There are opportunities that come your way in life that are pretty surreal. Of all the incredible events I have taken part in, none have compared to meeting Angelina Jolie. Her heart for her children, compassion for people, and dedication to life was extraordinary to hear first-hand. Sitting across a table from her, listening to her opening her heart mother-to-mother, brought Angelina Jolie into a new light for me.
Although we were in LA to talk about Maleficent, Angelina Jolie talked about much more than that. The movie itself brought out such an amazing realization to light that we found great ways to tie that into our conversation. We laughed as we talked about motherhood and even cried as she talked about her humanitarian efforts. But, underneath it all, we were moms in the room and a lot of our interview centered around her role as a mother… as well as her role as Maleficent.
Before taking the role of Maleficent, Angelina Jolie did not know much about the character. Honestly, I don’t know that any of us did. The classic Disney tale focused on Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent’s story was left untold. Therefore, it was difficult to know much about her, but Ms. Jolie did know that she was fascinated by her as a child. Not identifying with princesses at the time, she saw the villain as an “elegant, powerful woman who seemed to be having a great time.”
I found it charming that it was her brother that called her and told her that Disney was rumored to be working on the film. He insisted she make a call and try to be cast as Maleficent. I mean, what does that say for what her brother thinks about her? Totally kidding, of course. But, she took her brother’s advice and was delighted to eventually get the call. I honestly do not think I can see anyone else playing the role as well as she did. Simply incredible.
She was assisted in finding her inner villain by her children. As she bathed her children, she would try out new voices to see which ones they liked. Some voices they would ask her to stop until she came to “the voice.” It made them laugh so she did it more. That was the voice she chose for Maleficent. Angelina Jolie decided that if it made them happy, or smile, or they were interested in it then it was the right one. After all, Maleficent is a family movie and getting her own kids’ thoughts on the movie was perhaps the best way to gauge the audience’s possible reaction to the character.
Speaking of her character, Angelina Jolie took an active part in helping to design her costume. From the painted contacts to her horns, she helped the team develop the pieces she would wear throughout the movie. She would then spend around 2½ hours each day in hair and make-up getting ready to film. Her hair was put in buns to act as anchors for the lightweight horns and helped to hold them on. After trial and error with the full costume, they eventually created detachable horns, as well as bendable horns, to help her avoid knocking into things as she walked around the set.
In the end, as she took the first look at herself in full costume, she was pleased with the final look of Maleficent. She knew she wanted to avoid too much make-up in order to keep Maleficent as real as they could. Not a lot of pasted make-up. There were very real, very emotional scenes that needed to take place and Angelina Jolie wanted to ensure that Maleficent’s soul would come through. Believe me when I say they did an amazing job because you feel every bit of Maleficent’s emotions throughout the movie.
After realizing they were facing challenges with finding a young girl unafraid of Maleficent, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt made the decision to allow their daughter, Vivienne, to play young Aurora. Of course, that brought its own difficulties. We all know how our children can be. The four year old did not want to work during one scene and really put mom and dad to the test to get her to do so. Angelina Jolie had to run alongside Vivienne with a stick that posed as butterfly while Brad Pitt danced around to get her to jump into his arms. As a parent, I have played out similar scenes with my own children. I love how real this made her in my eyes.
One of my favorite tidbit of conversation with her came when we asked, “How do you do it all?” As moms ourselves, it seemed fitting. Her reply?
I have a supportive partner and he and I are able to take turns working often… 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. 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 like to make sure she could take me to my auditions and support me. Nobody acknowledged her for what she did; so that was hard. But, you know, mine’s not too bad at all. I can’t complain.
Again. Real. Down-to-earth. Humbling.
Oh, remember that time when we cried while talking to Ms. Jolie? She asked about her humanitarian efforts and how we, as every-day moms, could help do good for others. Her most important piece of advice:
…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.
How true is that? I love it. She even invited us to follow her at ESVI, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, June 10-13th at ExCel London. Why? In her words, “it takes all of us very tightly working together.” Amazing.
See the entire role come together with costume, voicing, acting, and motherhood as they collide as one into Maleficent. It will be in theaters May 30th and you will not want to miss it!
Be sure to catch our interview with Elle Fanning, as well as Sharlto Copley (King Stefan), Sam Riley (Diaval) and Director, Robert Stromberg! Not to mention, don’t miss my full movie review (as well as my 10 year old daughter’s thoughts) of Maleficent too.