- “Cinderella will be put in her place.”
- ―Lady Tremaine
Lady Tremaine (also known as the "Wicked Stepmother") is the main antagonist of the Cinderella trilogy.
As the arch-enemy of Cinderella, Lady Tremaine doesn't harm her stepdaughter physically. Rather, she seeks to punish and abuse her psychologically, motivated by her jealousy of Cinderella being far more beautiful and graceful than her own awkward daughters Anastasia and Drizella. Lady Tremaine is also a socialite, determined to gain higher status by marrying one of her daughters to Prince Charming or another bachelor of noble blood.
Significance in Story
Thomas commented that Lady Tremaine was the driving force throughout the film, and that she had to be believable, even though she was far from human, to be considered a serious threat to the realistically animated Cinderella. The fights between Lucifer and the mice could be seen to reflect the (much less physical) conflict between their human counterparts, Lady Tremaine and Cinderella.
Like all of the character animators for "Cinderella" (excluding Ward Kimball, who animated Lucifer and the Mice), Thomas used live-action footage as reference when drawing the frames of animation. Eleanor Audley, dressed as Lady Tremaine, was filmed performing every action the character was required to make; the individual frames from this footage were then placed under animation paper. The actions were not traced exactly, but used as guidelines.
Whenever the photostats were followed too closely, or a piece of human action was directly copied, the results seemed to the animators to lose the 'illusion of life'. The live-action reference was therefore used primarily to suggest to the animator movements and mannerisms, he may not have thought of otherwise. These were then applied to the animated character within their context. Thomas praised Audley's cold, regal performance, the inspiration for his animation of the character.
Unlike most other Disney Villains, Lady Tremaine doesn't possess any magical powers (barring her use of the Fairy Godmother's wand in Twist in Time) or exert any physical force. She strongly believes in maintaining grace and self-control, reminding her daughters of this when the two fight during their music lesson. The only time she herself breaks this rule is, ironically, at the point when Cinderella interrupts the music lesson to bring Lady Tremaine the invitation to the Royal Ball (at which point she frustratedly slams her hands onto the keys of the piano). She has a sinister glare and is very cruel to Cinderella; an example is when she silences her harshly twice when ordering Cinderella to do chores in the chateau. She even does the same to Anastasia and Drizella occasionally.
She holds a great envy towards her stepdaughter simply for her beauty and wholesome charm, so she treats her stepdaughter like a servant in her own home. A tyrant who employs subtle methods, she is deviously manipulative in controlling Cinderella by maintaining a sham benevolence in her authority of the household; she never physically abuses Cinderella and leaves that to her daughters instead. For example, when she slyly noted that Cinderella fixed up her dress with the help of Drizella's beads and Anastasia's sash, her daughters took the initiative to rip Cinderella's dress to shreds. She then cruelly bid Cinderella "good night" (since she couldn't go to the ball in rags), ultimately maintaining her ostensible fairness. By Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, however, she was implied to have become physically abusive, specifically towards Anastasia; Drizella briefly suggested she and Lady Tremaine beat Anastasia with a stick she had found.
Almost all of Tremaine's actions are motivated by a narcissistic hunger for prestige, as she wants to marry her daughters off to those on the top of the social-ladder. Tremaine expects her daughters to be utterly obedient and is infuriated when they are not, as seen when Anastasia chose not to marry Prince Charming.
In the Kingdom Hearts games, she is also shown to be quite reckless when she doesn't get her way, as evidenced by her summoning an Unversed to kill Cinderella and Aqua, apparently neither being aware or even caring if the Unversed in question harms her or her daughters in the crossfire.
In the live-action re-imagining of the original film, however, Lady Tremaine was portrayed as being more than a villain. She is still a cruel, jealous and spiteful stepmother to Cinderella, but the movie also explored a human side to her, which fortifies her character as a believable individual. For instance, though her methods were underhanded, she defended her daughters whenever they displayed embarrassing behavior, and she was determined to have them both make good marriages that guaranteed them of financially secure futures. She also admitted during a confrontation that she was jealous of Cinderella's youth, innocence and goodness, as it represented all that she was not. This demonstrates the self-awareness she has as a villain.
Lady Tremaine appears to be older, but has aged quite well. She has very sharp facial features including a notably large hooked nose with pronounced creases on both sides of it. She has green eyes which are notably quite fierce and evil-looking when she is angered or has evil thoughts in mind and she wears green orb-shaped earrings to contrast her eye color. She has gray hair (with a small light gray streak in the middle) worn in a high heart-shaped pompadour. Her casual and most commonly seen set of clothes consists of a large crimson gown with a golden brooch near her neck that has a green gem in it and the gown has a high purple collar with extended purple sleeves (She wears a purple version of this outfit in the third film). She wears a large green ring on her right ring finger that matches her earrings and brooch, and in the finale certain close ups show her nails are painted a lavender hue to compliment her sleeves. Her formal attire (which she wears to the ball) is a long purple gown with short sleeves.
