Brandy and Paolo Montalban Reflect on ‘Cinderella’ 26 Years Later: ‘It Was Just So Magical’
Brandy and Paolo Montalban claim that reuniting has been like seeing family once more. On the set of Disney’s Descendants, ET spoke with the stars of the beloved 1997 Rodgers & Hammerstein film Cinderella: They reprise their iconic roles as grown-up Cinderella and Prince Christopher in The Rise of Red.
Disney announced Brandy’s return as Cinderella back in November, but the studio really brought it home for fans when they announced that Paolo was joining her. The lead duo will return to their royal roots as King and Queen, with their onscreen daughter, Chloe Charming, played by Malia Baker.
In The Rise of Red, Cinderella and King Charming’s perfectionist daughter, Chloe, joins forces with Red (Kylie Cantrall), the rebellious daughter of the Queen of Hearts (Rita Ora). The unlikely duo meets during a momentous celebration in Auradon when unexpected chaos breaks out as the tyrannical Queen of Hearts incites a coup against Auradon. In order to prevent the impending coup, Chloe and Red work together to travel back in time to undo the traumatic event that set Red’s mother down her villainous path.
The duo joins several previously announced cast members, including Descendants franchise star China Anne McClain, who reprises her role as Uma, daughter of sea witch Ursula; Dara Reneé as Uma’s younger sister, Uliana; Ruby Rose Turner as Bridget, the younger version of the Queen of Hearts; Morgan Dudley as Ella, the younger version of Cinderella; Joshua Colley as Hook, one of Uliana’s sycophants; Jeremy Swift as Principal Merlin; Leonardo Nam as Maddox Hatter; and Melanie Paxson as the Fairy Godmother, who appeared in all three previous Descendants films.
Brandy and Paolo starred in Cinderella alongside the late Whitney Houston, who played the Fairy Godmother. Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber, Natalie Desselle Reid, Bernadette Peters and Jason Alexander also appeared in the fan-favorite flick. The film earned seven Emmy nominations at the time, including for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
“We both have said it doesn’t feel like any time has passed,” Brandy tells ET, with Paolo adding that the reunion has been “like being around family. And we came up with the perfect word. Surreal. This whole experience… just seeing her again. Time does not pass when I look at Brandy.”
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The 44-year-old singer returns her co-star’s sentiment, reminiscing with him about their days on the set of their ’90s musical film. “I remember waltzing with you. I loved how you just led me and made me feel so comfortable because I was really uncomfortable with waltzing,” she recalls to Paolo’s astonishment. He notes that he was “terrified” during their dance, worried that he would step on her feet “and I’m pretty sure I did.”
Remembering their time singing together, Brandy shares, “I just loved singing with you! Our voices together, it was just so magical.”
“Yeah, it really was,” Paolo responds, noting that the pair were “just kids” at the time but they “have such great, great memories from that time, huh?”
Paolo tells his co-star that she “literally” changed his life by starring alongside him on Cinderella, concluding, “I’ve been able to have a connection with so many people in this world because of the impact of your Cinderella. Truly. And that’s been such a great gift, so, thank you.”