Last week while being in LA I saw Maleficent and interviewed the cast. Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s scariest villain and it ends up being an amazing story told by the amazing cast, Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley and Sam Riley. It was so good. Elle Fanning plays Aura and we had time to sit down with her and interview her. I was lucky enough that this was my second encounter with the beautiful young lady. She was at Disney Social Media Moms on her 16th birthday.
Q : What’s it like taking on the role of a Disney princess?
EF : It was my dream. Like, my, whenever, when anyone asks you like what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was little, I would say, "A Disney princess," ’cause that’s the ultimate goal in life, I think for any young, girl. And especially Sleeping Beauty. She was always my favorite one ’cause I felt like I looked — you know, when you’re little you see which ones you look like the most and she was the one that I looked like the most. So I would go to Disney store and I would buy her clothes and her shoes and, um, so to get to play this is, it’s really, like, the dream.
Q : Did you feel any pressure living up to Sleepy Beauty’s standards?
EF : Yeah, ’cause, I mean, obviously I watched the animated movie so many times and it’s like you wanna do it justice because I feel like that Sleeping Beauty — they’ve already done it so perfectly, you know. I ha- I mean, I have to live up to that. So I did watch the animated film right before I started filming just because I thought it was in, she has a certain physicality ’cause she’s drawn, you know, drawn a certain way. And, and she holds her hands in this, you know, with these little gestures and her posture and her feet.
So I tried to bring that charm to the role. But also there is, in ours there is a little more to her ’cause she’s not just a delicate princess, you know. She, she has some strength and she actually shows real emotion. She gets sad and feels betrayal and, ’cause a lot of secrets are hidden from her. So, it was nice in ours that we could make her more human than just, you know, just the cartoon.
Q : I felt like she was so very innocent to the point of being naïve. How different is the character from Elle?
EF : Right. Well she is that way ’cause she’s been trapped, you know, she’s in this little cottage, you know. She doesn’t know outside the world. ….raised by fairies. And definitely very naïve in that way, so. Everything she’s learned she’s kind of had to learn on her own and I guess for me, I’m still as happy and as curious as she is, so I like to soak up a lot of information, so we’re very similar in that way. But I guess, it is exaggerated as a fairy tale. So her naïve-ness is to the point of so much. Whereas I don’t think any child can be that sheltered like she was in our time. So I guess I’m different in that way from her.
Q : I think you made her very believable and you kept us very attached to her.
EF : Thank you. I, I tried to do that ’cause I know, it could get boring if it’s oh, that girl is just the one who’s happy and doesn’t know anything, you know? I thought that to bring a sense to her that she’s always kind of desperate to learn and she’s trying to figure things out, that’d be nice. And to show that she hasn’t been taught to be scared yet. She doesn’t know that she’s to be scared of things that look different.
When she does see Maleficent, she’s not scared of her, which is very strange for Maleficent ’cause normally everyone’s so terrified of me, but this little girl’s not. Which, um, I think at that what, that’s what makes them have this bond that they do.
Q : What was your favorite scene to shoot?
EF : To shoot? Mine was when I pricked my finger on the spindle ’cause it’s such an iconic — I mean, when I think about the original, that’s the scene I think of. So to film that scene, it was the very last day of filming that we did. Everything was building its way up to that monumental moment and I felt — I, I, I wanted to do it right, you know, everything has to be a certain way. ‘Cause that scene impacted me a lot when I was little.
It scared me more than Maleficent did because of the way the lights were and it looked like Aurora was morphing into Maleficent, like, with that green and purple light. So I was like, "We have to have those lights." So they changed them they, made it more of a green hue and then I had the trance and, um, so I think it turned out, what I saw it turned out good, right? It could’ve changed since then.
Q : Can you tell us about your audition process and where you were when you found out you got the part?
EF : Yeah, it’s funny ’cause it all happened really fast. Um, a lot faster than it, than those things normally do. I heard there was gonna be a Maleficent movie which you know, it’s it’s from the villains point of view. There has to be an Aurora in there. So I was like, oh my gosh, I hope I get to be that. And they asked me to come in, the director Rob, for a meeting. So I met with Rob and Linda, and Linda was the writer. She wrote Beauty and the Beast, so I was excited to meet who wrote Beauty and the Beast too.
So I went and had a meeting with them and we, we just talked and they, I think they just wanted to get a sense of me, kind of what I was like. And, um, and they didn’t describe much of the story ’cause they kind of already decided that they were gonna give me the part. They told me in there that I got it. And I, then they handed over the script. Handing over the script was like the coronation of everything. And, um, yeah, I was, I, I read the script in the car and, like, kind of got, like, you know, like, motion sickness, like, reading it while driving home. But I was like, I did not stop. I just kept going. I was so excited.
Q : Was it hard for you, without being able to see everything that was going on because of the special effects, to get where you needed to be in that moment?
EF : I know! It was a lot, it was more than I’d ever done before. You’re on a set so there is a stage and things are built on it, but everything basically surrounding you, all the little fairies, I mean, those are just tennis balls or little lights. And there’s like green and blue screens that you’re basically standing in, so you really have to imagine everything. It also can get a little technical too, but then you don’t want your performance to be prohibited by the technicality of it.
You want to make sure that you’re, you know, still playing your character but, you still have to be aware of the little, you know, the hand that you’re holding, but you’re not holding a hand, it’s air. So you have to make sure how would I hold it if it was there? We also had to do all this scanning of your so what we would do, like, whenever you had a hair change or a wardrobe change, you stand on this turntable and stand completely still and they turn you inch by inch and scan your body.
Then that makes, like, a virtual you into a computer and then they can take that virtual you and put you onscreen. So when I did all the floating and stuff, a lot of that was, they manipulated, you know, I don’t know how it works but they did it.
Q : Do you feel bummed out that you got a princess role with no singing?
EF : I know! I was thinking about that! I was like, I’m surely gonna get to sing the song, you know? I think that it just, for this one it just didn’t happen. Lana Del Rey, she sings that song in our trailer, and it’s so perfect I can’t think of — I mean it’s, ’cause our, our movie’s more gothic, you know? So it’s nice to have her haunting voice, you know, a different take on it than just the original one.
See Maleficent in Theaters on Friday May 30th.