10 Surprising Facts about Maleficent: An Interview with Don Hahn

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Walt Disney Residence - Los Felíz LA

Disclosure

Last September, I had the rare opportunity to visit the former Disney estate in Los Felíz near Los Angeles. It was the house where Disney’s family lived from 1932 to 1950, and where Disney created projects like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Fantasia. It was in this house where Disney started conceptualizing the Maleficent character as well. So it felt like things had come full circle to be there to talk about Maleficent, and to see Angelina Jolie’s and Elle Fanning’s costumes from the film in this special place.

John Hahn, Maleficent, Executive Producer

Don Hahn, who has also worked on movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Frankenweenie, and a number of Disneynature documentaries, among others, is the executive producer of Maleficent. We got the chance to have a chat with him right before our tour of the residence and we learned some interesting facts about the film. Here they are:

  • Once they had all the elements together to start, they had just four months to film the movie.
  • Robert Stromberg, who has been the creative mind behind the worlds of James Cameron’s Avatar and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, created the world of Maleficent.

The world of Maleficent

  • Angelina Jolie shot her scenes in just 85 days.
  • It took one and a half years to add the special effects and pull all the pieces together.

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent

  • Filming had its challenges. The exterior battle scenes were filmed right between Pinewood Studios and the motorway in England. So if you were to turn the camera while the battle scenes were happening, you’d see a motorway behind.

Maleficent scene - Battle

  • Angelina was the only option for Maleficent, they didn’t consider any other actresses.
  • Vivienne, Angelina’s daughter, became part of the movie out of necessity. Other girls were too afraid of her (Angelina) when they saw her in her big costume as Maleficent, and they would either run away or do nothing. Vivienne was very natural and the scene is very genuine and nurturing.

Angelina Jolie and Vivienne Jolie-Pit in Maleficent

  • What was interesting about making this movie was explaining that Maleficent couldn’t just be bad. You had to show that there was some reason why she got wounded and her wings were clipped, and what that meant to her, and how horrific an experience that was.
  • Since the wings were fake, Angelina had a little green square on her back which held a battery and two little antennae with bright orange spots on the end. This helped the guys at visual effects to know the symmetry of her back.

Maleficent wings

  • Angelina has very little dialogue for her character. She told him, when she was preparing, that her acting coach was having her reach into soil and feel it because she’s part of the fairy world and that’s where the fairies come from.

Fairies in Maleficent

Finally I end without showing you a couple of the amazing costumes Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning used during the movie, here they are:

Maleficent Hairpiece detailsAurora's outfit in Maleficent

Maleficent is available on Blu-ray, DVD, digital and on the app Disney Movies Anywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is your opportunity to own it. Here is a couple of videos from the special features. Enjoy! (If you are reading this post in an email and can’t see the videos, just click on the title of this post at the top of your email to go to the blog to see them, thanks.)

Enjoy!

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