Hollywood is full of beautiful people. I’ve been fortunate in the past few years to interview some amazing actors and listen as they talk about their upcoming films. Occasionally, actors share a little about their life in a more personal manner. It’s always special when this happens. It’s very rare, and even more special when you have someone that is more beautiful on the inside than out, that offers words that make you want to be a better person, be the person you get to interview. In this case it just so happens to be Angelina Jolie.
Let me set the scene. I am in a room, mind you it’s pretty small, maybe 20-25 feet deep – and there’s a table at the front of the room with a chair. I was VERY lucky to be front and center, with maybe 3 feet between myself and the interview table. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for this interview, I mean, I figured she’d be professional and do her job…never did I expect to find her so kind. I hope I bring a little of just how wonderful she is in this really special interview. It’s a long post for me, however, I wanted to make sure to give it all to you. I feel after her being so wonderful to the group of bloggers, it’s the least I could do for her.
Angelina Jolie: Talks Maleficent, Family, and Being a Better Person
You can feel the mixture of nerves and excitement as we await her arrival. I don’t think that there was one person in the room that ever thought all their hard work would bring them to a chance to interview Angelina. She’s dressed in a pretty little black dress. She looks flawless. And she is quick to help suck any nerves out of the room. With a huge smile on her face that is so big you see it in her eyes, she begins our time together.
Angelina Jolie: Oh, this is so fun. I was so curious what this group of “Mommy Bloggers” was. This is fantastic!
It’s like instantly the room got lighter, in both ways. The anxiety lifted and her smile just made it brighter.
Q: I believe that everything in life prepares you for this moment. So when I look at your career, you’ve done all kinds of movies. What brought you to this moment with a family Disney movie?
Ah, well I read this script and I just, I was so moved by it. And have you seen… You’ve seen the film?
Yes, we all got to screen the film the night before. There’s a review to come on this, but it’s really fantastic. Staying true to the original, but with a twist that is one that is surprisingly wonderful, considering we are talking about Maleficent, one of the most evil villains in the Disney world.
So you know.
Yes, we know. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
So we can’t say why, but we all know very well why. And, I was moved by it, as a mother. But I was also really moved by it because I thought of myself as a little girl, and I thought of all the kids I know, and I just think of that feeling different, feeling outside, and also as a woman, feeling abused and this ideal if you’ve ever been abused and then you kind of as a woman you put this wall up. And you become darker and you’re not able to be this soft person that you were born to be. And then what could possibly ever bring you back? And the thing that brings her back is very much the thing that brought me back. And so, I was very, very connected to it.
Whew, right? Big words. It’s no secret that Angelina and her partner of 9 years, Brad Pitt have six children. She made it very clear in other interviews as well as the little that we do see of her private life, that her kids are the most important thing in her world. And looking at her life prior to kids, I think it’s safe to say as a long time fan of her work, that she has changed. Appearing to become this soft person she was born to be.
Q: How much of the Maleficent story did you know before you read the script?
I didn’t really know anything. When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by her. I didn’t really identify with the princesses, (we all laugh). Princesses have gotten a little more modern. It’s like a little kid seeing Marlene Dietrich for the first time. It was like seeing this elegant, powerful woman who seemed to be having a great time. And just her voice. So I was a bit fascinated by her.
And then there was a rumor that the movie was going to be made, I got a call from my brother. And he was like, “Ang, you’ve got to, you’ve got to make a call to Disney, you got to try to get in on this”. So I was very happy when I got the call. So just the idea of a Disney movie, having children and just being a big kid myself, and wanting to do a little bit of that was fun. But I really didn’t know (how), I joked with Linda (Woolverton – screenplay writer of the film), I said, how could you possibly make a story where people have any connection to, or empathy for, somebody that curses a baby? It’s just not going to be impossible. And, ah, and I think she did an extraordinary job.
Q: So how long did it take you to get ready for filming with the hair and makeup?
Ah, I think it was about two and a half hours at the end of the day. Which wasn’t as bad, we had a really great team. They’d work together, Tommy (Lilley) and Arjen (Tuiten) did it all at once. And so no, it wasn’t too bad.
Q: Was the headpiece heavy?
They were so great, they were so sweet in that they worked so hard to make it not heavy. My hair was in these really funny little buns in order to get the head piece (to stay). My hair was used as kind as the thing that held the horns on. They made it very lightweight. And then they also had detachable horns. Partially for weight, and also because they kept knocking myself out if I’d go out the door. (we all laugh) because I was about seven and a half foot high, and I had contacts on and sometimes I couldn’t (see). So the first few days, I was just a complete mess. And so they made them so I could snap them (on and off).
Q: What did you think the first time you saw yourself in full makeup and costume?
She answers this question with a huge grin.
