of enthusiasm to share their perspective on a reimagining of this classic Disney film.

About Working with the Dogs

Both Brown and Martinez had nothing but wonderful things to say about working with their four-legged co-stars.  They each talked about the difficulty of being the "villain" to these sweet dogs.  Because their characters had to be so mean to the animals during filming, they spent some extra quality time playing with the dogs when the cameras weren't rolling so they knew not to really be fearful of Brown and Martinez.  Brown in fact was so moved during the film, that she adopted a dog herself to bring some of that puppy love home!

Their Characters

It may seem that a villain is a one-dimensional "bad guy" character that is just out to ruin lives.  However, the conversation we had with Brown and Martinez shed a different light on the villains from Lady and The Tramp.  Martinez talked about his character being "misunderstood."  He was a dutiful civil servant who truly felt like he was doing what needed to be done to keep the citizens of the city safe from wild and dangerous animals.  Brown also talked about the complexity of Aunt Sarah.  On the outside, it's easy to write her off as a cruel, cold woman, but when you look closer you see her doting on her niece and genuinely enthusiastic about the new arrival.  One of the lines that humanizes Aunt Sarah most was actually an ad lib by Brown.  In this version of the film, Jim Dear and Darling actually take Lulu with them when Aunt Sarah comes to housesit.  You can clearly see the hurt and disappointment in Aunt Sarah's eyes as the young couple races out of the door with their baby as soon as she arrives when Brown says "I didn't even get to hold her."  Looking at her through the lens of someone who is lonely and hurting, it becomes easier to relate to her character.  Those cats in the film though. . .they're just mean and manipulative if you want my opinion!
Photo From Walt Disney Studios

Diversity in the Film

One of the things that stands out about this film is the diverse casting.  As Disney has been re-imagining films for a live action reboot, this seems to be a trend. . .and it is very welcome and refreshing to see.  Both Martinez and Brown talked about the film's obligation to represent the world we live in and hopefully seeing this as a step towards the new normal.  Brown shares that "I think every child, no matter their race, or their sexual orientation. . .deserves to see someone that looks like them."  When asked how critics may respond to re-imagining some favorite Disney films, Brown points out that "there's enough love in our hearts to enjoy the 1955 classic and the 2019 classic" and notes that they don't need to cancel each other out.

Want to know more about Disney's Lady and The Tramp which is streaming on Disney+?  Check out my review and then tune in for yourself to see Yvette Nicole Brown, Adrian Martinez, and other terrific actors - both on two legs and four! - light up the screen in this remake of a film that has been delighting viewers for over 60 years.

About The Film

In Disney+'s "Lady and the Tramp," a timeless re-telling of the 1955 animated classic, a pampered house dog and a tough but lovable stray embark on an unexpected adventure and, despite their differences, grow closer and come to understand the value of home.  Life is good for Lady, an overachieving American Cocker Spaniel who resides in an upscale suburban neighborhood.  Her owners, Jim Dear and Darling, spoil her daily and her neighbors, Jock, an outspoken Scottish Terrier and Trusty, a world-weary Bloodhound, are always within barking distance.  But when a baby enters the picture, Lady is no longer the center of attention, and the arrival of cat-loving Aunt Sarah only complicates matters.  Lady soon finds herself alone on the streets in an unwelcoming part of town.  Fortunately, Tramp steps in, and the streetwise mongrel is quick to teach her the ways of the world.  Before long, the prim and proper pure bred and the fast-talking mutt are partaking in moonlit strolls in the park and romantic spaghetti dinners by candlelight.  Tramp savors the independence of a world without leashes or fences alongside his roguish friends Peg and Bull, but Lady misses the comfort and safety of a family, and soon both must decide where - and with whom - they belong.  A heartwarming romantic adventure that seamlessly combines live action and photorealism animation, "Lady and the Tramp" stars: Tessa Thompson as the voice of Lady and Justin Theroux as the voice of Tramp; Kiersey Clemons as Darling; Thomas Mann as Jim Dear; Janelle Monae as the voice of Peg; Yvette Nicole Brown as Aunt Sarah; and Sam Elliott as the voice of Trusty.  The film is directed by Charlie Bean from a screenplay by Andrew Bujalski and Kari Granlund, and is produced by Brigham Taylor with Diane L. Sabatini serving as executive producer.

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