Remember how I rambled on and on about my Maleficent trip? My first post sharing the experience is one I can hardly believe I was part of. We were given the chance to sit down and chat with Maleficent herself, Angelina Jolie. Honestly, I thought it would be surreal; as if I’d have to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. In reality, the atmosphere couldn’t have been more relaxed. Angelina was so gracious and welcoming. She spoke with us about her role as Maleficent, her role as a mother and her role in helping bring awareness to international causes dear to her heart.
From the beginning she was friendly and more than happy to meet us.
Angelina (AJ) : Oh, this is so fun. I was so curious what this group of Mommy Bloggers was. This is fantastic!
You’ve done all kinds of movies. What brought you to this moment with a family Disney movie?
AJ : Ah, well I read this script and I just, I was so moved by it. And have you seen… You’ve seen the film? So you know. So we can’t say why, but we all know very well why. And I was moved by it as a mother. But I was also really moved by it because I thought of myself as a little girl, and I thought of all the kids I know, and I just think of that thing of feeling different, feeling outside, and also as a woman, feeling abused and this ideal if you’ve ever been abused and then you kind of, as a woman, put this wall up.
And you become darker and you’re not able to be this soft person that you were born to be. And then what could possibly ever bring you back? And the thing that brings her back is very much the thing that brought me back. And so, I was very, very connected to it.
How much of the Maleficent story did you know before you read the script?
AJ : I didn’t really know anything. I just, when I was a little girl, I did think she was just, I was fascinated by her. I didn’t really identify with the princesses, at the time. Princesses have gotten a little more modern, but I thought she was just, you know […] it’s like a little kid seeing Marlene Dietrich for the first time. It was like seeing this elegant, powerful woman who seemed to be having a great time and she was so… just her voice and her. So I was a bit fascinated by her. And then there was a rumor that the movie was going to be made, I got a call from my brother. And he was like, Ang, you’ve got to, you’ve got to make a call to Disney, you got to try to get in on this. So I was very happy when I got the call.
So just the idea of a Disney movie, having children and just being a big kid myself, and wanting to do a little bit of that was fun. But I really didn’t know, we didn’t, we couldn’t. I joked with Linda, I said, how could you possibly make a story where people have any connection to, or empathy for, somebody that curses a baby? It’s just, it’s going to be impossible. And I think she did an extraordinary job.
So how long did it take you to get ready for filming with the hair and makeup?
AJ : I think it was about two and a half hours at the end of the day. Which wasn’t as bad, we had really a great team. And they’d work together, Tommy and Arjen, and they kind of, we did it all at once. So no, it wasn’t too bad.
Was the head piece heavy?
AJ : They were so great, they were so sweet in that they worked so hard to make it not heavy. My hair was in these really funny little buns in order to get the head piece. And then my hair was used as kind of the thing that held the horns on. And they made it very lightweight. And then they also had detachable horns, partially for weight, and also because they kept knocking myself out. If I’d go out the door, because I was about seven and a half foot high, and I’d contact something and I couldn’t… [laughter] So the first few days, I was just a complete mess. So they made them [so] that I could snap them.
What did you think the first time you saw yourself in full makeup and costume?
AJ : I was really happy. I was. I was really happy because we went through a few stages where, in trying to find her, we had a few that weren’t so great, you know. There was a period where we thought, okay, well she’s got wings, so she’s part bird fairy, maybe she had feather hair. You know, so we went kind of in many, many different directions. And then at the end of the day, we kind of said, it has to be that, because it is a real film and she has real scenes and emotional scenes, it can’t be so much makeup that you’re starring at some pasted makeup. The soul has to come through. So it had to be enough to be a creature [but] enough to be kind of worldly, but still be able to have very serious scenes. I think they did an amazing job.
How did you find your voice that you use for this film? Did you just stand in front of a mirror practicing?
AJ : I did, my kids helped me find it. I always tell stories, I’m sure we all have a few voices. I tell them stories and I [was] doing this thing where a few nights in a row I would tell them stories in the bath. And I was trying out voices and a few they’d say, please stop. And then, sometimes they’d listen and they’d kind of be more engaged. And I kept trying and trying and trying.
And then I did that voice and they couldn’t stop laughing. And so I kept doing it more, and more, and more, and more, and more. So they still make me do it. I had to do it the other night for bedtime. And for the look and everything, I would kind of run it by them, and if it made them happy, or made them smile, or they were interested in it, you know, then it was right.
Can you talk about your humanitarian efforts? How can a [not famous] mom, who doesn’t have all the things you do… how can they start small in their own community and do good for others?
AJ : Well I think the first of every-every mom, the most important thing we do, is we raise our children with love and compassion to become great people and thoughtful of others and that’s the most important thing. If everybody did just that, we’d have a very different world. And encourage our children’s education and help them to be conscious of the world around them. I think mothers have the most powerful role. There was even examples of Taliban fighters who stopped because their mothers stopped them. Because the mothers became educated. They couldn’t stop the men, but they educate the mothers and the mothers got them back home.
So the mother’s a powerful thing. I think beyond that, especially with being online, there is so much to connect to and there is so much that can be done. And it is, as you see now with the situation with the Nigerian girls, that’s not government, that’s the masses speaking out. And pushing for government change. It sometimes doesn’t feel like every voice counts, but it really does.
