“I’ve already got my horns fitted. My kids are very happy.”
Most moms don’t get the chance to say something like that, but Angelina Jolie is an unusual case. When she said this to EW, plans for the film version of Maleficent were still a few months off, but production is now underway on the update to the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty.
Disney has released the first image of the actress as the villainess in this live-action twist, which focuses not on the good princess Aurora, but on the backstory that led Maleficent to turn against the fairy-tale kingdom.
The horns look less like demonic protrusions of bone and more of a stylistic choice, kind of like the world’s most terrifying turban, with straps of leather seeming to wrap around her head. It’s actually fairly faithful to the original animated version, which on closer look also seemed to have horns that were made from bound together layers.
Even though this will be a family movie, there’s no denying the frightening visage of Jolie’s evil fairy. (Remember, she’s not a queen, folks.) There’s a kind of vampire quality to the tipped back head and slightly parted, blood-red lips, and of course the glowing eye — pure nasty.
The 3-D film, set to debut March 14, 2014 — a long ways off — co-stars Super 8‘s Elle Fanning as Aurora and is directed by Robert Stromberg, the Oscar-winning production designer of Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) is producing with Jolie, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palak Patel executive producing.
Other co-stars include Sharlto Copley (District 9), Sam Riley (On the Road), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow), Juno Temple (Atonement) and Lesley Manville (Secrets & Lies).
Here’s what Jolie had to say about the character in a recent interview with EW:
In this version, Sleeping Beauty is the nemesis instead of the good guy?
It’s not anti-princess, but it’s the first time they’re looking at this epic woman.
Is it sympathetic to her, or is she a straight-up villain?
It’s both. I hope in the end you see a woman who is capable of being many things, and just because she protects herself and is aggressive, it doesn’t mean she can’t have other [warmer] qualities. You have to figure out the puzzle of what she is.
So there are some redeeming qualities to Maleficent the witch?
It sounds really crazy to say that there will be something that’s good for young girls in this, because it sounds like you’re saying they should be a villain. [Maleficent] is actually a great person. But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect.
There’s a tradition of taking a classic character who is a villain and telling the story from his or her perspective. John Gardner did it with the 1971 novel Grendel, and more recently we got the witch’s story in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, and the musical it inspired. We like it when the bad guy is deeper than we thought.
In general, it’s a very good message to say, “Let’s look at something from the other side.” But then also, what our challenge will be — and the script writer [The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland’s Linda Woolverton] has already cracked it — is not to simplify it, not to just reverse the story but tell a bigger story that doesn’t point the finger [at Princess Aurora] either. It doesn’t flip it.
Since it’s a Disney film, will this version of Maleficent be close to the one we know from their 1959 animated film?
We’re still figuring out the look. We’re experimenting with different things. But the horns are the horns — you can’t deny them. You have to have horns.