In the live-action re-imagining of the original film, despite being the mother of two fully-grown daughters, Lady Tremaine is a beautiful and elegant woman with red hair and blue eyes, and is always fashionably-dressed. For the royal ball, she wore a gown made of emerald green taffeta with gold inserts, a pair of gold satin gloves, and her hair was embellished with three golden feathers.
Lady Tremaine is introduced in the prologue of the film. Young Cinderella's father, a widower, desperate for his daughter to have a mother figure, married Lady Tremaine, who is described as "a woman of good family", with two daughters of her own, and a cat named Lucifer. Lady Tremaine showed her true colors when Cinderella's father died, mistreating Cinderella while spending extravagantly on her biological daughters Anastasia and Drizella in hopes of molding them in her own image but also spoiling them as a result.
After the prologue, it is revealed that Cinderella has become a coerced servant in her own home and lives in a small room at the top of the tower in her house. An incident occurs in which Anastasia finds a mouse inside her teacup (Lucifer deliberately caused this to happen when he chased Gus). Lady Tremaine responds by piling a further order of chores on Cinderella as punishment. She then, as a sense of poetic justice on Lucifer, adds onto the pile the request to give the cat a bath.
Lady Tremaine consents that Cinderella may attend the Royal Ball - that is, if she can finish all her chores and find a suitable dress. She then proceeds to heap chore after chore on Cinderella. Despite this, when Cinderella appears ready for the ball in a suitable dress (her mother's, altered to be more fashionable by her mice and bird friends), Lady Tremaine indirectly (but intentionally) points out that Cinderella is wearing Drizella's old beads and Anastasia's old sash that they threw away earlier in the day. This prompts Drizella and Anastasia to viciously tear Cinderella's dress apart, leaving her unable to attend the ball. When Cinderella, with the help of the Fairy Godmother, nevertheless attends the ball, her stepfamily does not recognize her. This was because of a combination of their belief that Cinderella was at home with her dress in tatters, the fact that Cinderella's new dress was in a different style from her old one, and the fact she was made up so very differently to her usual appearance. Lady Tremaine does note a familiarity about her as she dances with Prince Charming. She is not, however, permitted to study Cinderella long enough to make the connection, as the Grand Duke closes the curtains to give them privacy.
At the news that the Prince will marry the girl whose foot fits in the glass slipper left behind at the Ball, Cinderella becomes quite distracted and falls into a dreamlike state, dancing and singing "So This is Love" to herself. Lady Tremaine realizes that Cinderella was the mysterious girl who danced with the Prince at the Ball. She quietly follows Cinderella up the tower and locks her in her room, putting the key in her pocket.
As the Grand Duke then arrives with the glass slipper, Lady Tremaine instructs her daughters not to fail her. She watches as both Anastasia and Drizella try their hardest to force their enormous feet into the slipper. While this is happening (the stepsisters prolong the process with their repeated attempts to get the slipper to fit their feet), Cinderella's two mice friends, Jaq and Gus, steal the key from Lady Tremaine's pocket and bring it to the door of Cinderella's room. The mice succeed in freeing Cinderella from her room despite Lucifer's delaying them. When Cinderella appears and calls to the Duke, Lady Tremaine insists to the Duke that Cinderella may not have attended the ball as she has been a household servant, despite having deduced that she has. The Duke orders Lady Tremaine to step aside. Tremaine, however, remains determined to preclude her stepdaughter from trying the slipper on; she trips the Footman as he walks over to Cinderella, causing the slipper to fall off its cushion and shatter into pieces. Cinderella then reveals that she has the other slipper, and her stepmother watches in horror when it fits her foot.
Lady Tremaine made her second film appearance in the Direct-to-DVD sequel Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. In this film, she only appeared in the An Uncommon Romance segment. Lady Tremaine is shown to be cold towards her own daughters. When Anastasia falls for a common baker, Tremaine harshly forbids her to do so much as speak to him again or even enter his bakery again. (As before, Lady Tremaine's ambitions reflect her aristocratic narcissism, for she still wants her daughters to choose wealthy noblemen as husbands.) Thus Anastasia must defy her mother's wishes for the first time, and the segment ends with her attending Cinderella's ball with the baker boy she presumably will soon marry.
Her most significant role so far - was in another Direct-to-DVD Cinderella sequel, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. She is more evil and physically antagonistic here than in the other two films. This time, she acquires the Fairy Godmother's magic wand after Anastasia finds it. Intent on ruining Cinderella's happy ending and stealing it for her own daughter, Tremaine uses the wand to reverse time and undo Cinderella's "happily ever after" (turning Cinderella back into her virtual slave). She also enchants the glass slipper to fit Anastasia so that Cinderella never gets to try on the slipper herself, then uses the wand to enchant Prince Charming into forgetting Cinderella and marrying Anastasia instead. Tremaine makes her most notable—and horrific—use the Fairy Godmother's wand when she transforms Anastasia into the mirror image of Cinderella (making her beautiful), then teleports the genuine Cinderella into a pumpkin that becomes a nightmarish travesty of the original coach from the first film, as well as destroys her dress to crush any hope that the girl may still have. (The travesty includes transforming Lucifer into a lethal coachman to drive Cinderella far away from the palace and cause her death.)
Ultimately, Anastasia is her mother's undoing: She comes to feel reluctant to marry somebody under false pretenses; she does not care for the prince, he does not truly love her, and she cannot bear to live the rest of her life pretending to be something she is not (even if it means finally possessing beauty).
Angrily, the King tells all his guards to arrest Lady Tremaine, who defends herself by turning the guards into various animals—the guards coming at her from the front turn into chickens, the guards coming from the right turn into pigs, and the guards from the left turn into rabbits, so that they could not stop her. Tremaine tries to turn Anastasia and Cinderella into frogs, but the Prince intervenes and reflects the magic beam with his sword and it hits herself and Drizella instead. Anastasia then restores herself to normal before giving the magic wand to Cinderella so that she can undo all the wrongs that have been committed.
During the end credits, Lady Tremaine and Drizella have been restored, but are wearing scullery clothes identical to those Cinderella used to wear, implying that they will be working in the palace under Cinderella's authority as punishment for the cruelty they showed her.
Lady Tremaine was given a few cameos with her daughters and Lucifer in House of Mouse. In the episode "Pete's House of Villains" she makes Pete clean the floors as punishment for attempting to take over the club. Other cameos include her sitting alongside the Evil Queen.
Lady Tremaine makes a cameo in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit Special Edition DVD on one of the menus, but does not appear in the film itself.
An emoticon version of Lady Tremaine also appeared in the Cinderella entry of the As Told by Emoji short series.
Lady Tremaine appears in cameo only in the Season 1 episode "The Price of Gold", portrayed by an unknown actress, as inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest. A carriage is seen parked on the outside of her private property, and she, with her daughters, make their way toward it, wearing evening gowns. Lady Tremaine enters the chariot first, followed by her two daughters. Soon afterwards, we are treated to the sight of her stepdaughter, Ella, dressed in rather unfair rags. The poor blonde looks with sadness at her stepfamily as they leave their property on the carriage, headed to the prince's ball. After the curse thrown by the Evil Queen, it was explained that Lady Tremaine lives plausibly (it was not the case) with her daughters in Storybrooke and has cut any ties with Cinderella.
Lady Tremaine returned, and was properly featured, in the Season 6 episode "The Other Shoe", portrayed by Lisa Banes. In addition to being cruel to Ella, she is equally cruel to one of her daughters, Clorinda, when she finds out the latter is planning to run away with the prince's footman, instead of a more noble man, to the Land of Untold Stories. Ella tries to stop her from killing the footman, but when she sees Ella's engagement ring from the prince, she grabs the key to open the portal to the aforementioned realm taking Clorinda with her.
She is sent to Storybrooke along with her daughter and with the help of Regina's Evil Side testing her own nemesis Emma Swan, they lure Ella into a trap. But Ella reveals that Clorinda's lost love is in Storybrooke, and Lady Tremaine tries to kill him and her daughter, only to have Ella step in front of the lovers. She takes her walking stick and fatally stabs Ella, but then Emma Swan uses her magic to heal Ella thus ruining the woman's plan.
She is eventually arrested and forced to do community service, which involved picking up trash around town.
In the live-action re-imagining of the original film, Lady Tremaine is played by Cate Blanchett.
Beautiful, elegant, stylish, and red-haired like her daughters, Lady Tremaine was described by the narrator to be "a woman of keen feeling and refined taste". She was once married to Sir Francis Tremaine, the Master of the Mercer's Guild, and according to her, it had been a love match. After he died, her second marriage to Ella's father had been for the sake of her daughters.
