ANAHEIM – Angelina Jolie surprised the crowd at Disney’s biannual D23 event by taking the stage in order to discuss her upcoming fantasy film “Maleficent,” and introduce some exclusive footage from the film.
The film is the latest big-budget Hollywood treatment of a classic fairy tale, although this take on the beloved story “Sleeping Beauty” won’t be the way you remember the story.
Jolie stars as the title baddie, and the film will show the fairy tale from her perspective. What’s surprising, however, is just how slavishly faithful the film appears to be to Disney’s 1959 animated version.
The D23 clip was essentially a remake of the opening scene of the 1959 film, in which the infant princess Aurora’s (Elle Fanning) christening is rudely interrupted by Maleficent, who is bitter for not being invited, and seems to have an ugly history with the king, played by Sharlto Copley. In a flurry of anger green flame, she curses the baby to fall into a permanent coma on her sixteenth birthday. Naturally, only true love’s kiss can awaken her. The film will delve into the past and explore how Maleficent came to be so nasty.
The scene allows Jolie to vamp it up as an intimidating and angular villainess who looks pretty much exactly like her animated counterpart. It was dark and full of CGI (including Aurora’s flying fairy friends) but seems to closely maintain the spirit of the original film.
As Jolie put it, “It has to have an edge and something sexy and darker and more and we still had to stay true to the original.”
“Maleficent” is the directorial debut of Robert Stromberg, art director for “Avatar,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
In addition to introducing the clip, Jolie talked about growing up a fan of both “Sleeping Beauty” and Maleficent, saying, “I was terrified of her, but I was always drawn to her. She had this elegance and this grace, and yet she was so cruel.”
The Oscar winner noted that her brother — also a lifelong fan — talked her into chasing the part.
Jolie also discussed dressing the part for the scary role. “People would bring their kids to set and I would be like, ‘Oh, I’m a Disney character,’ so I’d go over to see them, and they would scream,” she laughed. “One kid said, ‘Mommy, tell the witch to stop talking to me!”
“Maleficent” also stars Juno Temple, Sam Riley, Miranda Richardson, and Imelda Staunton.
“Maleficent” will be released July 2, 2014.