LOS ANGELES — Royals don't usually invite evil fairies to the castle for dinner. But in "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," Queen Ingrith and King John think it's a good idea.
"It was magnificent the first time I saw her in person. And it was also the first time my character meets her in person. Imagine that walking into your dining room. I hadn't seen her fully until that moment," says Michelle Pfeiffer who plays Queen Ingrith.
Angelina Jolie returns for the Disney sequel at Maleficent. "I love the costume and I love wearing it. And I love the horns and the cape." She calls the character her alter-ego. "You look at somebody dressed in that and you know you share the same spirit of a bit of wild, abandon, a bit of wickedness. We're like a tribe."
We uncovered a bit of an on-set secret during interviews at The Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. With all the wings and talons and horns, the prop department came up with a safety solution for Maleficent's horns. "They worked out a way of doing Angie's that they made hers magnetic. So they could pop off yeah. Because on the first one, she was like walking into doors and the whole thing would fall backward," says Sam Riley, who plays a crow named Diaval.
And those wings! Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) says she had to watch her step. "The wings are CG-ed. So you have to imagine the wings are there. A lotta times I would be standing too close to her. So they're like, 'Oh move over. The wings are gonna be put in there.'"
But Riley says much of the set is not virtual, like The Moors, the forest kingdom where the fairies reside. "There was new grass every day. Flowers. Running water." Harris Dickinson is Prince Phillip. He says set-builders make acting in the space much more dynamic. "They built a town as well. I remember riding in on my horse seeing this town they created. So you don't have to go too far you know?"
Fanning tells us she feels the weight of living up to many-a-young girl's princess dreams. "I know that was me growing up. I was that girl. I dressed up as all the princesses." As for her prince, the film is a dream come true for him too. "I got to do a lot of cool things on this that my 10-year-old self would've been like yaaaah!"
Pfeiffer's queen is calculating, conniving and intense. We ask if her real-life kids would recognize some of the looks she uses in the film. "I hope not. Maybe one or two times. I'm sure a few people in my life have seen those looks. But maybe not my kids. I hope not."
Jolie says this version delves into uncharted territory. "Who exactly is Maleficent? And where did she come from. And now we meet her kind. It was a very cool day on set the first time I came in, and I wasn't the only one with horns." Good and evil are turned on their collective ears (and horns), perhaps inviting the viewer to switch allegiance to a so-called villain.
As Maleficent opines as she approaches the kingdom of Ulstead for dinner, "Humans are hilarious." And, she later posits, maybe scarier than winged, taloned, horned creatures with pointy teeth and magical powers.
"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" opens Friday, Oct. 18 and is rated PG.