Our chat with Elle Fanning: The 'Maleficent' star talks about working with Angelina Jolie

MALEFICENT Angelina Jolie was born to play Maleficent. She’s on just about every bus and bus shelter in the city at the moment, having mastered the perfect stare in her role as one of Disney’s most popular villains over the past five decades. Despite Jolie’s powerful presence, the new film ‘Maleficent’, about the villain from Disney’s animated film ‘Sleeping Beauty’, features another talented actress, Elle Fanning. Ahead of the film’s release nationwide on Thursday 29th May, we had a chat with the star that plays Aurora. She talked about having to fly, having to sleep and having to work with the most famous actress in the world… Remix: Who is Aurora? Elle Fanning: Most people know her as Sleeping Beauty from Disney’s animated film ‘Sleeping Beauty.’  What I like about our film is that you get to know her more because in the animated movie, she’s just this pretty girl who is asleep most of the time. In our film you get to see her have different emotions and really get the essence of her. I love how she’s very free spirited, and since she has been kept away from normal life, she’s very open to things and innocent. But that’s what makes her very likable and charming. Remix: How did you become involved with this film? EF: Without reading the script, I went in and I met with Rob Stromberg, Linda Woolverton and Joe Roth and in that first meeting they told me about the story, and that I would be playing Sleeping Beauty, which is like a dream come true for every girl in the whole world—a Disney princess!  We got along very well in the meeting and they gave me the script to take home and read. Remix: How did you want to approach this character? EF: I feel that because she’s so beloved by so many people that I wanted to try to do her justice in that way because she’s such an iconic character and I was hoping that I could bring the essence of her. Before we started filming the movie, I watched the animated movie again, just to see if I could pick up on any little mannerisms that she did while she’s in the forest, and when she brought those little princess elements. I wanted to make her have those elements but also make her a real person, not just an animated character. Remix: Who is Maleficent? EF: You think of Maleficent as the evil fairy with the horns and the intensity, and all that.  We definitely have that. There’s no one better to play Maleficent than Angelina Jolie. She is just so perfect; the way she looks, and everything. Maleficent is such a strong character and when I watched the animated movie I never really was super scared of her. I always thought that she was so elegant and had that angular beauty, so I was always intrigued with her.  So, we have that part of her as well. Yes, she’s strong and powerful, but you want to watch her the whole time because there is more to her than you knew. Remix: What do you think Aurora represents in this movie? EF: She exudes lightness and it’s so great in our movie that we have the dark and the light, total opposites, because they work so well together, like opposites attract in a way. Aurora is a very happy girl, but she experiences some things in the movie that are pretty sad. When you think about it, she’s just been growing up in this cottage with what she thinks are her three aunts, but who are actually pixies. She’s been told that she doesn’t have a mom and dad and talking about that subject is not allowed. You could feel sad for Aurora because she’s been locked away from the real world her whole life. Later on in the story she discovers her life and where she has come from.  It’s hard for her when she does have to hear that people have been keeping secrets from her for 16 years. Remix: Tell us about working with Angelina Jolie. EF: It’s really been amazing.  I remember meeting her for the first time in London. We were doing hair tests and makeup tests, the whole thing, and we were at Pinewood Studios. I turned the corner and there was Angelina. I had never met her before, and she gave me a big hug. She said we were just going to have so much fun together.  And we did have a lot of fun.  It’s been great. Remix: Tell us about the first time you saw her in full Maleficent costume.  EF: I came on set one day and Angelina was there, filming another scene. She had her contacts in, her horns on and prosthetics. I didn’t know what her look was going to look like, so it took me a second to take it all in. It was very dramatic. When I was filming with her, I got used to it. Then when I saw her when she was out of her prosthetics, I was like wait, that’s not you. Remix: Talk about the mud scene with Sam Riley. EF: We had a fun day doing the mud fight together. I’d never had a mud fight before, so it was my first one.  But the mud was like a clay mud mask or facial, so our skin was very soft afterwards.  We just got into it. We were on the set that has water in it, so I was in the pond, splashing around and throwing mud at everyone. Sam had to get very muddy as well.  It was a lot of fun. Remix: What is so appealing about this Disney film? EF: There’s something for everyone in a way, for boys, and girls, and adults as well. The movie has so many different emotions wrapped up into it, that when you come out of the theater you will be both laughing and crying. It really takes you on a ride of so many different emotions. Also, it’s going to look amazing because Robert Stromberg creates the most magnificent sets, and I can't wait to see what the movie is going to look like when it is finished. Remix: When they first showed you the scope of the world what did you think? EF: There’s this one room in Pinewood and every wall is covered with pictures of what Rob Stromberg wants the scenes to look like and all the different creatures. When you walk into that room, you get so excited because you get to see what the world’s going to be like. I love that everyone pays attention to all the details on this set. It’s just all the little things they’ve put in that make the movie so special. Remix: How has it been working with director Robert Stromberg? EF: Robert’s just been so nice to me; we’ve had a great time. He’s very funny and keeps it very light on set. He likes to get in there. If a tree branch isn’t in the right place he’ll go up and move it around and make sure that it looks right in the frame. I think that’s great. Remix: Tell us about the flying work you did. EF: I had to lie horizontally and there were three different rigs. They had to do a lot of different foam casts, so my body fit in the right position when I’m floating. It was fun. Remix: What has been the biggest challenge for you as an actress? EF: My character is sleeping a lot.  So I’ve had to make sure that on those days, in particular when it’s a long scene, that I stayed very still during and not flutter my eyes in any way. I had to find the inner calmness to relax, and just stay very still. That’s been a challenge. ‘Maleficent’ explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.  The film stars Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville. It’s in cinemas nationwide from 29th May. Click here for more information.