This weekend, like many of you, I took my family to see Disney’s Maleficent. My son is 5 and before we went to the theater we watched all of the trailers of the film online together. I also told him the story of Sleeping Beauty. He really loved the film (as did my mother).
One of our favorite characters in the film is one I described to my son as being a bit like a “transformer.” Sam Riley plays Diaval, who animal shape shifts depending on Maleficent’s needs. Sam is intense and comical and moody and every bit the perfect foil for Angelina Jolie.
Landing the part of Diaval was a thrill for Sam Riley. Recently I met Sam and he explained the process of how he became a part of Maleficent.
It was pretty classic. They send you the scenes, you know, they email you them and then you learn them at home if you’re a good boy. I flew to London and met Rob and the casting director. And then you do the scene and the lady plays Angelina or whatever. Sometimes you think you’ve done it well and then you never [hear]. It’s still ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ type of thing.
I didn’t hear anything for quite a long time so I just thought … My agent, who is really nice, said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not really Disney material, are you?’ He’s got a great sense of humor. Um, yeah. I sacked him. [He laughs.] 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.
Some of the sweetest scenes in the film are when Diaval helps tend to a baby Princess Aurora. You have to wonder if those moments of tenderness came home with him. Four and a half months ago Sam and his wife, actress Alexandra Maria Lara, welcomed their son Ben.
Now that Sam is part of fairytale lore I wondered if he had already started introducing his little guy to a bit of “Once Upon a Time…” Not exactly! New fatherhood for Sam is exactly how new parenthood was for most of us — everything hinges on trying to figure out the magic solution to sleep.
Sam shared, “I mean, you try absolutely everything at the beginning, don’t you?” Luckily things seem to be working in that department for Sam and Alexandra Maria, as Ben has just started to sleep through the night. The problem now is — they aren’t! Sam laughs, “It was like a holiday at first — although you wouldn’t [sleep]. You wake up like four times the first night that he did sleep sort of wondering what’s wrong, you know?”
The movie is rich with engrossing moments between Sam Riley’s Diaval and Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, and it is worth seeing just to experience their chemistry.
Maleficent opened on May 30 and in three days has already earned $170.6 million worldwide. The Hollywood Reporter has identified these earnings as a career best for Angelina Jolie.
Read More About Maleficent:
• The Secret Behind Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent Performance
• Finding the Motherhood Themes Within Disney’s Maleficent
• Elle Fanning Fulfills Her Princess Dreams in Maleficent
• A Message to Dads from Maleficent‘s Sharlto Copley