WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Disney's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, opening Friday nationwide.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the second time Angelina Jolie has donned the horns of the iconic Disney villain. In 2014, Maleficent told the story of Sleeping Beauty from the dark fairy's perspective -- and saw her find redemption through her love for Aurora, the princess she cursed as a baby. Now, Mistress of Evil, continues the tale, as Aurora becomes engaged to Prince Phillip, and she and Maleficent face the prospect of Aurora leaving the magical kingdom of the Moors and joining a human family.
For Jolie, the mother of six children, both adopted and biological, the story was meaningful. During a press event, the Academy Award winner went into detail about what the film has to say about family, acceptance, and diversity.
"There are metaphors in the film. Not to be heavy about it. But always I think a good film for young people has these messages," she said. "[Aurora and Maleficent] get pulled apart. People tell [them], ‘Because you’re not the same, you’re not family. Because you’re not exactly like her, you’re not her mother.’ And that certainly strikes a chord with me."
Jolie went on to describe the struggle Maleficent and Aurora go through in the film to decide who they are and where they belong. "I think Maleficent questions whether she’s good enough to be a mother, and whether she is [Aurora's] mother," she observed.
"And so in the middle of this film, we go on our different journeys and [the human Aurora] finds herself in this idea [of], ‘Well, I’m like this, I was born this way, so that must be my true nature.’ And [dark fairy Maleficent thinks], ‘Well I’m a creature and I’m like this, so that must be my true nature,'" she continued. "So we go through this period in the middle of the film where everybody’s really focusing on their differences."
Yet, Jolie noted that, by the end of the film, Maleficent and Aurora, as well as the people who care for them, decide that's not the way they want their lives to be. Jolie explained that in the movie, "there’s a real push to say this is not how it should be... and diversity makes us stronger and there must be a better way forward."
As a result, she continued, "[The characters] have to come together. And so we do that in the film, with the humans and the creatures and the moor-folk coming together, we do that as a family, and we come together and we fight against this separation, and we unite and we say ‘This is the world we choose to live in.' And I think that that is a very important message."
Jolie also feels the film speaks to embracing one's true self. She said this is an important part of Maleficent and Aurora's relationship. Even though the pair are quite different they see each other "exactly as [they are] and... don't want [one another] to be any different." Jolie hopes that movie-goers will take away the film's message: "Be your true self... whatever that may be."
Directed by Joachim Rønning, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Jenn Murray, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Juno Temple and Brenton Thwaites. The film opens Friday nationwide.