Angelina Jolie ('Maleficent')
Every villain is the hero of their own story, which can certainly be said for the title character in Maleficent. Played to wickedly delightful perfection by Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie, Maleficent is so much more than just a villain. Once you learn about the elements of the betrayal that ultimately turned her pure heart to stone and led her to place an irrevocable curse upon the infant Aurora, you will begin to understand how she got her reputation.
Directed by Robert Stromberg and written by Linda Woolverton, the film also stars Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Brenton Thwaites.
Meeting up with Jolie at a small round table press junket recently, I first asked her what was it like to put on the full costume and horns? "Part of the thing with this role is that you realize that thereís no half-way. If youíre going to do it, you canít kinda do it. You have to just go fully into it and enjoy it. 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 worried that Iíd fail the original. But, I practiced a lot with my children. When I got them laughing, I figured that I was on to something."
You wanted to get them laughing, as this character? Is that really what you were going for? "Well, they laughed, they cried, and they hid in the corner."
Your daughter, Vivienne, is in the movie, as young Aurora, but youíve said that you were a little reluctant to let her do that. Why is that, and what ultimately made it okay? "Well, Brad and I have never wanted our kids to be actors. Weíve never talked about it. But, we also want them to be around film and be a part of mommy and daddyís life, and for it not to be kept from it either. We just want them to have a good, healthy relationship with it. 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 children completely freeze, and then cry. It was like terror. And so, I felt so bad. And 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."
"Suddenly, there was Vivi, running around looking like little Aurora and everybody thought, ďOh, the answer is right there.Ē But then, I had to go home and talk to dad. Itís our kid, so itís so sweet. The idea of it was so cute to us, as mommy and daddy. But then, there was the fact that she would be in a film. All of that took us a second."
How did she work on the set? "She was good. The first day was the day that she had to catch the butterfly, and she just really didnít feel like doing it. I actually was holding the pole with the ball on the end, and bouncing up and down and dancing, trying to make her laugh. And daddy was on the edge of the cliff that she had to jump off, making faces and doing all of these things. And her brothers and sisters were egging her on. She eventually did it, but she was taking her sweet time, and didnít want to do it twice, certainly. But then, when we got to our scene Ė and we had practiced it a little bit at home Ė we had a good time together. We played together. I was actually shocked that she was doing so well. Inside, I thought, ďOh, she went back and hit her mark. Thatís frightening!Ē"
Have you changed your mind about having your kids in movies, after this experience? "I just want them to like it and do it for fun, only. If, when they get older, they decide to be actors, I would just ask that thatís not the center of their lives. That can be an aspect, but I also want them to do many other things with their lives and get involved with many other things. I donít think itís a healthy focus, as a center of your life."
What part did timing play, in your wanting to do this project? Would you have considered it five years ago? "I donít know. Itís such a great project that I imagine I would have always considered it. After having directed and thinking that I wasnít sure if I wanted to act, it wasnít returning to act in anything normal. It was a crazy idea, and I was so challenged by it. My kids are now all watching all of these movies and wanting to play with mommy. It was perfect timing to have them all on set, playing and being a part of the adventure with me. For me, as an actress, I wanted to not do something where Iím taking myself so seriously, and trying to do something for myself an my art. I wanted to remember what it is to play and entertain, and try something bold."
So, motherhood had a lot to do with it, then? "It had a lot to do with it. Also, the artist in me felt that itís good to do something bold, every once in awhile, that youíre not comfortable with and havenít done. I was a bit nervous to take her on. I donít have a big theater voice. I donít do things that are comedic. This is such a crazy idea. Iím a fairy. Iíd come and hear, ďHow was your day, honey?Ē And Iíd be like, ďI was a fairy. I donít know.Ē But somehow, itís great to jump into things youíre not sure of and you havenít done and that are a little scary. Thatís what we have to do, as artists."
What surprises you about what appeals to your kids, when they watch the movies that you show them? "My boys saw an early cut of Unbroken the other day, and I thought they would be talking about the sharks. Instead, they asked me about one of the characters deaths, and I was surprised by that. I think what children can handle and what theyíre interested in is much deeper than people assume. Itís why sometimes we make things too simple for them. With a film like this, people say, ďIs it too dark for children?Ē Itís 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 donít want to be hidden from all things, and have everything sweetened. I think thatís something that always surprises me about children."
One of the dark scenes is when Maleficentís wings are taken. What do you want kids to take away from that? Is there a lesson there? Was there any relationship to how you felt with the surgery that you had? "No, not at all. The surgery was something I did that was a choice I made, myself. That was something where I was happy to have the option and the health care and the ability to make the choice to be around longer for my children. It was a wonderful thing. What happened to her was more like a rape. It was something that she had no choice in, and it was something that was done with evil intent."
"I think people will see it and they will see that itís abuse. Itís being bullied and hurt. Weíve all had that moment where somebody really hurt us, and it changed us. So, I think children will identify with that in different ways. It will upset them, but then, theyíll also get angry with her, hopefully, and theyíll want her to grow past it. And theyíll go on that journey of understanding how you could ever evolve past that, and what that is."
What was the process of getting into this character, each day? "It wasnít that much. The creation of it took a little time, to figure out how to do the horns and how to get them on my head and how to get them to stay. We used my hair in braids to nail it down. It was a head piece, with the horns. It wasnít like a headband. So, weíd put my hair in these little balls, and then youíd put the head piece over and pull the braids through, and youíd use that to anchor it. We had different horns. At first, they were too heavy. And then, we got them softer. We had some that would snap off because I kept banging into things. It all slowly came together. We tried different things, and some of the things didnít work."
"We had feather hair, at one point. We went that crazy. We said, ďWell, sheís a bird. Maybe she has feather hair.Ē But when we finally got to it, we just wanted to have a character where, when youíre seeing the dramatic scenes, you feel that you can watch her and I can perform without people staring at the make-up. We wanted to really find a balance, so that it was an enhanced face, but it still felt like a soul could still come out through that face."
Why did you alter your nose? "Well, my nose is not very strong. Itís a fine nose, but it can be a cute nose. I wanted her to have a stronger nose, so she had a little piece to make it less of a slope and more of a bump. We wanted everything to have angles. We wanted to take the softness out of my face, and make Maleficent sharper and stronger."
Is Maleficent a character that you could imagine returning to, in the future? "Nobody has asked me about that. I donít know. I canít imagine. Iím not dead, at the end of it. Sheís still there. I donít know. I loved playing her."
Why did you feel so strongly that this was the story that you needed to tell? "Well, I wanted to do something that my children could see. I wanted to have fun and explore different art and performance, in a way I hadnít done. But most of all, I read Lindaís script and I was really moved by it. I actually got very emotional when I finished it. I thought it was one of the best scripts Iíd read, in a long time, because of the issues it dealt with. I thought it was, in fact, an important story to tell."
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