On the second day of the Disney D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center, Saturday, 10 August 2013, Angelina Jolie admitted that she scared little kids while in costume on the set of Maleficent, with one kid actually saying, "Mommy, please get the mean witch to stop talking to me." She adds that her daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, who played young Aurora, was the only child who was not scared of her.
Angelina Jolie worked very closely with the costume and make-up designers to develop Maleficent's menacing look. Disney executives objected, hoping to take advantage of Jolie's beauty in marketing the film, but the actress insisted that the character maintain the scarier look of the animated incarnation from Sleeping Beauty (1959).
Angelina Jolie based her character's speech and accent in homage of the original Sleeping Beauty (1959)'s Maleficent voice actor Eleanor Audley. Her laughter in the film was also based on the best variation she tried in front of her children and chosen by them.
Angelina Jolie was definitely interested to be in the movie to begin with. She repeatedly stated it was because 1.) she grew up on Disney movies as a child, especially Sleeping Beauty (1959); she was quite fond of the character Maleficent: "Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite," Jolie said. "I was terrified of her, but I was also drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her. She had this elegance and grace, yet she was wonderfully, deliciously cruel," 2.) she wanted to do a movie in which her children can go see her in, as well as the fact that her children really also wanted her to be in the movie, 3.) the beauty, warmth, complexity, and strong intelligence of the script, and 4.) she was very impressed with Maleficent's characterization for this film. In fact, Jolie also served as an executive producer on the film.
All the actors and actresses in Maleficent were partly chosen to be in the movie based on their uncanny resemblances and/or likeness to their respective character counterparts in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959).
In order to give the the fairies a proper feeling of featherweight and agility, the three actresses who performs the fairies, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple, spent three weeks filming motion capture, while being guided by artists of Cirque du Soleil. Lesley Manville called this experience "just fantastic".
Maleficent's crow companion is named Diaval (pronounced similarly to 'devil') and in the Disney cartoon version of Sleeping Beauty (1959), Maleficent's crow companion is named Diablo which means the same. In Irish lore crows are associated with the winged battle goddesses the Morrigan (they sound similar, as well, to Maleficent). In most all other lore crows are associated with death, the dead, and trickery. Thus, they can be "devilish" birds.
For Maleficent's horns, Angelina Jolie wore several headpieces with different weights. One headpiece was so heavy that Angelina would have neck pains right after and therefore was not appropriate for some of her scenes such as her flight scene, battle scene, and horse-riding scene.
Angelina Jolie also said that "having a director (Robert Stromberg) coming from the world of production design really helped pull me into the fairy tale world. The film is beautiful but also has a sexy, dark edge because the story is coming from the point of view of a villain."
On May 12, 2009, it was revealed that Brad Bird was developing a live-action motion picture based on Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959), retold from the point of view of Maleficent with Angelina Jolie starring as Maleficent. In January 2010, it was rumored that Tim Burton was to direct the film. Reports surfaced online in May 2011 stating that Burton had left the project to focus on his other upcoming projects; Disney began to look for a replacement director, with David Yates being cited as a potential candidate due to his experience with the fantasy genre, having directed the final four Harry Potter films. On January 6, 2012, Disney announced that Robert Stromberg would direct the film.
Two of the respective actresses playing Young Maleficent and Young Princess Aurora, Isobelle Molloy and Eleanor Worthington-Cox, both played the title role in the London production of "Matilda: the Musical".
The first collaboration film project with Don Hahn and Linda Woolverton since The Lion King (1994). In fact, Woolverton was chosen to co-write the script not just because of her work on Alice in Wonderland (2010), but also for her work on Disney animated classics Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Lion King, where Hahn and Woolverton got along very well on both of the productions.
Imelda Staunton is the first actress portraying a witch (Dolores Umbridge) in the 'Harry Potter' film series to later play a Disney fairy godmother. Helena Bonham Carter who portrayed Bellatrix Lestrange in the 'Harry Potter' films is the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (2015).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
As a co-producer, Angelina Jolie insisted that the dialogue in Aurora's christening sequence has to be written word-by-word and based exactly from the original animated film Sleeping Beauty (1959) because she feels that it was the main core and setup of the entire film. But the new story does differ from the original scene because Maleficent originally cursed Aurora with death after pricking her finger. Then, the final fairy uses her gift to change the spell from death to slumber. There's also a blink-and-miss cameo (one second shot) of Jolie's two children, Pax Jolie-Pitt and Zahara Jolie-Pitt in that sequence as well.
In this movie the roles of two of the good fairies are switched Thistlewit (Juno Temple) wears green like Fauna but is really the Merryweather equivalent and she is the one who gets interrupted by Maleficent. Flittle (Lesley Manville) wears blue like Merryweather but is really the Fauna equivalent and she blesses Aurora with the gift of eternal happiness. Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton) wears red and is the Flora equivalent and she blesses Aurora with the gift of eternal beauty.
The name "Maleficent" is derived from Latin and literally means "evil doer". There is no reason given in the film for Maleficent, as a young, good fairy, to have such a name. When she does start to become destructive, the name matches.