The sequel to Walt Disney Co’s 2014 hit ‘Maleficent,’ out now in the UAE, puts three women at the centre of a fight for control between humans and fairies.
Angelina Jolie stars in ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ as the titular villain and dark fairy godmother to Aurora, the queen of the fairies played by Elle Fanning.
When Aurora becomes engaged to the human Prince Phillip, the pending marriage brings Maleficent in conflict with Aurora’s future mother-in-law, Queen Ingrith, who is played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
It is the rare Hollywood movie where men are in secondary roles. “They’re just not the focus” in this film, Pfeiffer said.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, in the role of a mysterious figure named Conall, said the movie plays with many of the traditional narratives typical to fairy tales.
“There’s like 100 tropes that are exploded in this film,” Ejiofor said. “Seeing those explored in different ways, I think is very exciting.”
The sequel reflects the message of the original, which urged people not to judge a book by its cover or to attach labels to others that ostracise them.
The sequel amplifies the look with more fantastical creatures and more intricate costumes.
“You try that little bit harder to say ‘We’ve got to give them something better or we’ve got to give them something a little more fun,” said Jolie, who also acted as a producer of the film, “or this would make a better Halloween costume for the kids.”
FINDING IT TOUGH
For Jolie, slipping into the role once again was difficult.
“It was a tough time,” she told People magazine. “I’d been coming off a few years of difficulty, and I was not feeling very strong. In fact, I was feeling pretty broken. It took me a moment to feel the strength of [Maleficent] again.”
Jolie shares six children with her 55-year-old ex-husband Brad Pitt: daughters Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and Vivienne, 11, and sons Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, and Knox, 11.
But while her six kids hung around in London with their mother during most of the shoot, Jolie couldn’t get them to appear on screen this time. Even her 11-year-old daughter Vivienne, who appeared as a young Aurora in 2014 original, will not be seen in this flick.
“I tried,” Jolie says. “Viv still can’t believe I made her a princess. None of my kids want to be actors. [They’re into] business, humanitarian affairs, things like that. Nobody was interested!”
With the film, Jolie wants to send out a message to women to show their strength by working with rather than fighting men to improve the world.
“I think that, so often, when a story’s told which says ‘this is a strong woman’, she has to beat the man, or she has to be like the man, or she has to somehow not need the man,” Jolie told the BBC.
Speaking about her character Maleficent, who is shown as a more sympathetic figure than the Sleeping Beauty villain she is in the original Disney animation, Jolie added: “We very much need and love and learn from the men. And so I think that’s also an important message for young girls, to find their own power, but to respect and learn from the men around them.”
The star went on to say that she feels an important theme of female-led films is that female heroism and villainy takes very different forms, just like male greatness does.
“We have strong women, but the character that is wrong in the film and has to be taken out is also a woman. We show very diverse types of women between our characters, but also we have extraordinary men in the film, and I really want to press that point,” she said.
Five years after first meeting on the sets of the 2014 ‘Maleficent’, Jolie and Fanning’s bond has only strengthened after they started working together in the sequel.
And just like the film, Fanning said that her relationship with Jolie has changed now, since she has entered her early 20s.
“I’m older, and the things we can talk about now are different,” Fanning told People.
“I feel like I can ask her anything — and I have,” the 21-year-old star said.
Fanning noted that Jolie is someone who inspires her and added that the 44-year-old actor stands up for what she feels is right.
“Watching her is so inspiring. As a person, she has such strength in her convictions. She really stands up for what she feels is right and will protect you at all costs. I’ve truly seen that — her nurturing and protective instincts. It’s so beautiful,” Fanning said.
Jolie also opened up about the special place Fanning has in her life.
“The first moment she ever saw me, she was 14 and she ran up and gave me the biggest hug. Elle was the sweetest. Nothing about me intimidated her,” Jolie recalled of their first meeting.
“I’ll always feel close to Elle. I know she has great strength,” she added. “I’ve learned a lot with Elle, with my children I’m silly and light but sometimes in my life I’m not. Being with her as a child brought out this lightness this softness out in me, and it continues to be our relationship where she smiles at my strength and toughness and it makes me goofy and fun.”
Asked why it took five years for a sequel to be released, Jolie said Fanning ‘had to grow up’.
“I was 14, Angelina and I had the first movie and she’s watched me grow up and now here we are again, I’m older I feel like we have this bond which I felt I was accepted as one of the women on set,” Fanning added.
While their bonding on-screen was of a softer nature, their off-screen activities could get a little intense, including a paint ball outing where Jolie was far better than Fanning.
“Probably not Disney-approved, because we could have gotten injured. We had welts on our legs. I’d never gone paint balling before. Angelina does it a lot. She was good. I was trying. I hit her security guard in the neck. And he was on my team,” Fanning joked.
On the work front, apart from ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’, Jolie will be next seen in ‘The Eternals’, ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’, ‘Come Away’, and ‘The One and Only Ivan’.
Don’t miss it!
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is out now in the UAE.