Of Princesses and Kings:
Behind the Scenes of MALEFICENT
By Evy Baehr, content editor of MOVIEGUIDE®
MALEFICENT is a live action take on Sleeping Beauty, but from the perspective of the villain. Angelina Jolie plays Maleficent who is the most powerful fairy in the forest with strong wings and powers. When Maleficent is hurt by the king, she puts a curse on baby Princess Aurora, saying she will prick her finger on her sixteenth birthday, and if she does not receive a true loves kiss, she will die. Because of some of the darker elements in MALEFICENT, Movieguide® highly recommends you read the review before seeing it.
Though this is the case, Movieguide® had the opportunity to talk with Elle Fanning about playing a princess and with Sharito Copley, who plays the evil king.
Question: Which Disney princess did you love as a child?
Elle: It’s weird, because mine was Sleeping Beauty. I felt like I looked like her the most when I was little. You kind of gravitate towards the one that you look the most like. She has long blond hair and a pink dress. I love pink. She was my favorite one, so this is like a dream.
Question: Are you like Aurora?
Elle: Like her, I am very happy. We get excited by things. Smile a lot. In that way yes, I think she is a little more naive just because she is so trapped away and sheltered in a little cottage. . . she is still curious which I like about her. In the original animated one, she is a little one dimensional. She is the pretty princess, then she sleeps. For ours, it was important to create a depth to her. . . [with] more layers. Experience sadness and betrayal and real emotions.
Question: Did your sister, Dakota, give you advice in the industry?
Elle: She definitely led the way. I don’t know if I had actually started. It started out that I played her at a younger age when I was little. Then I saw what she was doing and whatever big sister does, I wanted to follow. So I owe it to her for that, opening the doors. We are very supportive of one another.
Question: What was it like working with Angelina Jolie?
Elle: I was incredibly nervous to meet her. I don’t know what I was expecting. You see a picture of her, she looks so intense. When I met her the first time I didn’t know I was going to meet her that day. Everyone started saying “she’s here, she’s here.” I turned the corner, and there she was, not in the outfit, thank God, or that would have been terrifying. She was in normal clothes. We are both huggers. So, she immediately gave me a giant hug, [and] the nervousness went away. She is still powerful when she walks in to a room. She has that presence. I got to know her more sensitive side. Her kids were always on set. She was really playful.
Princess Aurora’s father is Stefan played by Sharito Copley. Stefan takes a destructive turn, and it completely consumes him.
Question: Is it more fun to play the villain?
Sharito: Not for me. I’ve always looked for something interesting. I was called happy as a kid, so I don’t really enjoy getting to the aggressive side to myself or trying to find that aggressive place or darker place. There is not too much there. For me in this film, it was worth doing because I saw Stefano as a cautionary tale for men of what can happen if your male drive is left to run rampant. How I played it was that he loved [Maleficent] the whole way. Once he made that sacrifice, it eats him and starts to make him crazy.
Question: Do you get into the emotion of the character and does it take a toll on you personally?
Sharito: It is taxing. . . . The way that I was raised, I would never under any reality put my hands on a women in an aggressive way. . . even my primal instinct is going the opposite way, and my logic obviously knows this is not the right way to behave. You get to the point where you have to override your fundamental base instincts. That was probably the single hardest thing for me.
MALEFICENT may be rated PG, but it’s not appropriate for children. Read here to find out why.