Speaking with Entertainment Weekly on the eve of her directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey” hitting home video, Angelina Jolie confirmed that her next feature will be the “Sleeping Beauty” retelling “Maleficent.” “The next thing I’m doing is ‘Maleficent’ for Disney. I start it in June, and it’s a really great script,” Jolie told the site. “I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve already got my horns fitted. My kids are very happy.”
“Maleficent,” is of course, a retelling of Disney’s 1959 animated classic “Sleeping Beauty,” but told from the point of view of the wicked witch (with her horns, purple cloak and staff, she is one of the more iconic character designs from that period). The film was initially developed by “The Incredibles“/”Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” director Brad Bird back in 2009. A year later, Tim Burton was loosely attached to direct after the success of his similar “Alice in Wonderland” (both “Alice in Wonderland” and “Maleficent” were written by “The Lion King” co-writer Linda Woolverton). When Burton passed, it was seen as a possible directing vehicle for David Yates, who had helmed the last few ‘Harry Potter’ films, before Disney decided on a relative unknown – “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” production designer Robert Stromberg.
Jolie described the project to EW as, “Not anti-princess, but it’s the first time they’re looking at this epic woman.” When asked about seeing the “Sleeping Beauty” story from the villain’s perspective, Jolie said, “In general, it’s a very good message to say, ‘Let’s look at something from the other side.'” She added: “But then also, what our challenge will be — and the script writer [Linda Woolverton] has already cracked it — is not to simplify it, not to just reverse the story but tell a bigger story that doesn’t point the finger [at Princess Aurora, a part which “Super 8” star Elle Fanning is in talks for] either. It doesn’t flip it.”
She described the character as, “A woman who is capable of being many things, and just because she protects herself and is aggressive, it doesn’t mean she can’t have other [warmer] qualities” and as “actually a great person.” Still, Jolie was quick to point out, “But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect.”
One thing we do wonder about is how closely Jolie’s Maleficent will resemble her animated alter ego. The character has appeared in several episodes of ABC’s smash hit fairy-tales-in-real-life series “Once Upon a Time” (in part, it seems, to stoke the synergistic fires until “Maleficent” big screen debut). That version has the staff and is draped in shades of purple but isn’t nearly as striking as we’re sure Jolie’s will end up being.
Jolie says her look is still in flux but one thing is for sure: “We’re still figuring out the look. We’re experimenting with different things,” Jolie told EW. “But the horns are the horns — you can’t deny them. You have to have horns.” “Maleficent” hasn’t yet been given a release date, but five will get you ten that the film follows in the path of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” “John Carter” and next year’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” with a March 2014 slot.