In the beginning, Lady Tremaine did not seem to bear any particular animosity towards her stepdaughter, Ella. She instead focused on restoring life and laughter to the estate, which had been somewhat silent after Ella's mother died. Her attempts at such appeared to be hosting elaborate parties to which even the nobility were invited, where fine wines flowed and were consumed in excess, and everyone gambled.
However, during one such party, when she went to fetch her husband, she overheard a private conversation between him and Ella. It was then that her jealousy and spite towards Ella was incited, for the conversation confirmed that her husband loved Ella more than he did her, and he still dearly cherished the memory of his late wife (Ella's biological mother) - all of which made her feel that she was not only living in Ella's mother's shadow, but was also overshadowed by Ella herself.
After he departed on a trip, Lady Tremaine gradually revealed her true passive-aggressive nature. The first instance was to indirectly make Ella give her bedroom to Drisella and Anastasia, and move into the attic - though she did state that it was a temporary measure, since she was having the other rooms redecorated. She also took subtle advantage of Ella's kindness by making her work like a servant to distract her whenever her daughters displayed embarrassing behavior, such as pretending to accidentally upset a plate of biscuits when Ella grimaced at Drisella's abysmal musical performance.
When the news of her husband's death came, Lady Tremaine was again visibly upset that his dying words had only been of Ella and her mother, and even his dying memorial had solely been for Ella. Her daughters inquired about their lack of promised gifts, but she snapped at them by stating that it did not matter, for they were all ruined, and lamented about how they were to live.
Due to financial pressures, she dismissed the entire staff of servants. She also had no further qualms about being open about how she truly felt towards her stepdaughter: as described by the narrator, Ella grew to be ever misused by her step-family, who increasingly viewed her as more of a servant than a relation. Lady Tremaine's transparent excuse for making Ella take on all the household chores was that it distracted her from her grief, and she, Drisella, and Anastasia were more than happy to provide her with a very great deal of such distraction. She later joined in her daughters' mocking of Ella as "Cinderella" when she woke up covered with soot, and even forbade her from sitting at the table to share a meal with them.
When the royal ball was announced, Lady Tremaine refused to buy a new gown for Ella, and even accused her of being too ambitious to even think that she could attend the ball. Enraged when Ella appeared anyway in an old dress of her mother's, she ripped one of the sleeves and encouraged her daughters to rip the dress apart.
Later that night, Lady Tremaine is as surprised as everyone else when a beautiful but mysterious princess in a blue gown steals Kit's heart. Despite her attempts to have her daughters turn Kit's head away from the mysterious princess, they were unsuccessful, and she later inadvertently learns that the Grand Duke had already promised Kit's hand in marriage to the Princess Chelina of Zaragoza. This leads to her believing that her schemes to marry one of her daughters to Kit would come to nothing, given that the ball was - in her own opinion - a mere diversion.
However, after the ball, her suspicions of the mysterious princess' true identity were aroused by Ella's attitude. Later on, she discovered a glass slipper hidden in the attic, which in turn led to her first - and final - heart-to-heart confrontation with her stepdaughter. She starts off by confessing that her second marriage to Ella's father had been for her daughters, but she was still unbearably jealous of how beloved Ella was to him, and now it seemed she would live unhappily ever after since Kit was in love with Ella, effectively ruining her plans to marry one of her own daughters to him. She then proposes a deal that, in her own words, will benefit all parties: after Ella and Kit were married, Ella will make her the head of the royal household, they would ensure that Drisella and Anastasia marry wealthy husbands, and she will manage Kit.
Ella rejects this out of hand, telling her that she is not going to let Kit and the kingdom fall into her stepmother's clutches after she failed to protect her father. An enraged Lady Tremaine shatters the slipper in response to her defiance. Shocked and grieved beyond endurance by this, Ella demands to know the true reason for her stepmother's cruelty to her, to which Lady Tremaine replies that Ella is everything that she was not: young, innocent, and good. She locks Ella in the attic.
Lady Tremaine then went to meet the Grand Duke, whom she blackmails into making her a countess and ensuring worthy husbands for her daughters in exchange for keeping the secret so Kit would have to marry Princess Chelina.
When the captain found Ella hidden in the attic, Lady Tremaine initially declared that as her mother, she will not allow Ella to try on the slipper. Ella curtly responds that she is not and never will be her mother. Though she was increasingly afraid and angry at this turn of events, all Lady Tremaine could do was to grip Ella's arm as she passed her by, and silently warned her to remember who she was.
