Angelina Jolie sat down with press to talk about bringing the iconic Disney villain Maleficent to life. She shared what it was like to embody one a classic animated characters and personify her in a new way. The Maleficent story you used to know is not the one being brought to the screens and Jolie gives some insight to the changes. She also talks having her kids on set and her new adventures in directing.
On whether there were challenges when she delved into the role of Maleficent
Angelina Jolie: You realize that there’s no halfway, that if you’re gonna do it, you can’t kind of do it. 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 when I got them laughing, I figured I was on to something.
Why Vivienne Pitt had to be little Princess Aurora and Jolie’s reluctance to see her child fill the role
Angelina Jolie: Well, Brad and I never wanted our kids to be actors. We never talked about it as a thing 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 hem either– just to have a good healthy relationship with it. 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. We realized that there was no way that we were going to find a 4 or 5-year-old that would not see me as a monster. And suddenly there was Vivie 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.
Jolie candidly shared what it was like working with her daughter
Angelina Jolie:She was good. The first day was the day she had to catch the butterfly and she just really didn’t feel like doing it. 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. She eventually did it but she was just taking her sweet time and not wanting to do it twice. 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 it together we had a good time, we played together.
Timing and Motherhood had everything to do with Jolie undertaking this project
Angelina Jolie: (Motherhood) 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 actually a bit nervous to take her on. I just thought, I don’t have a big theater voice, I don’t do things that are kind of comedic, I don’t. 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 and it’s a little scary, that’s what we have to do as artists.
How she believes kids don’t always want things sugar coated and sees them as capable of deeper understanding than generally accepted.
Angelina Jolie: My boys saw an early cut of Unbroken the other day and I thought they would be talking about the sharks, and instead they asked me about one of the characters deaths. And I was surprised by that. I think the depth, what children can handle and what they’re really interested in is much deeper than I think people assume. And it think it’s why sometimes we make things too simple for them. I think a film like this, people say, “is it too dark for children?” It’s not. They want to understand things that frighten them, they want to see dark things that happen and they want to see how to rise above them. They don’t want to be hidden from all things and everything sweetened. I think that’s something that always surprises me about children.
Maleficent’s wings get taken from her in the picture’s opening, Jolie shares how her surgery while it mirrors that was not at all similar to the experience her character undergoes. That that experience is more of a universal symbol of traumatic circumstances inflicted upon people against their will.
Angelina Jolie: The surgery was something I did certainly that was a choice I made myself and something that was I happy to have the option and the health care and the ability to make a choice to be here around longer for my children. It was a wonderful thing. What happened to her was more like a rape and something that she had no choice in and something that was done with ill intent. I think people will see it and I think they will see for children it’s abuse, it’s being bullied, it’s being hurt.
For anybody, we’ve all had that moment where somebody really hurt us and it changed us. And so I think children will identify with that in different ways, and it’ll upset them but then they’ll also get angry with her hopefully and then they’ll also want her to grow past it, and they’ll kind of go on that journey of understanding how you could ever evolve past that and what that is.
Why she felt strongly about telling this story at this time
Angelina Jolie: I wanted to do something 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 was, in fact, an important story to tell.
On directing her second film Unbroken
Angelina Jolie: I jumped into something so much bigger, so it was daunting in a whole different way because suddenly there were certain things to tackle. Getting into Unbroken–two plane crashes and shark attacks and 47 days at sea and three prison camps, and the 1936 Olympics. You wake up in the morning and you think, ‘God there’s a way to do that, isn’t there?’ This isn’t just show up at work and cover it this way or that way. Like this is actually something I have to really understand—with the bombardiers and I have to really understand how they went in formation, who was where, what happened…
Yeah, it was just so much more that. There were just days I didn’t know if we would be able to track it all and accomplish it all. Because we didn’t have that much money, we didn’t have that much time. So, yeah, it was a new scare.
Maleficent opens May 30th