I was really happy. I was. I was really happy because we went through a few stages where, in trying to find her, we had a few (costumes) that weren’t so great, you know? We went through a period where we thought, okay, well she’s got wings, so she’s part bird fairy, maybe she had feather hair. So we went kind of in many, many different directions. And then at the end of the day, we kind of said, it has to be that, because it is a real film and she has real scenes and emotional scenes, it can’t be so much makeup that you’re starring at some pasted makeup. The soul has to come through. So it had to be enough to be a creature, (yet) enough to be kind of worldly, but still be able to have very serious scenes. I think they did an amazing job.
With this look comes a voice. She was almost excited to share how she came to the voice with the help of her kids.
Q: How fun is it playing a villain in a Disney movie? How did you find your voice that you use for this film? Did you just stand in front of a mirror practicing?
No, my kids helped me find it. I always tell stories, which I’m sure we all do. Well all of us have a few voices. I tell them stories and I was giving them baths and I was doing this thing where a few nights in a row I would tell them stories in the bath and I was trying out voices. A few they’d say, please stop (she laughs as she thinks back). And then you know, sometimes, they’d listen and they’d kind of be more engaged. And I kept trying and trying and trying. And then I did “that” voice and they couldn’t stop laughing. And so I kept doing it more, and more, and more, and more, and more. They still make me do it. I had to do it the other night for bedtime. And for the look and everything, I would kind of run it by them, and if it made them happy, or made them smile, or they were interested in it, you know, then it was right.
Angelina is known for her humanitarian efforts. She is very active in world issues, particularly those that are pertaining to women and children. Having the resources that she does, it isn’t as difficult for her to make an impact and be involved. But what can we do to make a difference in our own communities having limited resources? She passionately answered this and truly shows that making a difference in this world is very important to her.
Angelina Jolie: Well first of all with every mom, the most important thing we do is we raise our children with love and compassion to become great people and thoughtful of others. That’s the most important thing. If everybody did just that, we’d have a very different world. And encourage our children’s education. Help them to be conscious of the world around them. I think mothers have the most powerful role. There was even examples of Taliban fighters who stopped because their mothers stopped them. Because the mothers became educated. They couldn’t stop the men, but they, educate the mothers and the mothers got them back home. So being a mother is a powerful thing. Especially with being online, all of of us can make a difference.
To be reminded that being a mother is such an important role in our children’s lives, beyond just the everyday running around. She is so passionate about this, that you can’t help to join in her urge to be involved.
There is so much to connect to and there is so much that can be done. And it is, as you see now with the situation with the Nigerian girls, that’s not government, that’s the masses speaking out, pushing for government change. And so it sometimes doesn’t feel like every voice counts, but it really does.
There’s a conference in June I’d love you to be aware of that I’m doing, the Foreign Secretary of England, June tenth to the thirteenth. It is called PSBI, it’s the largest summit ever to end sexual violence in conflict. It’s in England, it’s open to the public, but it’s in England. We’ve realized that it’s not just governments, and it’s not just NGO’s, everybody has to come together. So NATO will be there, peace keepers will be there, governments will be there, and it’s open to the public, and NGO’s, and victims, and doctors will be there. So everybody together will spend four days. I think that’s what these things take, it takes all of us very tightly working together.
Adding to the cast, Angelina has Viv, her now 5 year old daughter in Maleficent playing a young Aurora. Her face goes from serious, after speaking of such important world issues, to softening and even having a twinkle in her eye as she speaks of having her in the film. Her character on screen is very grand, but it’s done very well, not to be too frightening for kids, but imagine standing over seven feet tall in costume, any child, young or even a bit older could get frightened.
It was a tough choice to do it. I mean, I think everybody knows the reason why (we had a hard time casting the role) was really scaring other kids. But it’s not frightening for children. I keep saying that, but I did scare (the kids coming on the set). You know, because in person, (I had to remember) they are just little kids, I kept thinking I was a Disney character and I’d want to talk to them. And they’d get mad and essentially leave. So we realized, what four or five year old little girl is not (going to get scared), where can I be really mean to and say things like,” I don’t like children”? We realized it was probably Viv. It took us a while to make sure that that was an okay thing to do. But at the end of the day, I just wanted to play with her. And it was really fun.
It took the teamwork of she and Brad to get Viv to do a scene where she’s chasing a butterfly. She was laughing and very animated as she shares this story of them on the set.
Even though the first day she had to catch the butterfly and she didn’t (want to cooperate), you know, like any four year old, she just decided she didn’t want to. So there’s some really, really funny outtakes of Brad and I… I’ve actually got the stick with the blue ball, that’s supposed to be the butterfly and I’m kind of running in front of her. And Brad’s off the edge of the cliff, kind of trying to like dance and make her jump into his arms. And she made us work all for that. It was the hardest work. And the people at Disney did say it was the funniest dailies that they’d ever seen. And it exists somewhere, I haven’t seen them, I should get them. But it was lovely to do it.
