It’s been five years since we last saw Maleficent. Angelina Jolie played the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty in the live-action film Maleficent. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton also returned for the sequel and she had to think of the story that came after the ending of the animated film we all know.
Woolverton spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by phone about the sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. She revealed some interesting plotlines she considered but ultimately abandoned and explained how the sequel story developed. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is in theaters this weekend.
There was only room for two mothers in ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a battle between Maleficent and Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson)’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer). Woolverton tried to fit a third mother in at one point.
“There were some other versions that we didn’t follow, a version where she found her mother that didn’t work out,” Woolverton said. “There was a version where she was looking for her mother. Maleficent was looking for her mother. That one didn’t play out. So yeah, there’s always some paths you go down that just don’t work out.”
Why the sequel was easier to write
Woolverton said fitting the first film around the Sleeping Beauty story was more challenging than creating her own story in Mistress of Evil.
“It was hard to work around the story,” Woolverton said. “That was actually harder. We had these seven years where Aurora has to be raised in the woods. I had these restrictions. Of course, I had all the wonder of the original characters and all of that.”
Not that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was easy.
“The complex part of this one was well, what happens next?” Woolverton said. “What happens in a relationship between Maleficent and Aurora? It’s complex, that relationship. So that was good but then there was a question of well, what? What does happen? And then also, really examine the relationship between a mother and a daughter and the conflicts there.”
It’s also about the nature of storytelling
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil explains that even though Maleficent redeemed herself and took care of Aurora (Elle Fanning), the story spread with just the scary parts. In the film, you’ll learn who spread that story to make Maleficent look bad.
“That came in for sure in the various drafts,” Woolverton said. “That was not in the very, very beginning. I always try to look at what are we saying? What do we want to say? Going off the first movie, which is always about the redemptive power of love, I wanted to find the next level of that theme. So spreading stories about someone is secondary.”
That secondary theme is still very relevant in 2019. Be careful which stories you believe because someone may have an agenda to manipulate you.
“We have to create the reason the story existed at all, the original story,” Woolverton said. “So it just became a little complicated about how to advance the idea that she’s a protagonist and a good person even though there’re these stories about her being a bad person.”
You’ll learn where Maleficent came from
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil also reveals where the title character came from. She discovers a world of dark faeries, or fae for short. Woolverton got to create the dark fae.
“They represent nature and they’re under siege as nature is under siege, as we all know,” Woolverton said. “[I got] to create the dark fae and the mythology of Maleficent and how she was part of them and didn’t know it.”
These scenes were always in ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’
Some scenes survived every draft of the Maleficent sequel. The dinner between Maleficent and Ingrith was always there.
“The dinner scene was always there from the very, very beginning outline,” Woolverton said. “The conflict in that dinner scene between Maleficent and Ingrith, the challenges there.”
The wedding of Aurora and Philip was always there too.
“It’s a deconstructed wedding,” Woolverton said. “I wanted to mess that up. I love that the wedding happens but it’s earned. It’s an earned wedding and I really wanted the relationship between the princess and her prince. I really wanted to believe that they were together. I really wanted to see them stand for each other. The wedding is earned.”