However, as Ella leaves the château with Kit, she shoots a long meaningful stare at her stepmother on the stairwell, and finally tells her that she forgives her. At this, Lady Tremaine sinks to the ground in defeat. The Tremaines later left the kingdom with the Grand Duke, never to return.
In one of the Disney Reading Series, Lady Tremaine and her daughters visit Cinderella and her husband at his castle. She keeps up the pretense that she no longer harbors any ill will towards Cinderella, but is later shocked when her daughters inform her that Cinderella is apparently planning to supplant them with "special people" (unaware that Drizella and Anastasia were the special people she was referring to) and plotted alongside them to sabotage Cinderella's efforts.
Lady Tremaine is one of the villains imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. She is the grandmother to the step-granddaughters (daughters of Anastasia and Drizella) and Anthony Tremaine.
In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Lady Tremaine's role is identical to that of her film role. Treating Cinderella as a mere servant and showing no love towards her, the wicked stepmother does all in her power to see that her daughters are successful in life. She is upset by their constant sibling rivalry, also showing an extreme affection for her devious cat named Lucifer, despite the animal's cruelty to Cinderella's mouse friends.
After discovering the identity of the maiden that had won Prince Charming's heart at the royal ball to be none other than Cinderella, Lady Tremaine immediately locked her in her room when it came time for Anastasia and Drizella to try on a single glass slipper that had been left behind when the girl fled. Enraged when Cinderella was let out of her room by Jaq and the slipper fit her, Lady Tremaine used the jealousy in her heart to turn Cinderella's pumpkin carriage into an Unversed, the Cursed Coach, in an attempt to eliminate Cinderella and Aqua. Her scheme backfired when one of the fire bombs the Cursed Coach produced landed on her and her daughters, leaving their fate unknown.
Lady Tremaine occasionally appears in the Disney theme parks as a meetable character. She is known to be considerably vain and sarcastic to the visiting guest(s), just like how she treated Cinderella and her daughters in the film.
In Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular at the Magic Kingdom, Lady Tremaine is the last of the villains Maleficent conjures as one of the "frightful friends" to help The Sanderson Sisters with their Halloween celebration. Tremaine and the others join the sisters in singing "I Put a Spell on You" in the show's finale.
She can also be found in the Magic Kingdom for meet-and-greets, and is fairly common during the seasonal events occurring in the park, specifically during Halloween alongside other Disney villains.
A picture of her was shown in the attraction Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour.
Lady Tremaine makes an appearance on Twice Charmed, a show on the Disney Cruise Line. Lady Tremaine grows a deeper hatred for Cinderella as the days go by and soon enough she gains her very own Fairy Godfather, a male counterpart of Fairy Godmother. Unlike Cinderella's magical friend, Tremaine's godfather is an evil and dark magician-like man. She uses his magic to reverse time to take control over the King's kingdom.
- An early design sketch of Madame Leota for the Haunted Mansion attraction shows a striking resemblance to Lady Tremaine, featuring the same facial structure and exact hairstyle of Victorian hair bun. This is most likely due to the fact that Eleanor Audley also provided the audio recording for Madame Leota as well.
- In the 2015 movie, she is a noble, which is the reason Cinderella's father married her in the first place, and the reason she and her two daughters are allowed to attend the Prince's ball.
- Lady Tremaine was nominated for a place in 'AFI’s 50 Greatest Villains list', along with the Evil Queen, Stromboli, Man, Maleficent, Cruella De Vil and Ursula.
- In the original French story, the stepmother receives only a very minor mention in the beginning; it is the stepsisters who are noted throughout the rest of the story.
- Her name is only mentioned once in the film: We learn that her last name is Tremaine at the ball when they announce the young ladies and their parents. This is the only time that her last name is referenced in the original film. Her name is mentioned more frequently in the 2015 film.
- In the opening of the 1950 film, Lady Tremaine is depicted with brown hair in her younger years, a trait which Drizella's brunette hair color somewhat resembles.
- Eleanor Audley, who was the voice of Lady Tremaine in the original 1950 film, also voiced Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. It can be easily perceived because the two villains had similar mannerisms and voice tones. In fact, her performance as Lady Tremaine was partly the reason why she was given the role. Similarly, her succeeding voice actress (Susan Blakeslee) also voices Maleficent.
- The Into the Woods official website at one point implied that Lady Tremaine would be the Wicked Stepmother role in the live-action adaptation. However, this was later revealed to be an error, and Disney confirmed the characters would not be.
- In the original film, her dress is crimson. In A Twist in Time, her dress is purple.
- Tremaine is a Cornish surname, as well as a village and civil parish in Cornwall. This might suggest her family is originally decended from Cornish.
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