By Zach Johnson
Well, well… imagine our delight when we received an invitation to attend the world premiere of The Walt Disney Studios’ latest live-action adventure film, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Hosted at the famed El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, thousands of fans lined Hollywood Blvd. to get a glimpse of Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Pfeiffer. A few famous fans even hoped to meet the film’s titular antihero as she walked the red carpet, with Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Julia Lester, Olivia Rodrigo, and Sofia Wylie—stars of the upcoming Disney+ Original Series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series—unanimous in their reason for seeing the movie: “Angelina Jolie!”
In addition to actors Chiwetel Ejiofor (Conall), Sam Riley (Diaval), Harris Dickinson (Prince Philip), Ed Skrein (Borra), Jenn Murray (Gerda), and Judith Shekoni (Shrike), the premiere brought out director Joachim Rønning; co-screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster; producers Duncan Henderson and Joe Roth; production designer Patrick Tatopoulos; costume designer Ellen Mirojnick; composer Geoff Zanelli; and singer Bebe Rexha, whose original song “You Can’t Stop the Girl” appears on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Speaking to D23 on the carpet, Jolie—who pulled double duty as a producer—explained that getting back into character came fairly easily. “It’s impossible not to feel powerful with giant wings and being eight-feet tall with horns!” Jolie said. “You just have to go with it and have fun, and it allows you to be free.”
In fact, every actor relied on Mirojnick’s designs to help them fully realize their characters. “With this film, you had to move like the wind; there was no dawdling! It was quite a task,” recalled Mirojnick, praising her “great” team. “You have three huge female characters, the supporting cast, the Dark Fey… There are so many different characters!”
The addition of actors such as Ejiofor and Pfeiffer to the cast only added to the buzz surrounding the sequel. “Michelle Pfeiffer is an incredible actress. She’s just amazing,” Murray raved. “I grew up watching her onscreen, and she is so graceful and intelligent.”
And as Riley told D23, it was a thrill to both expand upon his role and to reconnect with his co-stars. “It was like it was only yesterday,” Riley said. “As soon as I put the leather trousers on, the six years [between filming Maleficent and its sequel] vanished.” Fanning was similarly keen to show how Aurora has grown since audiences last saw her. “Aurora is someone who [radiates] love and kindness and acceptance. That’s just who she is,” she said. “She is feminine, and there’s strength in femininity and softness.”
Although she faces some uncomfortable truths in the sequel, Maleficent is “having fun,” Jolie assured D23. “If you’re having fun and you’re yourself—your true self—you shine.”
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opens in theaters nationwide October 18, 2019.