Now doing a family film we wondered if this would now make it that she would want to do more. With an upcoming film she is directing that is a story that is very dear to her heart, Unbroken is due to come out Christmas time this year. This is a story of an incredible man that that’s life story truly changed her. She is working on making that film be rated for the family to see.
Well on Unboken, it’s a heavier movie, but it is, we’re aiming for PG-13. And I think it’s very important that it’s for young people, because there is so much out there that is just so aggressive and all that stuff, that there can (still) be entertainment and I’m not against (that). But I did want to make on Unbroken, because I wanted to do something that I felt was inspiring and that young people would be inspired by. My boys saw it for the first time the other day and I watched them sit through the whole movie and I watched their heads to see if they’d move. And they didn’t, and they asked me so many interesting questions about faith, and life, and death, and war. I think it’s really very important how we can talk to our kids about real life issues, real stories, and (give them) real film about something that makes them walk away from it feeling like there’s a chance and that the spirit inside of them can rise up against anything. And they can feel good about that, and no matter how they start, they can rise. And so that’s the message behind that one. But for Disney characters, we’ll see, we’ll see if I get cast again. I did, I did like my horns, so maybe they’ll give, maybe I’ll get another shot at it.
She doesn’t take for granted for a second that she has the means to make juggling her life as a mom, actress and humanitarian. She knows where she came from, and spoke from the heart telling us she knows how lucky she is to have those means.
You all know as moms, I’m at a very lucky position. I have a supportive partner and he and I are able to take turns working often. And when you make a film, it doesn’t take all year around. When I direct it does, but I get to decide when I leave in the morning and when I come home at night, and I can edit in my bedroom, and would be there in case there’s an emergency with the children. So I have a very rare luxury with my job to be able to have my kids with me on set every day and home school. Other mothers have it much harder than I do, and don’t have the means to have the assistance I do. I don’t feel like I by any means do anything exceptional. My mom was a single mom and she had a lot of difficulties. She gave up her dreams to like to make sure she could take me to my auditions and support me. And nobody acknowledged her for what she did, you know, so that was hard. But mine’s not too bad at all. I can’t complain.
Q: What did your kids think the first time they saw you in full costume?
Well, I realized it was a bad idea – it was bad parenting on my part that I should have brought them in early and have them watch me get in my makeup. But I thought it would be really fun to surprise them. And they came on the set and some of them were fine, they just got a little, you know, quiet. And Pax, ran away from me. And I made the mistake of thinking he was playing a game and I chased after him. And then realized he was upset. And so, he had to come in the makeup trailer and watch me take everything off. Um, it was interesting because we actually wondered about Maleficent, and we talked with Disney, like why is she considered the most evil? I mean, obviously what she does, but what is it about children that they see her? I think that’s what happened to my children. It was that because it’s a woman, and an older woman, its mom. And to my kids it was that a woman that should be like nurturing, the figure that should be nurturing was now the figure that was slightly terrifying. And on top for my kids, the mom had disappeared and they were really wanting to know where mom went. But I do think that’s actually why she’s particularly disturbing for children. And why it maybe children who will embrace her, because it does feel that you should be safe with an older woman, you know.
Q: Besides seeing you on the set, have they seen any of the finished movie yet?
They haven’t. Not the finished. They saw an early cut which had a lot of really bad effects. They were very sweet about it. They’re going to see it for the first time when its 3-D. But they saw Vivienne’s scene and the other kids think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. Because she is at home my little shadow and I can never get her to like give me space. So it was very funny that no matter, even at a monster I couldn’t quite get her (away from me). So they think it’s funny.
There’s so many reasons this is hands down my favorite interview. She was simply more than I could have wanted her to be. She is truly more beautiful in person, but not because of her outer beauty, but because she is so kind. She exudes a sense of peace in herself and she seemed so relaxed and even interested in us, and what we do. It seems that she understood us moms and the influence we have almost more than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. She inspired me. I am grateful that I had this opportunity to sit in front of her, but I am more grateful for the things I’ve taken away from this interview even more. I think, the fact that the movie has some deeper meaning and she relates to this give Maleficent a bigger reason to watch and fall in love with a story, of someone that isn’t understood, yet with the right kind of love, wherever it may come from, can bring out that “soft person that you were born to be”.
MALEFICENT is rated PG and releases in theaters everywhere on May 30th!
*I was invited by Disney on a press trip to LA to screen Maleficent, as well as interview the various people connected to the film. All opinions are my own. Images credits go to Disney, unless otherwise noted.
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