Disney has provided me with an expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the #MaleficentEvent and #FireAndRescueEvent in exchange for my review of the events of the trip. No other compensation is given. The opinions and experiences in my posts are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
How many of you went to the theater to see MALEFICENT this weekend? It was all over my Facebook feed, people loving it left and right. I’m so glad that you all get to see what I’ve been gushing over for the past week in my review and my interviews with Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning (Aurora), Sharlto Copley (King Stefan), and Robert Stromberg (Director). One of my favorite characters in the film was Diaval, played fantastically by Sam Riley. Diaval is the raven but Maleficent can turn him into a human man…and maybe another form or two. You’ll have to see the movie to find out for sure. He was so cool to chat with and endearingly intimidated by a room full of 25 “mommy” bloggers. Look at the surprise on his face when he walked into our room below! Still, he was totally gracious and a joy to get to know. He’s very tall with this deep, British accent and talked to us about his new 4 month-old baby boy finally sleeping through the night. See? Totally charming.
On being part of the cast…
This is really the first major motion picture that Sam has worked on, previously focusing on independent films that while I’ve heard from friends are awesome, haven’t gotten a ton of press. So this was a really different experience for him and we asked him what that was like and how he enjoyed working on such a classic tale.
“Oh it was really exciting. The script was really great. I loved it and the lady who wrote it had written the Lion King as well and lots of other big, you know, lovely Disney movies. They do a lot of remakes and rehashes of things these days, but I thought the way they did this was really interesting. Because, I mean, what would make a woman or a sorceress curse a little baby? It’s like one of the worst things you could possibly do. And the fact that Angelina, obviously, was going to play Maleficent was very exciting.” – Sam Riley
On bringing out his inner bird…
Going back and forth between being a bird and being a man, Diaval had to exhibit some bird-like qualities. So how does one do that, bring out your inner bird? We asked Sam and got a good laugh out of his answer!
“Well I watched the old cartoon but it doesn’t really do very much in that. The raven always looks half asleep or something. They organized it so that they could bring in a real raven into a room about this big. I’d never seen a real raven before. I thought they were like crows but it’s like this big (spreads his arms wide) and it could do tricks and stuff, which is pretty scary. I mean, when it gets its wings out it’s as long as the table or something. You know, really huge. And they’re very intelligent and they’re kind of vain as well which I thought was funny. But I just watched this raven in a room for awhile just to see if anything would rub off on me and I could steal something from it while I’m the man part of the thing. And there was a really nice lady who helped me doing a movement coach.We like, tried to copy bits of his movements. And by the end of the session I was actually running around the room flapping my wings. It was horrific, yeah. She was, like, “We should film this.” So I was, like, “Under no circumstances do I ever want to see myself running around a room on YouTube going [SQUAWK].” It was awful. But it helps.” – Sam Riley
Since your character is a bird and then a human, did you have trouble transferring between the two?
“Yeah, they had the special effects people there on those days to sort of try and explain, you know, when she clicks her fingers, do I go down or am I going up into the air or something like that? And the first time it was a bit strange because they sort of went, “Well just go something like that.” And sometimes you feel really stupid doing these things. But it was good fun.” – Sam Riley
On seeing Angelina in costume…
We asked Sam what was his favorite scene was to film and he said the first one, and it was because of Angelina.
“The first one really because I was really nervous. I met Angelina before, obviously, we rehearsed and things like that, but I’d never seen her in the full costume. And they drive you from your little trailer whatever on a golf buggy which was pretty — they don’t usually do that on indy films anyway. And then they had this amazing set there and she already stood there so I was worried that I’d been keeping her waiting or something which wasn’t a good start, but. She had her back to me and, you know, with the way it was all lit amazingly or something and then when she turned around it was like… It’s weird because it looked, you know it’s not real, the cheekbones and everything and the contact lenses. But when you look at her in all that stuff it kind of, it looks — natural is maybe not the right word but it fits, you know. You don’t think it looks fake or something. In fact I only really saw her in costume for like the first four weeks of the shooting. So it was strange to see her in her normal clothes afterwards. You know, you got so used to seeing Maleficent every morning.” – Sam Riley
On auditioning for the part…
We asked Sam to tell us about auditioning for the role of Diaval. This story really stuck with me because I can just imagine how cool it was for him when he got the call.
“It was pretty classic, really, which is more or less they send you the scenes, they email you them and then you learn them at home if you’re a good boy and then I flew to London and met Rob (Stromberg, Director) and the casting director. And then you do the scene and the lady plays Angelina or whatever. You never really know, you know. Sometimes you think you’ve done it well and then it’s still don’t call us, we’ll call you type of thing. And I didn’t hear anything for quite a long time so I just thought — and my agent who is really nice said, “Yeah, but you’re not really Disney material, are you?” So I was like… But he’s got a great sense of humor. Um, yeah. I sacked him. So, then about three weeks later my American agent rang, which is always at night in Europe, and he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m in a pub.” And he said, “Well, buy yourself another drink because Angelina saw the tape and you’re Birdman.” So exciting.” – Sam Riley
On working with Angelina…
In the film, Diaval sort of plays Maleficent’s conscience. It’s an interesting role and it works so well for the plot of the movie. We asked about what that was like for him, and on working with her in general.
“At the beginning he’s more like a servant and he’s scared of her because she’s all-powerful and everything. But we were talking about it and if you think about it they spend, like, every day together for sixteen years then. And she’s isolated herself somewhere, so that I’m the only one who talks to her. So we wanted them to be a bit more like a bickering married couple by the end of it and have these lighter moments. And I can sense that there’s good in her, which she doesn’t want to admit or something. I mean, when I read the script and realize that I’m gonna have every, every single scene with her I was like, “Oh, well, this is pretty cool.”” – Sam Riley
Sam talked about what it was like to work with Angelina on the set.
“Does she turn me into a squirrel at all? She was always teasing me that she was gonna turn me into a squirrel. I think she knows that everybody’s kind of nervous when they meet her. But she’s got a very disarming sort of smile and way about her that you, you sort of start to forget. I mean you always have to forget when the camera’s on anyway. But it was really, it was a great atmosphere on set because she’s so nice with all the crew and everybody and, so everybody’s really happy to come to work in the morning.” – Sam Riley
I think this might be my longest MALEFICENT interview post but I just had to include so much of what Sam said to us. He was so funny and got a lot of laughs out of the room without really even trying too hard. We just enjoyed hearing him talk about the film and his role in it. And he’s a brilliant actor. I love his character and what he does with it.
MALEFICENT is in theaters NOW! You can buy your tickets here. I’d love for you to go see it and come back and tell me what you thought!
MALEFICENT starring Sam Riley is in theaters NOW!
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— Lindsay (@PandorasDeals) June 2, 2014