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Will Angelina Jolie wake Sleeping Beauty?

March 26, 2010 |  7:35 am


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.

-- Steven Zeitchik

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Upper photo: Maleificent in "Sleeping Beauty." Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Lower photo: Angelina Jolie. Credit: Ariel Marinkovic / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (17)

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i would freaking love this. but this means she can't gain weight because she is at the perfect weight to play this role with her sunken cheeks. lol She has the look. too bad she looks better when she's at a heavier weight.

You wrote: "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."

Um, Google (and IMDB) is your friend: Jolie was in the Oscar nominated Shark's Tale, and one of the most successful animated films of all time, Kung Fu Panda. I'd say that's pretty much doing "full-on kiddie material," fairly often - and doing it successfully.

Perhaps you meant 'live action' kiddie fare? Well, that can be said for most dramatic actresses, especially Oscar winners. I can't for the life of me think of what "full-on kiddie material," as you call it, that Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Rachel Weisz or Meryl Streep have done during their careers.

That said, is the true test of power in Hollywood, how many articles come out claiming to have a Jolie attachment? If so, she reigns supreme, because every other day I'm seeing her name attached to something, with people claiming she's interested.

That said, I don't think she acts nearly enough, one movie every other year is insufficient. Tell Brad to watch those babies and put HER in a Tarantino movie next.

Angelina is one great actress...she can play any role - from a grieving mom (Changeling), a scared wife (Mighty Heart), an addict/model (Gia) and of course, crazy in Girl Interrupted in which she won an Oscar....with all the negative press and viscious lies about her, perhaps a wicked witch should be her next role, however, her fans still see her as magical!!!

I would LOVE to see this happen. I would be the first in line to get my ticket. The only thing I'm hesitant on is the writing. I was not a huge fan of Alice.

I think Helena would be a better choice; she's got the sunken look and she plays great in the evillike characters, Mrs. Lovett, Red Queen... She would be great as Maleficent, and if Tim Burton is directing, Helena is more than likely going to have a role, as will Johnny Depp.

I think Angelina is the perfect cast and Tim Burton will definitely turn this movie into a great film. Robert Pattinson playing the prince would complete this casting as the best casting. Kiera Knightley as the princess will be perfect too.

YES!!! THis would be perfect!

And NO!!! to Helena! NO!!!!

She was great as Mrs. Lovette, but NO!!!!

Angelina would be amazing in this role! I disagree with a prior post about how Helena Bonham Carter should be starring in this movie. While she's an amazing actress, she doesn't have enough presence to carry this movie. I'm not sure she has enough presence to carry the lead role in any movie. Angelina certainly does!

I don't think A. Jolie has been that great in anything but the early sociopath roles. If not for her association with Pitt I don't think she'd have ever gotten this much attention, most of which is for non work related stuff anyway, which says it all. Just not interested in seeing either of them at this point.

The worst thing that could happen to this movie is if Tim Burton signed on. He does wonderful original work, but terrible adaptations. Everything he does is the same, and this story would need a new, refreshing take on it. I think Angelina could do it well, but it doesn't even need her. The power of the story is strong enough that they could use talented unknowns in every role (including director and writer), market it well, and make something that is both amazing and successful.

Angelina Jolie did a Shark's Tale and Kung Fu Panda. :)

which opens the question what will be he next seminal traditional animaton from disney?

[a reworking from the 1950s original masterpiece? / a prequel based around sleeping beauty]

[i think jolie would be successful in the role but her acting could be transferred into an 'animated' version rather than 'live action'
[this translation could be more anticipated...i wonder what walt would think?]

best disney?
[Sleeping beauty...lion king...beauty and the beast...?]
[in no particular order]

...Did someone seriously just suggest Robert Pattinson as the prince? I might go kill several dozen small kittens now. That would be a HORRIBLE choice if we wanted a movie that actually centered around acting (which all movies should, am I right?). He's a terrible actor and would truly appreciate it if people would stop suggesting him for parts that call for acting in general! Just because he's in a big movie (big, not good) does not make him a high-caliber actor. Keira Knightly would also be a "ehhhh" choice for a princess. If Disney were to follow what "Wicked" did, the princess wouldn't be shown in a good light. I was thinking more along the lines of Miley Cirus (I'M JOKING!). -end rant-

maleficent is a dragon not a fairy or a fairy god mother or a step mother and its a prick on the spindle of a spinning wheel before her 16th birthday get your facts straight lol. and i also hate angelina jolie soooooooooo much and i would be so sad if she was in any form of sleeping beauty or disney movie because s.b. is a classic and jolie is such a homewrecker.

Helena Bonham Carter should play Maleficent. She's carried leads before, and does so very well. She's also, IMO, a much better actress than Angelina Jolie.

I'm still amazed at why, after FIVE YEARS and MANY children, people still single out Angelina Jolie for being a homewrecker when, in fact, Brad was the ONE who choose her and IS still with her and can we move on to the fact that she has made some great movies and IS a great actress!

FAMKE JANSSEN would be GREAT, in my opinion. Or perhaps Tilda Swinton?


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