In 2014, Angelina Jolie brought the iconic Disney villain Maleficent to life on the big screen in a film that promised to tell the real story behind the fairy tale. This October, Jolie steps back into the role in order to continue the story with “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” and fight a battle that could spell the end of fairy kind forever.
This past Monday, members of the press were invited to see some of the cast and crew of “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” talk about their experiences. The conference started on a light note, with the host asking the cast what they wish they could have kept from the set.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Conall, one of the dark fae said that he wished he could have kept the Cheekbones that he wore. “I miss them!” Jolie revealed that she had kept the iconic staff that Maleficent used after the filming of the original film, but it “ended up in the children’s room, and I’m not quite sure where it actually is now.”
Director Joachim Ronning (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”) discussed joining this film in its second chapter, and how he wanted to expand on the visually rich world from the original.
“You do want to keep […] what’s important to the fans, but for me as a filmmaker, it’s important to make something original and take Maleficent to the next level and make Maleficent 2.0.”
He went on to discuss the emotional heart of the original film, and his work to keep that theme running in the sequel. Ronning continued, “a lot of […] the success of the first film was that it had such a strong emotional core and I think that was the most important thing for me, to continue telling that story. The story of Maleficent and Aurora. That’s a story I relate to as a parent myself.”
One of the names joining the story this time around is Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays the film’s villain and mother of Prince Phillip, Queen Ingrith. Pfeiffer said she was drawn to the film thanks to the “grey area” that the film plays in with regards to Good vs. Evil.
“It’s a very unusual fairy tale […] and I loved that it played in this grey area and it talked about Good vs. Evil, and all of us have a little bit of everything in us, and in terms of strength, it manifests differently in all of us. I mean, my character is really brilliant and diabolical, but I wouldn’t consider her terribly wise, and I like the way it plays out.”
Pfeiffer went on to talk about the inherent vulnerability that comes with wisdom and how she worked that into her performance of the evil queen. “Well, everybody has vulnerability, she just doesn’t wear it on her sleeve. And at the end of the day, what she resorts to is really, truly, at the end of the day, out of deep fear.”
Elle Fanning, who reprises her role as Princess Aurora in this film, talked about the journey her character has been on over the course of this story.
“I think Aurora symbolizes the good and the kindness in the world and the acceptance, and that was really shown in the first film because she’s younger and much more innocent, but still introduced to some dark things. But that does carry over into the second film, of her embodying this overwhelming love of life. She lives in both worlds […] she lives harmoniously with both sides and doesn’t understand why the world can’t do that.”
Fanning went on to discuss the choices that they made to show the princess’s newfound strength. “We didn’t want Aurora to be in armor or have a sword, and you know, she’s fighting and that’s what makes her strong. That’s not Aurora’s true nature, and I love that she symbolizes that. I was that girl, and I was always soft and very feminine and there’s nothing wrong with that, and we get to show the strength in accepting your femininity.”
When asked about how the love of Aurora from the first film had changed Maleficent, Jolie said, “Aurora and Maleficent were first brought together and became a family, and Maleficent was harmed in her life and lost herself and lost her ability to be soft and to feel loved, and you know it certainly happened in my life, the love of a child, being a mother brought out something in me that transformed me.”
She went on to discuss how the film shows the real growing pains that come from the differences between the two characters.
“There are metaphors in the film, not to be heavy about it […] people tell us because we’re not the same, we’re not family, because you’re not exactly like her, you’re not her mother, and that certainly strikes a chord with me. We go through this period in the film where everyone is focused on their differences, but then there’s a real push to say this is not how it should be, and this is not how to live, and diversity makes us stronger, and there must be a better way forward. And so we come together and we fight against this separation and we unite, and we say ‘this is the world we choose to live in.’”
To strengthen their bond, Jolie and Fanning played ping pong during their downtime on set. But unfortunately, neither of them could remember who won. “Well, it wasn’t me,” said Pfeiffer, “because I was never invited!”
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, Oct. 18. Check out the trailer for the film below: