‘Maleficent’ Fun Facts and Official Character Descriptions (Minor Spoilers)

'Maleficent' Teaser PosterWalt Disney Studios has provided us with official character bios and ‘fun facts’ for its upcoming film Maleficent (May 30, 2014), which you can find  below.

Maleficent explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic Sleeping Beauty and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

MALEFICENT (Angelina Jolie)
Maleficent benevolently protects her home — the forest kingdom over which she presides — and all the creatures that dwell there, but a harsh betrayal turns Maleficent’s pure heart stone cold. Driven by relentless revenge and a fierce passion to protect her land from invaders, the now vindictive and ruthless Maleficent places an irrevocable curse on the human king’s newborn baby, Aurora.

STEFAN (Sharlto Copley)
Stefan is a childhood friend of Maleficent’s who comes from the human kingdom outside of the forest Maleficent calls home. Over time Stefan becomes consumed with his ambition to be King and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

DIAVAL (Sam Riley)
Diaval is Maleficent’s loyal servant, who, on her command, can take on different forms to suit her purposes. He serves as Maleficent’s conscience and has strong beliefs, which he is not afraid to act upon.

AURORA (Elle Fanning)
Princess Aurora is a curious and thoughtful child who develops a bond with nature that rivals only Maleficent’s. But as she grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy.

THE FLOWER PIXIES
The three inept Flower Pixies are charged with caring for Aurora until her sixteenth birthday: KNOTGRASS (Imelda Staunton) is a tangled knot of bad humor, bossy and a superior to the other two Pixies; FLITTLE (Lesley Manville) is a blue Flower Pixie. She always has butterflies flying around her head; THISTLEWIT (Juno Temple), the youngest of the Pixies, is always giddy, playful and childlike.

KING HENRY (Kenneth Cranham)
Before the end of his reign, conniving King Henry is determined to add the forest kingdom that Maleficent protects to his conquests at any cost in order to reap the benefits of the treasures it contains.

PRINCESS LEILA (Hannah New)
King Henry’s daughter Princess Leila loyally performs her duty as princess by marrying Stefan and bearing his daughter, Aurora.

PRINCE PHILLIP (Brenton Thwaites)
Handsome Prince Phillip happens upon teenage Aurora as he is traveling to the castle to meet the king. He promises that they will soon meet again — it is love at first sight.

FUN FACTS

  • Maleficent has classic appeal that derives from the Sleeping Beauty fable, which evolved — under different titles — over approximately 400 years. The early written origins of the story can be traced from the French novel Perceforest (author unknown) written in 1527.
  • In 1697, ‘The Beauty Asleep in the Woods’ was published by Charles Perrault in his book, The Tales of Mother Goose. He changed the villainess from a Queen to a wicked fairy and this version is the closest one to Disney’s interpretation. Perrault also introduced the element of a handsome Prince whose kiss could break the spell.
  • The character Maleficent was a Disney creation first introduced in their 1959 animated feature Sleeping Beauty, which took 10 years to make and cost $6 million. It was the most expensive movie the studio had made to that point.
  • Maleficent began production on June 11, 2012, at England’s famed Pinewood Studios where most of the filming took place. It took five months of shooting on six sound stages and thousands of yards of back lot and paddock area to complete principal photography.
  • The production had a number of extraordinary physical sets. Production designers Gary Freeman and Dylan Cole and set decorator Lee Sandales worked with director Robert Stromberg to create interior and exterior backdrops worthy of epic filmmaking. There were approximately 40 built sets, from a 12-foot square room to the 5,000 square foot Great Hall.
  • The castle was a physical realization, both interior and exterior, of the castle in the 1959 animated film. It is grand in scale with marble floors and 16th century materials and finishes and is furnished with antiquities. It took 14 weeks to build, employing some 250 construction workers and an art department of about 20 people.
  • Seven-time Academy Award-winner Rick Baker heads the special effects makeup team, which was responsible for Angelina Jolie’s horns and cheeks prosthetics as well as all the other special character makeup.
  • Baker and his team sculpted three different sets of horns around the look of the original animated Maleficent. The horns are made of urethane casting resin, which is lightweight and durable. In order to have all of Angelina Jolie’s prosthetics conform to the angles of her face, the team made a life cast of her head and formed rubber cheekbones and ears along those contours. For star Angelina Jolie, the entire application process for all the prosthetics took about four hours every morning.
  • The challenges for costume designer Anna B. Sheppard were unprecedented in her distinguished career. In addition to alternating her designs between fairy and human worlds, there were numerous categories within those worlds that had to be created. Overall, she and her team created more than 2000 costumes by hand.
  • Prop master David Balfour reproduced dozens of spinning wheels for a scene in the film in which the king bans all spinning wheels in the kingdom. The spinning wheel is the only consistent plot element in the fable of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ from the earliest versions to the most modern. Spinning needles or splinters of spun flax have been the cause of spell-induced sleep for every princess in the ‘Sleeping’ Beauty lineage.
  • Sam Riley, who plays the shape-shifting Diaval, met with movement experts who helped him study the movements of ravens. Riley admits that those hours of training were some of the most embarrassing he had ever spent preparing for a film, especially running around a huge room flapping his arms and making cawing noises. With contact lenses to make his eyes black and feathers in his hair, even the human form of Diaval has an avian element.
  • The thatched cottage that became Aurora’s childhood home was built on the back lot of Pinewood Studios in London. The cottage features a timber frame and an authentic thatched roof that was hand-done by traditional thatchers. There are only approximately 1,000 full-time thatchers at work in the UK but thatched roofs are becoming popular again because of the public’s renewed interest in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials.
  • Angelina Jolie worked with milliners to design the headdresses she wears in the film to cover her horns. There are six different head coverings, including the python skin summer look and the christening look with its Napa leather covered horns and stingray skin accents.
  • Performance capture was used for the three Pixies (Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville) when they were in their original 21″ tall size in order to capture all the talented actresses’ nuances. The visual effects team used 150 markers on each of their faces to track their facial expressions into computer-generated characters. These fun characters were slightly caricatured in their 21″ size, with larger heads, bigger eyes and their natural figures exaggerated so that they are not just a normal person shrunk down to 21″ tall.

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