There’s a conference in June I’d love you to be aware of that I’m doing, the Foreign Secretary of England, June tenth to the thirteenth. Which is called PSBI, it’s the largest summit ever to end sexual violence in conflict. And it’s in England, it’s open to the public. We’ve realized that it’s not just governments, and it’s not just NGO’s – everybody has to come together. So NATO will be there, peace keepers will be there, governments will be there, and it’s open to the public, and NGO’s, and victims, and doctors will be there. So everybody together will spend four days. I think that’s what these things take. It takes all of us very tightly working together.
You’ve executive produced on other film before, how was this film different as a producer?
AJ : I kind of just ended up as a producer by nature of having to do so much they just ended up; I wasn’t early on a producer, or asked to be one. I ended up having to deal with the costumes, or deal with some of the stunts or the effects, or the makeup… So they felt at a certain point that I should. But, it wasn’t like the kind of work I do when I produce things, like on Broken or other things.
As a mother, how did get your daughter into the film? Did you change your perspective in the way that you did it? What was it like working with her in the film?
AJ : It was a tough choice to do it. I mean, I think everybody knows the reason why I objected, you know, because I was really scaring other kids… But [the film is] not frightening for children. I keep saying that, but I did scare. You know, because in person, and little kids, just really, I kept thinking I was a Disney character and I’d want to talk to them. And they’d get mad and essentially leave. So we realized what four or five year old little girl can I be really mean to and say things like, “I don’t like children?” and have her like be fine? We realized it was probably Viv [Vivienne]. And it took us a while to make sure that that was an okay thing to do.
But the other day, I just wanted to play with her. And it was really fun. And the first day she had to catch the butterfly and, like any four year old, she just decided she didn’t want to. So there’s some really, really funny outtakes of Brad and I… I’ve actually got the stick with the blue ball, that’s supposed to be the butterfly and I’m kind of running in front of her. And Brad’s off the edge of the cliff, kind of trying to like dance and make her jump into his arms. And she made us work all for that. It was the hardest working… And the people at Disney did say it was the funniest dailies that they’d ever seen. And it exists somewhere, I haven’t seen them, I should get them. But it was lovely to do it.
Will we see more family-centric movies?
AJ : Well Broken, it’s a heavier movie, but we’re-we’re aiming for PG-13. And I think it’s very important that it’s for young people, because, there is so much out there that is just so aggressive… I’m not against, you know, but I wanted to do something that I felt was inspiring and that young people would be inspired by. My boys saw it for the first time the other day and I watched them sit through the whole [thing], and I wantched their heads to see if they’d move. And they didn’t. They asked me so many interesting questions about faith, and life, and death, and war.
I think it’s very important now we can talk to our kids about real life issues, and real stories, and real film, about something that makes them walk away for it feeling like there’s a chance, and that the spirit inside of them can rise up against anything, and they can feel good about that, and no matter how they start, they can rise. And so that’s the message behind that one. But for Disney characters, we’ll see, we’ll see if I get cast again.
As a mom, humanitarian, entertainer – how do you do it all?
AJ : Well, you all know as moms, I’m in a very lucky position. I have a supportive partner and he and I are able to take turns working often. And when you make a film, it doesn’t take all year around. When I direct it does, but I get to decide when I leave in the morning and when I come home at night, and I can edit in my bedroom, and sometimes, and would be there in case there’s an emergency with the children. So I have a very rare luxury with my job to be able to have my kids with me on set every day and home school. And other mothers have it much harder than I do, and don’t have the means to have the assistance I do.
I don’t feel like I, by any means, do anything exceptional. My mom was a single mom and she had a lot of difficulty and she gave up her dreams to make sure she could take me to my auditions and support me. And nobody acknowledged her for what she did, you know, so that was hard. But, mine’s not too bad at all. I can’t complain.
What did your kids think the first time they saw you in full costume?
AJ : I realized it was a bad idea, it was bad parenting on my part. I should have brought them in early and have them watch me get in my makeup. But I thought it would be really fun to surprise them. And they came on and some of them were fine, they just got a little, you know, quiet. And one, Pax, ran away from me. And I made the mistake of thinking he was playing a game and I chased after him. And then realized he was upset.
And so, he had to come in the makeup trailer and watch me take everything off. It was interesting because we wondered, we actually wondered about Maleficent, we talked with Disney, like why is she considered the most evil? I mean, obviously what she does, but what is it about children that they see her, and I think that’s what happened to my children. It was that because it’s a woman, and an older woman, its mom. And to my kids it was that a woman, that should be nurturing, was now the figure that was slightly terrifying.
The mom had disappeared and they were really wanting to know where mom went. But, I think that’s actually why she’s particularly disturbing for children, and why maybe children will embrace her, because it does feel that you should be safe with an older woman, you know.
Personal note: After meeting Angelina I have a new found respect for her. As ‘untouchable’ as fans believe she is, she’s actually warm, humorous (she had us laughing more than once) and very down to earth. She’s also even more gentle and has a softness to her… far more than the media portrays. She’s a mom, she’s an actress, she’s a humanitarian. I was very happy that I was able to meet her and see how much of an amazing woman she really is. (and no one could have played a better Maleficent. No one.)
Stay tuned because I’ll be bringing you even more sneak peeks and interviews with cast members Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley and Director Robert Stromberg.
Maleficent premieres nation wide on May 30th. You can get more information, watch clips and even preorder tickets on Disney.com – skip the disappointment when it’s sold out. And, trust me…it will sell out.
*Travel expenses and accommodations provided by Disney in exchange for editorial coverage on RJC. All opinions expressed will be my own.