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IR Exclusive Print Feature: MALIFICENT – MISTRESS OF EVIL [Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment]

The beauty of a film like “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” can be reflected in its idea of perspective versus perception. The way that characters interact shows a dexterity of what is trying to be shown. In talking to Joachim Ronning, the director, it is reflected in ideas of the women involved. The balance of themes like ambition versus contentment, loyalty and betrayal. But ultimately reflected in his words, “Malificent “is a story of a mother and daughter. Malificent, ultimately in certain parts of her character, will never change but that bond is integral to the story. In speaking about scenes, we discuss the dinner scene, which specifically enough does not really employ any green screen so it is the most practically pure where all the characters are present. Very few actors in terms of presence can go up Angelina Jolie, especially in this role as she knows Malificent inside and outwards but Joachim believes that Michelle Pfieffer is one of actors. It is hard he admits to be able to adjust a performance like Angie’s since she knows it so purely. One aspect Joachim says he did try to bring to the film was a sense of humor (which is undeniably in the dinner scene). He relates that they had a week to filmthe dinner scene which itself was actually about 10 pages. There are some many elements of both masks and truth but they are essential to the character.

Another actor involved that Inside Reel spoke to for the release of “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” was Warwick Davis who has had many experiences and knowledge of vast franchises from Star Wars to Harry Potter. He plays Lickspittle, who whittles away in the basement doing the bidding of the Queen played by Michelle Pfieffer. Warwick explains that the backstory of the character is important and integrates into the performance. He doesn’t lean on the make up and prosthetics which he often dons because from his perception, they will always be great so he needs to bring his own gravitas to the point and that always reflects in the emotion and physicality of the character and how he holds himself. With Lickspittle, Warwick says that this creature is not there of his own will. There is no place to sleep and that reflects in his playing with him. In selecting characters, it is inherent of the journey for Warwick. Some are more complex than others. Some are cameos as well but they are reflect him. I ask him about those tells that he sees or reflects. He says the simple neck angling of his Ewok character in Return Of The Jedi at certain points relayed so much and that same element can be seen in the shot he plays with his son in the recent “Rise Of Skywalker”. But the key he reiterates is listening either to your actors or the director. He recounts about George Lucas directing in the prequels where Lucas would say very little but you had to make sure you embodied that and made it work. Another director he relays he was very excited to work with was Gareth Edwards in “Rogue One”. He speaks of that approach where Gareth would let the camera run so an actor got a more organic style to the scenes. He also speaks of Ron Howard fondly. He relates that Ron being an actor really gave him confidence playing Willow as he was only 17 when he took on that role and it really helped guide him in many of his choices. Warwick is rumored to be taking back on the role in a new Disney+ series.

Making big movies like this is always tricky with so many moving parts. Joachim is most proud of his creation in the emotional connection…that specific connection between mother and daughter. As the father of two girls he related to this he said but also to this story of three very strong and different women. With his next directorial effort set to be the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” reboot after directing “Dead Man Tell No Tales”, the future is bright especially since the lead in the new film is rumored to be female. The emotional core and story always has to appeal which Warwick agrees with. But with a director, there is so many moving parts at any point. On the technical side Joachim is proud of the ending battle of the film since it took up nearly 30 pages. This can be a daunting task for any director and he was working on it up until the final days before the film was released. Ultimately “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” stands on the world that it is created within but also he believes in the subtlety of humor and the through line within the tone that makes one believe in the transformative power of love through this mother and daughter.

By Tim Wassberg

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