Bibbidi bobbidi boo! The tale of Cinderella has captivated audiences for decades — and the stars who’ve played her have managed continually to put their own spin on the iconic character.
Julie Andrews, Drew Barrymore and Brandy Norwood put on a pair of glass slippers in hopes of finding their Prince Charming as the fairy tale princess before Hilary Duff, Lily James and Camila Cabello enlisted the help of their fairy godmothers on the big screen. With each new Cinderella-inspired film, another generation of fans learned the character’s story of overcoming her rough circumstances — and defeating her stepmother and stepsisters — to make her own happily ever after.
In April 2016, Barrymore reflected on her role as Danielle in Ever After: A Cinderella Story, revealing that her own personal turmoil drew her to the 1998 film, which is a twist on Cinderella’s original tale.
“I was trying to reinvent myself and come out of a tumultuous period,” the Charlie’s Angels actress told Good Housekeeping at the time. “[I wanted to] restart my career and start a company with [Nancy Juvonen] and be a young woman. I had been a kid and an awkward teenager as we all are, and I was at that place in my life where I was truly asking, ‘What have I learned? What do I think? Who am I going to be?’”
She recalled coming across The Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella and noticing that they “had it all wrong.” Barrymore thought that Cinderella wasn’t rescued by some prince, but instead managed to save herself. “I thought, ‘Rescue yourself? That’s who I want to be, that’s who I need to be in this life,’” she added.
The fantasy film led to a shift in Barrymore’s perspective on life and how she embodied different types of heroines on screen.
“Rescuing yourself is the ultimate fairy tale, and that fairy tales are usually just very super dark in the beginning and then they have the opportunity to get super light, I like that trajectory too,” the talk show host continued. “That made me feel calm and like it doesn’t matter if you feel like you have personal black X’s in your life or you think you haven’t done everything perfect or you got dealt a strange set of cards, whatever it is, it just doesn’t matter. It always can get light. And we all want love at the end of the day. We want the prince, but if you get yourself up to that mountain instead of him carrying you up there, it’s just that kiss is all the sweeter.”
Brandy had a similar life-changing moment when she slipped into Cinderella’s blue dress in 1997’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
“It was a game changer, like, it was just so different, and it just gave everyone an opportunity to just play these iconic characters, and see it in a different way,” the “Boy Is Mine” singer told Entertainment Weekly in February 2021 during the cast’s virtual reunion. “It was just so magical.”
The Mississippi native previously explained how starring alongside the late Whitney Houston, who portrayed her fairy godmother, was a career-defining experience.
“I had the best time working with her. She was like an angel. It got to the point where I really got a chance to be myself and make her laugh and get comfortable enough to sing in front of her,” Brandy exclusively told Us Weekly in December 2020. “And it was just a dream come true. Just four years before that I was trying to meet her, talking my way from a nosebleed section all the way down to backstage to meet her. I didn’t get a chance to meet her at that time, but four years later, I’m on set with her singing ‘Impossible.’”
Scroll down to see which actresses have portrayed Cinderella over the years: