Angelina Jolie returns in "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," in theaters Friday. Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- In Maleficent, Disney made the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty the heroine of her own story. In the sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, she struggles with insecurities in her new role as a surrogate mother.
Angelina Jolie is back in the lead role.
In the first film, Maleficent took revenge on Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) because her father stole Maleficent's wings. Jolie said she related to that film's theme, in which Aurora's love redeemed Maleficent in the end.
"Maleficent was harmed in her life and she had lost herself and lost her ability to, I think, be soft or feel loved," Jolie said at a recent press conference in Los Angeles. "The love of a child in my life, being a mother, brought out something in me that completely transformed me."
The first film played out the Sleeping Beauty storyline from Maleficent's perspective. For the sequel, screenwriter Linda Woolverton had to go beyond the animated Disney classic. Jolie had input too, particularly in viewing Aurora as Maleficent's adopted daughter, and introducing other dark faeries like Maleficent.
Woolverton told UPI that Jolie wanted the sequel to address "the relationship between her and Aurora, the complexity of the sort of adoptive child relationship and also the idea of her own kind."
Jolie adopted three of her six children -- Maddox from Cambodia in 2001, Pax from Vietnam in 2003 and Zahara from Ethiopia in 2005. She had Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne with Brad Pitt. Maddox just began his freshman year of college in South Korea.
Maleficent is facing a milestone, too, when Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) proposes to Aurora. Philip's mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), plots to murder Maleficent, but Maleficent escapes to a world of other dark faeries like her living in exile.
"We get pulled apart," Jolie said. "People tell us because we're not the same, you're not family. Because you're not exactly like her, you're not her mother. That certainly strikes a chord with me. I think Maleficent questions whether she's good enough to be a mother and whether she is a mother."
The animated film did not include this backstory about Maleficent's kind, so Woolverton invented the dark faeries, or fae for short.
"What is Maleficent really?" Woolverton asked. "Where did she come from? So it was fun to create an origin story for her or at least fill in blanks a little."
While Maleficent is exploring the dark fae, Aurora still is at the castle, trying to uncover Ingrith's plot. Fanning never wanted to turn Aurora into a warrior action heroine, such as the live-action Snow White and the Huntsman movie or Alice Through the Looking Glass.
"We didn't want Aurora to be in armor and have a sword and she's fighting and that makes her strong," Fanning said at the press conference. "That's not Aurora's true nature and isn't necessarily true."
Fanning does not see herself in those warrior women.
"I was that girl and I was always soft and wanted to be a mom and wanted to get married and [was] very feminine," Fanning said. "There's nothing wrong with that, so we get to show the strength in accepting her femininity. Aurora does it in a pink dress. Very badass."
That Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has room for warrior faeries and feminine princesses appealed to Jolie. She felt a kinship with both.
"We are the pink, beautiful, soft princess, and we are the slightly manic creature that maybe has a very bad temper and many, many other things," Jolie said.
Jolie hopes the message of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will be to encourage people not to change just to fit in.
"Be yourself," she said. "Be your true self. You don't live forever. Say to children, 'No matter how people see you or how they say you should be, be your true nature, whatever that may be. You'll find a home for it, you'll find acceptance because you have to.'"
In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, finding this home comes only after a massive battle between the fae and Ingrith's army. Jolie also wants young viewers to understand that sometimes being true to oneself requires sacrifice.
"We're not here just to exist," Jolie said. "You have to know what you stand for. You have to know what you're willing to fight for and die for. If you live that way, it actually fill you with purpose."
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is in theaters Friday.