Angelina Jolie takes a break from art to entertain in "Maleficent." Credit: Getty Images Angelina Jolie takes a break from art to entertain in "Maleficent."
Credit: Getty Images

For Angelina Jolie, taking on the title role in "Maleficent," which tells the story of "Sleeping Beauty" from the villain's perspective, might have seemed like a no-brainer. But Jolie herself had her doubts. "I was a bit nervous to take her on. I don't have a big theater voice. I don't do things that are kind of comedic. This is such a crazy idea. I'm a fairy? 'How was your day, honey?' 'I was a fairy,'" Jolie remembers telling husband Brad Pitt. "I was so challenged by it. For me as an actress to do something where I'm not taking myself so seriously or doing it for myself or doing it for art — just to remember what it is to play and entertain and try something bold."

But once she had the horns and the headdress and the augmented cheekbones and nose in place, she just went with it. "There's no halfway. If you're going to do it, you can't just kind of do it. You have to go fully into it and enjoy it," she says. "The original was done so well and her voice was so great. The way she was animated was so perfect. If anything, I was worried I'd fail the original. I practiced a lot with my children. When I got them laughing, I figured I was on to something — well, they laughed, they cried."

Angelina Jolie plays the villain of "Sleeping Beauty" in "Maleficent." Credit: Frank Connor Angelina Jolie plays the villain of "Sleeping Beauty" in "Maleficent."
Credit: Frank Connor

 

Speaking of making kids laugh and cry, Jolie isn't concerned that some parents might find the darker elements of "Maleficent" a bit tough for kids to take. "I think what children can handle and what they're interested in is much deeper than what people assume," she says. "I think it's why sometimes we make things too simple for them. A film like this, people ask, 'Is it too dark for children?' It's not. They want to understand things that frighten them. They want to see dark things that happen and how to rise above them. They don't want to be hidden from all things, everything sweetened."

She's even putting her money where her mouth is by letting toddler daughter Vivienne appear in the film — a necessity since other children who weren't already bonded with Jolie were too terrified of her in full makeup and costume. "Actually, one child completely froze and then cried. It was like terror. I felt so bad," Jolie admits. But she's hoping Vivienne's appearance does not set a precedent for her kids becoming actors. "I just want them to like it like this. I want them to do it for fun. If when they get older and they decide to be actors — I would just ask that that's not the center of their lives," she says. "It's an aspect, but I hope they do many other things with their lives and are involved with many other things because I don't think it's a healthy focus as a center of your life."

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick