Angelina Jolie has tackled several diverse characters throughout her career, including an iconic video game character (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), a covert assassin (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and a kung-fu fighting tiger (Kung Fu Panda), but rarely has she played a villain. She gets to take on one of the most iconic evil characters in Disney's Maleficent, which hits theaters on May 30. The actress recently participated in a roundtable interview session, where she spoke about how the costume helped her get into character.
Maleficent originated with Eleanor Audley's voice performance in Sleeping Beauty, but this live-action revisionist version of the 1959 animated classic is a much different take on the character, giving Maleficent an origin story that shows how her heart was turned to stone. Angelina Jolie revealed that the costume helped her get into character, and that she practiced the voice with her children.
"I think that was part of the thing with this role, is you realize that there's no halfway, that if you're gonna do it, you can't kind of do it and kind of ... you're gonna have to just to fully get into it and enjoy it. And the original 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, my voice and my ... and when I got them laughing, I figured I was on to something."
Speaking of her children, Angelina Jolie's daughter Vivienne Jolie-Pitt plays a younger version of Princess Aurora in the film, with Elle Fanning playing the older version of the Disney Princess. Although Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt didn't want their children to become actors, the actress revealed that her casting came out of necessity.
"Well, Brad and I never wanted our kids to be actors, we never talked about it as a thing, you know. But we also want them to be around film and be a 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. Umm, and this came about because there were kids that would come to set and they would see me and I would go up and say "hi" to them and they would cry. I actually had one child completely freeze and then cry, it was like terror. And so I felt so bad, but 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 Vivi running around looking like little Aurora and everybody kind of thought, 'Oh, the answer's right there,' but then I had to go home and talk to dad and we both sat around thinking. It's our kid, so it's so sweet, the idea of it's so cute to us as mommy and daddy but then the fact that she's in a film and suddenly it's the world and film and all that. The first day was the day she had to catch the butterfly and she just really didn't feel like doing it. So, so I actually was holding the pole with the ball on the end and bouncing up and down and kind of dancing trying to make her laugh, and daddy was on the edge of the cliff she had to jump off, kind of like making faces and doing all these things, and her brothers and sisters were kind of edging her on, and you know, she eventually did it but she was just taking her sweet time and not wanting to do it twice certainly, because that was, you know. But then when we got to ... to our scene, we'd kind of practiced it a little bit at home where I'd say, like 'Okay, I'm gonna say go away and then you try to, you know, get back...' So by the time we did that, when we did it together we had a good time, we played together and it was ... I was actually shocked that she was doing so well, you know, inside I thought, oh, she went back and hit her mark, it's frightening."
With such an elaborate costume to put on every day, including those famous horns, one might think it was quite an ordeal to get ready for shooting each day. The actress revealed that it took some time to figure out how the horns would actually stay on her head throughout each day.
"It wasn't that much, the creation of it took a little time to figure out how to do the horns, you know, even how to get them on my head and how do they stay on the head. We used my hair as kind of my braids to nail it down to different things. Well, it was a headpiece, of course, with the horns, it wasn't like a headband. So we kind of put my hair in these balls and then you put the headpiece over and you pull the braids through and then you use it to anchor it. And then we had different horns. At first they were too heavy, then we got them softer, then we found ones that would snap off because I kept banging into things, and, you know, it just all slowly came together. We tried different things and some of the things didn't work, you know. We had feather hair at one point. But we finally go to it, we just wanted to have a character that when you're watching it, when you're seeing the dramatic scenes you feel that you can watch her and I can perform without people staring at the makeup, so we wanted to really find a balance so it was kind of an enhanced face but it still felt like a real face somehow. That a soul could still come out through that face."
When asked if she would consider revisiting the character for a sequel, Angelina Jolie had this to say.
"Nobody's asked me that. She's still there. I don't know, I don't know. I loved playing her, I loved playing her, so."
She also said that part of the reason she took on this role was to make a movie that her young children can watch and enjoy.
"Well, I think I wanted to do something that was ... that my children can see, I wanted to have fun and explore different art and performance in a way I hadn't done. But most of all, I read Linda's script and I was really moved by it and I actually got very emotional when I finished it and I thought it was one of the best scripts I had read in a long time because of the issues it dealt with and I thought it would ... it was, in fact, an important story to tell."
Robert Stromberg makes his directorial debut in Maleficent, after spending years as a visual effects artist and production designer, winning Oscars for Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. When asked how much influence she had in the hiring of Robert Stromberg, the actress had this to say.
"Well, it was Disney's choice. And, you know, I think they felt strongly that to hire somebody ... he hadn't directed before but he was very into Creation of World and the script was so strong that we kind of felt that all pieces would come together because we had such a solid script and even though he hadn't directed before, the script would kind of help in a way, direct itself and the actors would feel close to their characters, and he did really have this focus on the creatures and what the world would look like and the feeling. I haven't seen the 3-D but I'm sure his history would be instrumental in making that work."
When asked about what she hopes fans take away from Maleficent, the actress had this to say.
"You just never know, especially when you make something, you hope you make it the best it can be but you don't know what's going to last. When I see it with an audience it'd be the first time I can feel everybody observing and know if it worked. And if it did, of course, I mean I would just love that. I think it is a really good story and I think it's one that has good messages in it and it's, you know, entertaining and all of that, but I think it's ... when we can make stories for children that they can walk away with having thoughts about things they didn't normally think about or learned a little something or felt heart warmed by something, then we've done something better."