Cinderella will be put in her place.
―Lady Tremaine

Lady Tremaine (also known as the "Wicked Stepmother") is the main villain of the Cinderella trilogy. She is voiced by Susanne Blakeslee, who also voiced Mrs. Turner and Wanda in The Fairly Odd Parents.

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.

Background

Development

The villain-victim relationship was one of the very best we had on any feature... Lady Tremaine was the only villain to live beside her victim day by day
―Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

Lady Tremaine was voiced by Eleanor Audley, who also provided live-action reference for the character. She was animated by Frank Thomas.

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 a 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.

Personality

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.
―Opening narration[src]

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 château. 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 out of love.

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.

Physical appearance

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 (brown in her youth) 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. Usually carries an ebony cane with an inlaid stone, more for esthetics than physical support.

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.

Trivia

  • 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 and Dreams Come True, 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 descended from Cornish.
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