Two Oscar Nominees’ Surprising Disney Connection

oscars jessica chastain penelope cruz

You probably already know that Spanish actress Penelope Cruz (who is currently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in Parallel Mothers) has had some involvement with Disney in the form of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). You may also know that The Eyes of Tammy Faye actress Jessica Chastain (who is competing against Penelope Cruz in the same category at the 94th Academy Awards this year) has technically worked with Disney on the highly-acclaimed movie The Help (2011).

However, both of these actresses have had some long-forgotten Disney princess moments — and only a dedicated Disney fan will remember them!

D23 reminded Disney fans of this moment recently by bringing back a classic Disney series: the Disney Dream Portrait Series! Do you remember this series? In this portrait series, famed portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz took a series of glamorous, fantastical photographs of celebrities posing as Disney princesses, Disney princes, or Disney villains.

Disney Dream Portrait Series.

Scarlett Johansson as Cinderella, photographed by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz as part of the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Credit:

Several of the chosen Disney heroes, Disney heroines, or Disney villains were portrayed by Disney darlings like Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron (who can be seen below as Princess Aurora and Prince Philip), but there were also some unexpected actors who were cast — including Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz!

Disney Dream Portrait Series.

Zac Efron as Prince Philip and Vanessa Hudgens as Princess Aurora, photographed by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz as part of the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Credit:

Jessica Chastain’s fiery red hair and pale complexion made her a shoo-in to play Merida from Brave, even though she was still relatively unknown at the time since The Help was only just being released.

Ironically, Jessica Chastain has now played a red-headed Scottish warrior when she played Sara opposite Marvel actor Chris Hemsworth in The Huntsman: Winter’s War in 2016. Needless to say, that role has only fueled Disney fans’ desire to see her as Merida in a live-action version of Brave (even though Karen Gillan is also a contender depending on which Disney fan you ask)!


Jessica Chastain as the Disney character Merida, photographed by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz as part of the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Credit:

jessica chastain

Jessica Chastain as Sara in ‘Huntsman: Winter’s War’ Credit:

Academy Award-winner Penelope Cruz didn’t have much involvement with Disney, and wouldn’t until she played Angelica opposite Johnny Depp (who played Captain Jack Sparrow) in 2011, but she was still chosen to pose as the Disney princess Belle in this portrait series. Her Beast was actor Jeff Bridges!

penelope cruz pirates on stranger tides

Penelope Cruz as Angelica in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’. Credit: D23

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Jeff Bridges as the Disney character the Beast and Penelope Cruz as the Disney character Belle, photographed by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz as part of the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Credit:

Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Johnny Depp, David Beckham, Taylor Swift, Rachel Weisz, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marc Anthony, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Oliver Platt, Jack Black, Abigail Breslin, Jason Segel, Jessica Biel, and Olivia Wilde were just some of the other celebrities featured in the series that was a favorite of many a Disney fan!

Other included celebrities who each had a chosen Disney character were Lyle Lovett, Julianne Moore, BeyoncĂ© Knowles, Tina Fey, Michael Phelps, Patti Smith, Gisele BĂŒndchen, Roger Federer, and Will Ferrell!

The Disney Dream Portrait Series might have had its heyday when it was first released in tandem with the Walt Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line’s “Year of a Million Dreams” campaign back in 2007, but these pictures definitely still retain some Disney magic! Are you a devout Disney fan who remembers these two Oscar-nominated actresses’ Disney princess moments?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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