In the film, Skinner is a skinner and taxidermist who often kills animals to make products out of them. When he was young, a dog attacked him by tearing open his throat and ripping out his vocal cords in the process, leaving him with a bad scar on his neck. Due to this, he cannot speak at all. He is the one responsible for killing the female white Siberian tiger at the London Zoo (which the "novelization" shows him doing) and makes it into a rug for Cruella. When Horace and Jasper come to pick it up, Horace makes a comment about Skinner's scar and why he can't talk; despite Jasper warning him not to do so, resulting in Jasper hitting his brother. Later on, when Jasper and Horace kidnap the puppies and take them to De Vil Manor, Cruella calls Skinner and hires him kill the puppies and turn them into a fur coat. When Skinner arrives at De Vil Manor, Horace and Jasper have already left and all the puppies except for Lucky have escaped. Just as Skinner is about to grab Lucky, another dog named Kipper comes and bites Skinner's butt and fights with him, saving Lucky. The police later find Skinner and put him in the paddy wagon along with Horace, Jasper and Cruella, who are all taken to jail. On the way, Cruella finds out that she has accidentally brought a real skunk (instead of her purse) into the paddy wagon, and she, Skinner, Horace and Jasper are all sprayed by the skunk, causing them to all scream in terror and hold their noses.
Skinner is based loosely on Cruella's husband Mr. De Vil from the original story, who was also a skinner but could talk, except he had more a weak-willed personality, while Skinner has a more menacing personality.
John Shrapnel (who portrays Skinner) and Tim McInnerny (who portrays Alonzo) later starred in Notting Hill together. In said film, Shrapnel portrayed the P. R. Chief and McInnerny portrayed Will's best friend Max.
In the "novelization" of the live-action film, Skinner's address is: "152 Merton Road, London, SW1 9EH", with Horace describing his building as a red brick town house with a black door.
Skinner is the first live-action Disney villain who doesn't speak. In once instance, he communicates with Cruella over the phone by tapping a knife against the receiver, which Cruella surprisingly understood as a response translated as, "How should I kill them?" when discussing the Dalmatian puppies.
Ironically, despite being unable to speak, Skinner screams really loud when a real skunk (which Cruella had accidentally brought with her) sprays its odor fumes while in the paddy wagon.
Skinner did not appear in 102 Dalmatians, which implies that he is still in prison with Horace and Jasper.