Angelina Jolie is MALEFICENT in Theaters in 3D, 5/29
When Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie got wind that a movie about Maleficent, her favorite Disney character, was going to be made, her interest was piqued. "I loved Maleficent when I was a little girl," says Jolie. "I was afraid of her and I loved her. So, when I'd heard rumors that there might be a Maleficent movie, I asked around to find out what was going on. Then I got a call asking if I was interested and I said absolutely."
When Jolie read the script, she was moved by it and felt it was like uncovering a great mystery. "We all know the story of 'Sleeping Beauty' and we all know Maleficent and what happened at the christening because we've all grown up with that," comments Jolie. "But what we've never known is, what happened before?"
As to what audiences can expect from Disney's most iconic villain this time around, Jolie says, "People will see that she's the same wicked Maleficent. What I loved about the original Maleficent when I was little was that she had a wicked sense of fun. She enjoyed being evil and she reveled in it. She still gets to do that and she will satisfy, hopefully, the people that, like myself, are fans of the original. But you get to learn more about her and how she became evil."
Explaining how she approached playing Maleficent, Jolie relates, "I wanted to make sure we didn't lose her sense of wicked fun because I think it's a very beautiful story. It's kind of a different but classic fairy tale and it has a lot of heart. We want to revel in that and that was very important for me as well as that she was somebody that was relatable."
Jolie admits that Maleficent is one of the most difficult characters that she has ever played because "she represents all sides of what it is to be human, even though she is not." "For me, the journey of playing her has been much heavier, much more emotional, and much more difficult an experience than I expected," informs Jolie. "There's a part of me that plays big fun roles, but never this big. She's slightly crazy, extremely vibrant, a little wicked and has a big sense of humor, so she's quite full on. It's one of those characters that, for me, you couldn't do halfway."
Describing Maleficent's relationship with Stefan, played by Sharlto Copley, and how that relationship pushes the story forward, Jolie says, "Stefan is a human boy who Maleficent meets in the moors when she's young. They become best friends but as they grow up, the way they view the world changes and they have very different opinions. They both, at different times in the story, go very dark. They end up becoming enemies."
Maleficent can turn her raven Diaval, played by Sam Riley, into a man or any animal that suits her particular purpose. When Diaval is a man, he is Maleficent's confidant and conscience. Explaining their relationship, Jolie says, "They have a very bizarre relationship. At first Maleficent's quite controlling over him and then he tries to stand up to her and they bicker a lot. They're like a weird married couple that watches Aurora as she grows up. Maleficent has a disdain for Aurora and everything that she represents and Diaval's a little more nurturing."
Jolie was quite impressed by her young co-star Elle Fanning, who plays Aurora. "Elle is Aurora. From the moment I met her, she is just sunshine," says Jolie. "She's a wonderful, sweet, intelligent young woman. Elle's such a capable actress and a very strong person, which is nice because this Aurora is not just in love with the flowers; she is elegant and beautiful and delicate and loving, but she's centered and she's quite an impressive young woman. Elle is bringing all of that and a great deal of emotional depth and her talent, as an actress, has really surprised me."
Maleficent has a fun relationship with the pixies, played by Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and Juno Temple, who are afraid of her and for good reason. "Maleficent hates them," sates Jolie. "I get to banter with them and especially Imelda Staunton, who is Knotgrass. So to actually be dressed in the horns and having my own crazy character moment and having her as a little fairy yelling at me in her crazy moment is one of the best crazy moments I've ever had on film." She adds, "The three pixies are so funny together and certainly the comedic relief and the joy of the film."
When moviegoers sit in their seats to watch "Maleficent," Jolie expects that they will have a great experience. "Everybody involved is hoping to bring audiences the feeling that we've respected the classic film and if they loved the classic, we've tried to bring them what they've remembered and loved about this story," says Jolie. "But we've tried to enhance it and also make it beautiful and touching. We hope that audiences care about the characters, Aurora and Maleficent and Stefan and everybody involved; whether they love them or hate them at moments, that somehow they deeply know them and they're deep, good characters. But we also hope to bring a real world that they've never seen before and also action sequences and everything audiences want in a film."
Q: What attracted you to the role?
A: I loved Maleficent when I was a little girl; she was my favorite Disney character. I was afraid of her and I loved her. So, when I'd heard rumors that there might be a Maleficent movie, I asked around to find out what was going on. Then I got a call asking if I was interested and I said absolutely. I said I loved the idea of it but I didn't know how one could turn that idea into a film because how could you make a film about somebody who curses a baby and what kind of film is that going to be? I said yes, but I didn't really think they'd be able to figure it out. And then they did.
Q: When you first read the script, what did you think?
A: I was really moved by the script from first reading. It was like uncovering a great mystery. We all know the story of "Sleeping Beauty" and we all know Maleficent and what happened at the christening because we've all grown up with that. But what we've never known is, what happened before?
Q: What are some of the things that we can expect?
A: People will see that she's the same wicked Maleficent. What I loved about the original Maleficent when I was little was that she had a wicked sense of fun. She enjoyed being evil and she reveled in it. She still gets to do that and she will satisfy, hopefully, the people that, like myself, are fans of the original. But you get to learn more about her and how she became evil.
I think that audiences will approach the christening scene differently. When you know what you know about her, by the time you get to the christening, if we've done it right, you may be on her side, which, if we can pull it off, would be extraordinary. Maleficent has a strong sense of justice; she has a strong heart and a strong sense of what she thinks is right and wrong and then she loses her way.
Q:What were some of the ideas you brought to this character?
A: I wanted to make sure we didn't lose her sense of wicked fun because I think it's a very beautiful story. It's kind of a different but classic fairy tale and it has a lot of heart. We want to revel in that and that was very important for me as well as that she was somebody that was relatable.
When I first read the script, I was very moved by it, so I sat my girls down and told them the real story of Maleficent. Then the next day, my little boy got into a fight with one of my daughters because he was saying, "Maleficent's evil. She's scary and she's evil." And my daughter was saying, "You don't understand. You don't know everything." I thought that was very interesting. Don't we all wish we could say, "But you don't know everything. You don't know me completely; you don't see the full picture." So when I heard my little girls defending her, I thought that this would be a character that I would hope that young girls and boys would see and would relate to. I hope the girls, especially, will see the importance of having a sense of justice and a sense of what's fair and what's worth fighting for. They'll see that they can be warriors and at the same time soft and feminine and deeply feeling, with all the complexities women have.