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‘Maleficent’ Reveals First Footage at D23 Expo, Angelina Jolie Talks Her Witchy Role

Maleficent
Disney

During the D23 Expo’s second day of movie presentations in the Anaheim Convention Center in California, Sean Bailey, Walt Disney Studios’ president of production, came out to the stage to present the upcoming live-action offerings, including the first footage of Angelina Jolie as the evil witch in ‘Maleficent.’

It’s the untold story of the famed villainess of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ said Bailey. Robert Stromberg directed the film, which is produced by Joe Roth and written by Linda Woolverton. “We knew we had quite a task [in casting Maleficent],” he continued, before revealing the official still of Angelina Jolie in costume (shown above). The film will finally reveal the events that hardened Maleficent’s heart and led her to curse Aurora, played by Elle Fanning.

Per the official synopsis:

‘Maleficent’ is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.

We first see Maleficent as a teenage fairy, tending to nature, as well as this evil king lurking in the background of the story. According to Bailey, we’ll also get to see the epic battle with the dragon, during which time, he says, we might find ourselves rooting for the other side.

Then came the big surprise! “We have Maleficent herself,” said Bailey, before revealing Angelina Jolie to the audience. “Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite,” she said. “I was so terrified of her, but I was so drawn to her … she had this elegance and this grace, and yet she was so cruel — so wonderfully, deliciously cruel.”

Her brother was the first to inform of her the role and was the one who encouraged her to go for it. Then Disney gave her a call and the rest is history.

“['Maleficent'] has the elements of the world and all of the design is so much a part of the actual film,” said Jolie. “You have these beautiful fairy tale elements, and yet it has to be from the point of view of the villain … We had to push it as far as we could while staying true to the story.”

As excited as Jolie was to portray this Disney villain, including donning those iconic horns, children were not. As she recalled, little kids would visit the Disney set, and Jolie, thinking herself to be a Disney character, went up to them, not expecting them to scream at her in fear. One child even said, “Mommy, please tell the mean witch to please stop talking to me.”

Jolie’s daughter, Vivienne, however, was the one child who wouldn’t run away in terror. She, in fact, has a small role in the film, playing young Aurora.

The D23 Expo finished the presentation with a screening of the first ‘Maleficent’ trailer. To give you some idea of what was shown, it imagines the famous Christening scene of baby Aurora. The three fairies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) fly to the castle, ready to bestow their gifts on the child. As soon as the green fairy, Fauna, is about to present hers, the candles are snuffed out and a dark whirlwind heralds the evil witch herself. “Well, well,” says Jolie, accompanied by a villainous, whispered cackle.

Scenes flash forward as we see Aurora growing up into her teenage self, while we hear in the background the voice of Maleficent, engulfed in a green flame and casting the famed curse we can all probably recite from memory. (“Before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel …”)

“It’s something different than everything I’ve ever experienced,” said Jolie.

The film also stars Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville. ‘Maleficent’ opens in theaters on July 2, 2014.

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