“When I knew I was going to Maleficent I thought, ‘I have to train, I’m not good enough. I’m not ready,’ ” she said during a discussion of her career at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
Knowing that the villain needed to have a commanding presence on screen, Jolie went to a voice coach to help give her character an extra edge.
“I thought, ‘I’m not really sure I could do what needs to be done for her,’ ” she said. “[The coach] had me play around with throwing my voice as big as it could go.”
But when it came to finalizing Maleficent’s voice and mannerisms, Jolie turned to her six kids.
Jolie with Vivienne, Shiloh, Knox and Zahara.
“The accent and everything about her was discovered when I was giving my kids baths,” she said. “I think I tried 17 different things on them. They would say, ‘What are you doing? Mom, stop talking so weird.’ One day I just got really nutty and did [the voice] and they fell over laughing. I did it all night long and I finally found it.”
The 2014 movie was a rousing success, raking in more than $750 million worldwide. Her return to the Disney villainess would mark her first onscreen appearance since her 2015 role in By the Sea.
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Jolie also talked about how her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand, influenced her decision to become an actress.
“I grew up around film and I grew up in a town where film was so important that it’s all anyone talked about. It was the thing to be. When I was growing up, I remember my mom telling me how she wanted to be an actress and my grandmother wanted to be an actress and she was so excited that I could be an actress. I never really thought I could be anything else and I never really questioned it. I did start to get into acting and I did it partially because it was something to do with my mom and it made her so happy.”
Bertrand died of cancer in 2007. “I realized when my mom passed away that it was something I was very much something I was doing for her and it changed a little bit,” Jolie said. “I haven’t done much since she passed away, in front of the camera. Now I do it for my kids. And I do love it! It is fun! Who doesn’t love to get silly?”
The “In Conversation with” event wasn’t Jolie’s first outing at this year’s festival. She made the Sunday premiere of The Breadwinner, an animated film she executive produced, a family affair when she walked the red carpet with five of her six kids — Pax, 13; Zahara, 12; Shiloh, 11, and twins Knox and Vivenne, both 9.
Jolie, 42, is also getting ready for the Toronto premiere of her latest directorial project, Netflix’s First They Killed My Father. Last weekend, she took all six of her children — including eldest son Maddox, 16, to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for another premiere of the film, about a Cambodian child’s experience during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.