The highly anticipated Maleficent had its big red carpet premier last night at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood and is finally released today! Telling the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent explores the untold history of its classic villain and reveals the betrayal that turned her heart into stone. The vengeful multifaceted villain is one of Disney's biggest successes, oftentimes overshadowing the beloved princesses that always win in the end, and it's about time Disney told her side of the tale.
Admittedly, Maleficent isn't without its problems (from the rushed emotional developments to the stuttered rhythm), but it looks and sounds amazing. And more importantly, Angelina Jolie nails it. Thanks to makeup artist Rick Baker, Jolie's look is perfect due to prosthetics on her nose, cheeks, ear, teeth and contact lenses — not to mention the huge set of horns on her head. She is so good that I wish the script had given her a little more to work with. You see a bit of the darkness the movie could have delivered when it recreates the villain's first scene in the Disney original (the coronation ceremony). Though mostly word-for-word the same, Maleficent deviates from the cartoon by forcing King Stefan to his knees and making him beg her not to cast the curse. Instead of keeping up with the dominatrix edge, the film backs down and you don't see that same fire in Maleficent again.
That said, the film is worth checking out, especially if you ever doubted Jolie's onscreen power. Before you see Maleficent, check out what Angelina Jolie had to say last week at a roundtable junket at the Four Seasons Los Angeles, where she talked about her daughter's role in the film, her health, the makeup process, and her upcoming directed project Unbroken.
How did you prepare for the role?
Angelina Jolie: 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.
Your daughter Vivienne appeared in the film as five-year-old Aurora; were you reluctant to have your daughter in the film?
AJ: Brad [Pitt] 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. […] 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. […] 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, [one who] 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."
How would you feel about your other kids doing movies?
AJ: I just want them to like it like this, I want them to do it for fun only, and if, when they get older they decide to be actors, I would just ask that they...that that’s not the center of their lives, that that’s an aspect but that they also do many other things with their lives and are involved in many other things. Because I don’t think it’s a healthy focus as a center of your life.
What part did timing play in this? If this project had come up five years ago, would you have considered it?
AJ: It’s such a great project I imagine I would always have considered it, but I think it was really...after having directed and thinking that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to act or how good I’d be. My kids are now all watching all these movies and wanting to play with mommy. It was perfect timing to have them all 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, you know, do something for myself and my art...but just play. Just remember what it is to play and entertain and try something bold.
Motherhood had everything to do with it then?
AJ: 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 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. You know, I’d come home and, “How was your day honey?” “I was a fairy, I don’t know.” But somehow you have to...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.
What would a nonparent underestimate about what actually appeals to kids in movies? Like what appeal to your kids?
AJ: […] 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 character deaths. And I was very confused by that so...not confused, I was surprised. […] 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.
What happens to Maleficent in the film is incredibly dark; is there a lesson that you want kids to take away from the movie? Is there any relationship to your surgery?
AJ: No, yeah not at all. The surgery was something I did certainly that made my...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 [Maleficent] was more like a rape and something that she had no choice in and something that was done with ill intent. For children, it’s abuse, it’s being bullied, it’s being hurt. For [adults]…we’ve all had that moment where somebody really hurt us and it changed us. 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.
Could you describe the process of getting ready, the prosthetics, the makeup, everything?
AJ: It wasn’t that much, 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 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. It just all slowly came together. We tried different things and some of the things didn’t work. […] 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 [that] 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.
Compared to the first film you directed [Blood and Honey], do you feel like the second time with Unbroken is different? Were you more assured?
AJ: Yes, but I jumped into something so much bigger, so it was daunting in a whole different way. Blood and Honey I wrote, it was in a few rooms, you know, there were certain things to tackle and certainly the politics of it which you balance and many, many things like that. But getting into Unbroken…two plane crashes and shark attacks and 47 days at sea and three prison camps and the 1936 Olympics, and you know, it races. You wake up in the morning and you think, "God there’s a way to do that, isn’t there?" Like directors...there’s a way to direct races - 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, I have to...with the bombardiers and...I have to really understand how they went in formation, who was where, what happened. So it was just so much more. 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 kind of like...it was a new scare.