Having successfully put his spin on the world of Alice In Wonderland, director Tim Burton’s next foray into the world of fairy tale is to put a modern spin on one of the oldest classics. As you may recall, in January we learned that Burton’s next project would be to bring the tale of Sleeping Beauty to the big screen in a live-action adaptation … but this time, the tale would be told from the villain’s perspective. Just like the book/musical Wicked retold the tale of The Wizard of Oz from the sympathetic point of view of the so-called Wicked Witch of the West, so too does Burton’s new Sleeping Beauty intend to tell its tale from the villain’s perspective … this time, Maleficent is the star. Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie is the actress who might star as Maleficent in Burton’s new film of the same name:
With “Maleficent,” the postmodern take on “Sleeping Beauty,” gaining momentum at Disney, there’s also a star who could be surging with it: Angelina Jolie. Earlier this week, the news broke that Disney had hired its longtime collaborator Linda Woolverton (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King”) to work on the screenplay for the live-action take on the 50-year-old hit. (Maleficent is the evil fairy godmother in the Disney film; this story would be told, “Wicked”-like, from her perspective.) Both Tim Burton and Angelina Jolie had last spring been rumored to join the project, which Disney has been kicking around for a while as a way to mine its library, among other things. Burton’s involvement remains unclear as he contemplates several projects. But sources say that, as of the last few weeks, Jolie is keen on the film and would like to sign on to play the titular villain. There’s no deal (or, for that matter, script) yet. And it’s unclear if Jolie’s involvement would be conditional on Burton moving forward with it too. But it’s nonetheless notable that Jolie — who has no new movie after shooting the international thriller “The Tourist” — is actively engaging with the material and could, according to sources, very well star in the film when all is said and done. A Disney spokesman this week said the company would not comment on anything “Maleficent”-related. Jolie manager Geyer Kosinski could not be reached for comment Thursday. A quick primer on Maleficent: The wicked fairy godmother is the character who casts the original spell on Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Princess Aurora, quoth Wikipedia) that the young girl will prick herself on a splinter and die; Maleficent is an archrival of sorts to the good fairy godmother, who casts a counter-spell that says the girl will sleep for a century and then be awakened by the kiss of a prince. The original versions of the fairy tale don’t name Maleficent; the character was named and shaped by Disney for its 1959 film, and would of course be deepened and amplified for this one. What would Jolie’s involvement mean for the property and her career? Telling a classic story from another perspective would certainly fit with the trend of putting a new spin on the standby classics. And casting Jolie in it would certainly broaden the audience for a Disney fairy tale (read: bring men in to theaters). Of course the choice to make a villain the main character instead of a secondary one could impact Disney’s ability to bring in younger audiences. And the studio would need to contend with far less pre-awareness for a single, lesser-known character than it did for a timeless classic such as “Alice in Wonderland.” But there are also plenty of reasons that Disney, whose new production chief Sean Bailey is said to hold the project close to his heart, would push “Maleficent” forward. With “Alice in Wonderland” a monster hit, it’s hardly a secret that Disney is looking to reprise more classic material. That’s especially true for a movie that, like “Alice,” centers on the battle between two opposing sovereigns. As for Jolie, she’s not really done much kid-centric over the course of her career, “Beowulf” perhaps excepted — and that’s not exactly full-on kiddie material. The idea of taking on a role that’s both live-action and actor-friendly, but still whimsical and delicate, could mark a refreshing change of pace after her recent action-movie kick that has her in “Tourist” and Phillip Noyce’s international thriller, “Salt.” Sometimes the desire is there. It just needs to be … awakened.
Sign her! Sign her, now! Angelina Jolie is one of the few actresses who can really pull off this role … I mean, she has that misunderstood evil queen look about her, don’t you think? I really LOVE the practice of retelling classic tales from the perspective of the villain. Neil Gaiman, my fave contemporary author, penned a fantastic short story titled Snow, Glass, Apples (which you can read in full HERE) that re-tells the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves story from the “evil stepmother’s” point of view … it’s amazing! I am in love with this idea of a film called Maleficent. What bums me out about rumors that get started this early in a film’s existence is that they don’t always pan out … now that I’ve got Ange in my mind as Maleficent, she’s the only person I want in the role. If they sign Angelina, Disney will be well on it’s way to having another hit on its hands. I LOVE this … do you?