Maleficent - Angelina Jolie
Maleficent - Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) ©2014 Disney

This year, 2014, marks the 55 Anniversary of Disney’s animated feature Sleeping Beauty. In honor of that milestone, Disney’s new movie Maleficent opens on May 30th, which tells the tale from the point-of-view of the villainess who put the spell on the young princess.

Angelina Jolie portrays Maleficent, with Elle Fanning as Aurora, the ‘sleeping beauty.’

Jolie spoke of the role at the press day for the film, admitting, ‘As a child I was afraid of her and I loved her.’

What were the difficulties of playing this role?

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie
Maleficent – Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) ©2014 Disney

I think the thing with this role is you realize that there’s no halfway, that if you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna have to fully get into it and enjoy it.

The original (animated feature) was done so well and her voice was so great and the way she was animated was so perfect that, if anything, I just was so worried I’d fail the original. But I practiced a lot with my children, and when I got them laughing, I figured I was on to something.

What part did timing play in doing this? If this had come up five years ago, would you have considered it?

I don’t know. It’s such a great project I imagine I would always have considered it.

Maleficent - Sam Riley and Angelina Jolie
Maleficent – Diaval (Sam Riley) and Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) ©2014 Disney

It was perfect timing to have all [my children] on set playing, being a part of the adventure with me, and for me as an actress to not do something where I’m taking myself so seriously and I’m trying to do something for myself and my art, but just just remember what it is to play and entertain and try something bold.

So motherhood had something to do with your decision?

It had a lot to do with it, and then also the artist in me felt it’s good to do something bold every once in a while, that you’re not comfortable with that you haven’t done. I was a bit nervous to take her on. I don’t have a big theatre voice, I don’t do things that are comedic. This is such a crazy idea I’m a fairy.

It’s great to jump into things that you’re not sure of and you haven’t done. It’s a little scary, [but] that’s what we have to do as artists.

Your daughter plays the young Aurora in the film. How did that come about?

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie and Vivienne Jolie-Pitt
Maleficent – Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Young Aurora (Vivienne Jolie-Pitt) ©2014 Disney

Brad and I never wanted our kids to be actors. But we also want them to be around film and be part of mommy and daddy’s life and for it not to be kept from them either, just to have a good healthy relationship with it.

This came about because there were [actor] kids that would come to set and they would see me and I would go up to them (in costume) and say ‘hi’ and they would cry. One child completely froze and then cried in terror.

We realized that there was no way that we were going to find a 4 or 5-year-old that I could be as strong with that would not see me as a monster. And suddenly there was Vivie running around looking like little Aurora, and we thought, ‘Oh, the answer’s right here.’

What was the process like to invent Maleficent’s look?

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie
Maleficent – Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) ©2014 Disney

The creation of it took a little time to figure out, how to do the horns, even how to get them on my head and how do they stay on the head? We used my hair as kind of braids to nail it down to different things.

We just wanted to have a character that when you’re seeing the dramatic scenes you feel that you can watch her and I can perform without people staring at the makeup.

We wanted to find a balance so it was an enhanced face but it felt like a soul could still come out through that face.

Is Maleficent a character that you could imagine returning to in the future?

Nobody’s asked me that. I don’t know. I’m not dead at the end of it so she’s still there. I loved playing her, so…..

At the press day, Angelina was asked what appealed to her most and least about the character of Maleficent. Play the video interview below to see her reply.



Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.