Our wishes have been heard: Paolo Montalbán, who played Prince Charming in the 1997 Cinderella, will reprise the role for a new Descendants movie. Montalbán joins singer-songwriter Brandy, who will reprise the role of Cinderella. According to the Disney press release, Charming (now King) is “as in love with Cinderella as he ever was” – as he should be!
The official Disney Plus YouTube posted a short clip of Montalbán and Brandy in costume and on set. Despite being incredibly short, it’s absolutely ravishing (and should we say… charming?) Just look at Cinderella’s gorgeous blue hair! Charming’s little spiffy jacket! Ah! Time to revisit the Brandy Cinderella to relive the magic.
Montalbán’s joining the cast isn’t the only news; between Brandy’s casting and their reunion, the film received a bit of a title makeover. Called earlier The pocket watchit is now titled Descendants: The rise of red, referring to the Queen of Hearts. The film follows Chloe, the perfectionist daughter of Cinderella and Charming, and Red (Kylie Cantrall), the rebellious daughter of the Queen of Hearts. The unlikely duo team up to travel back in time and try to stop the Queen of Hearts (Rita Ora) from taking over the magical kingdom of Auradon in their present.
In other words: Cinderella is officially canon in Descendants. And we couldn’t be happier about it. The 1997 film is a beautiful, hilarious and moving version of the popular fairy tale. With an all-star cast including Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters and Jason Alexander, Cinderella (1997) breathes magic into a story that has a million retellings. It also broke new ground for playing a black actress as Cinderella, with a Philippine Prince Charming. The fact that Brandy’s version of the Disney princess is being included in the Descendants movies essentially codifies her as the official Cinderella in that world’s canon.
For the uninitiated with the most popular Disney Channel Original Movie franchise since High school musical, the Descendants movies follow the, well, descendants of popular Disney heroes and villains. All the villains have been banished for being evil, but Ben, the son of Beauty and the Beast, invites some of their children to attend a prestigious academy.
The first three films mostly followed Mal (Dove Cameron), the daughter of Maleficent, but also introduced Cruella de Vil’s children, Captain Hook, Ursula, Mulan, Dopey the Dwarf (definitely), and Aurora and Prince Phillip, just to name a few. name a few. In addition to three movies, the Descendants franchise was also turned into TV shows, a book series, and a handful of short films.
Now, technically, one of Cinderella’s children already appeared in the Descendants world: Chad, played by Jedidiah Goodacre. He is one of the antagonists of the first film, and as a white blond male seems more in line with the animated version of Cinderella than the 1997 film. But again, the 1997 film was delightfully race blind, with Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber playing Paolo Montalbán’s parents played, so bring on a new generation of unlikely mixed-race families.
If you want to get technical about it, Cinderella and Charming have already had a blink and you’ll miss the appearances in the earlier films. But they’ve never played major roles, so recasting them isn’t a problem.
The new movie is a Disney Plus exclusive, though its release date has yet to be announced.
The Descendants movies and Cinderella (1997) are available to stream on Disney Plus.
Update (March 21): After confirming that Brandy would be returning to the Cinderella role for The pocket watchDisney announced that original cast member Paolo Montalbán would also return and the film would be titled Descendants: The rise of red. We’ve edited the article to reflect this.