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A Message to Dads from Maleficent‘s Sharlto Copley

Sharlto Copley in MaleficentAngelina Jolie isn’t the only actor having fun in Maleficent. The new Disney film, which opens on May 30th, also stars Sharlto Copley as King Stefan. Typically a villain is the foil to a hero in a film and Angelina Jolie does a marvelous job as the larger than life villain Maleficent. Playing the hero is clearly the stunning Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty). However, Sharlto Copley brings a new element to this equation that creates a triangle of emotions in this heightened fairy tale of regret.

Last week I met Sharlto Copley to discuss his role in the new Disney film. His South African accent and rugged handsomeness were incredibly distracting, but I managed to focus. Promise.

One of the first things Sharlto said was that he doesn’t enjoy playing villains. Surprising news considering he has made quite the career playing the bad guy. Sharlto explained that he finds playing villains to be unpleasant so he knew he would need to find a solid way to relate to King Stefan. “My way in with Stefan was to take a very male trait. Most men have a sort of ambition, they want to be the king of their castle.” He saw the character as a cautionary tale for men. “What happens when your male drive and ego and ambition get carried away with itself. In this worst case scenario he’s prepared to betray his true love to become king.”

There are several intense and beautifully filmed battle scenes within Maleficent, and I wanted to know if Sharlto did any specific training for those scenes. Sharlto said most actors who perform lots of action roles end up needing to be always ready for whatever is thrown their way. “When you do something like this you have to be ready — it was one of my biggest surprises going into acting and then action films. You just have to keep yourself conditioned, almost like an athlete does. Just general, all around conditioning for the repetitive nature of it.”

Some of the hardest scenes for Sharlto within Maleficent were ones that had real fire being used on the sets. The lack of oxygen was a challenge for him physically and mentally. Sharlto then laughed and said, “But it’s enjoyable. It helps for the character for me, you know.”

And that is why I will never be an action star.

The film will bring up some interesting conversations just before Father’s Day so I asked Sharlto if he had any messages for dads who may want to take their little girls to see the film.

“Yes. Spend time with your children so you don’t end up like Stefan. Don’t fall off your castle.”

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