Angelina Jolie takes the vile out of villain in 'Maleficent'

Wed May 28, 2014 8:48am EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Angelina Jolie, in taking her first major acting role in years, wanted something "crazy and silly" to counter the more serious parts of her life and her idea of fun was to play a baddie who looks pretty darn scary to children.

Maleficent is a villain, and one of Disney's most popular since she appeared as the wicked fairy in the 1959 animated feature "Sleeping Beauty," in which she casts an evil spell on the princess.

The modern reimagining of that fairytale in "Maleficent" allows Jolie to show the hurt that sparked her character's evil side and how she overcomes it. It may be dark at times - "the darkest Disney will go" says Jolie - but kids and adults will get laughs from its wicked humor, an uplifting tale of justice and a new cinematic heroine with a gothic twist.

"There are people today, especially kids, that have been bullied and felt like they are outsiders or felt different," said Jolie of her character, who sports black horns and sharp cheekbones. "And I loved that this goes in that direction."

So apparently did her six kids, who encouraged her to take the role and helped her find her memorable Maleficent voice. "My children have seen it and it really makes them happy," she said.

The film, a big Walt Disney Co production that cost $200 million, opens Friday in U.S. theaters and the studio has launched an ambitious marketing campaign that includes Maleficent lines of MAC Cosmetics and clothing and shoes by designer Stella McCartney.

The audience sweet spot is girls age 10 and up, an older group than the younger children who swooned for the empowering princesses in the Disney's animated blockbuster "Frozen," according to Phil Contrino, chief analyst at

Riding on the momentum of "Frozen," "Maleficent" should bring in $64 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, Contrino said, and Jolie's global appeal hints at big sales overseas.   Continued...

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in this undated handout photo on the set of the movie Maleficent. REUTERS/Disney Enterprises/Keith Hampshere