I loved Sam Riley’s character, Diaval in the movie Maleficent. After all, Diaval was confident, loyal, smart and funny.
When I found out that I’d have the chance to meet Sam Riley and interview him about his role, I wondered if he would be the same way in person that he was on screen. Was that what he was like or was he just a great actor? After having chatted with him, I can say that while he is a great actor, it wasn’t an act. He is all of those things with an emphasis on funny.
As soon as Sam Riley walked into the room and spotted our Maleficent horns on the table in front of us, he stated he wouldn’t start the interview until we had put the horns on. Of course, we obliged.
At least the horns were a source of laughter throughout the interview and made for a unique and memorable experience.
* Maybe he felt more comfortable with us having the horns on given that he had spent weeks filming with Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and the one thing you can’t miss on her is those horns.
Once we had the horns on we were ready to get the interview started. Here’s what Sam Riley had to say…
How did you prepare for the darkness of this role?
Well I’m very dark in real life (laughter) and I’ve played a lot of dark people…so I was kind of prepared for that.
Do you think your character is good or evil and are there any ways in which you identify with your character?
I think he’s good. I think he’s a great friend to have because you can turn him into anything you want (laughter). He’s fiercely loyal…he can be fierce if she is in danger and he is also very protective of Aurora.
Nobody is good or evil and that’s kinda half the message of the movie. He is a very good and loyal friend to have.
So of course I had to ask if he was a good and loyal friend too…
I’d like to think so (laughter) you’re asking the wrong person. Yes I am.
What are the themes explored in this film?
…The idea that there is good and evil is a little more complex in real life than its described in the movies.
How did you train for this role?
For this role I watched the cartoon but the Raven didn’t really do much. He was half asleep most the time. I was glad they developed it.
They kindly arranged for me to spend some time with a Raven. I thought they were like crows but their wing span is about as long as my arms. The trainer came in and I took the sheet off of the cage and I could tell why they had a bad reputation.
The trainer opened the cage and the Raven came out and strutted its stuff. It was really amazing.
I worked with a movement coach so we watched the Raven and talked about him, he like that (laughter) to see if there were any elements of his movements or personality that we could incorporate to my human incarnation. Even as a man I still consider myself, first and foremost, to be a bird. No matter what the animal, nothing beats being a raven…
Why do you think it was crucial in the telling of this version of the story for the Raven to be in human form?
From my understanding, they needed someone to be there with her (Maleficent) so that she wouldn’t be an isolated figure. You would think that in a Disney film the bird would be able to talk but I was kind of relieved that they needed it to be a human…for obvious reasons.
She needs somebody there that will question her sometimes and be witness to the moments when she soft. I really loved the part when I read it the first time because of those reasons.
Describe the relationship between Maleficent and Diaval
16 years is a long time to spend with someone…its a long relationship in Hollywood.
He is really the only one that is her soul companion during that time. It was fun to develop a certain element of bickering…It wasn’t rehearsed. We saved the fun of doing it for the first time for the camera so that it would feel spontaneous.
They get on each others nerves but also the mask that she wears of this coldness obviously slips in front of him and he sees moments of vulnerability and over time he can occasionally start to point that out to her with the courage that grows from having a long relationship.
What was it like working with Angelina Jolie?
…She has a very disarming charm. She has both real star presence and charisma but also can make you feel like you are the center of attention.
Thoughts on Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Angelina Jolie is well known now for her charity work but she was pretty rock and roll in her youth. She loved Maleficent as a girl. It was her favorite character even when she was evil. She didn’t like Aurora which is really funny because she was born to play this role.
What was it like seeing Angelina dressed up as Maleficent?
The first time that I saw her in costume it was intense because I didn’t really know what it was going to look like. What’s so strange is that I met her one time in the green room and then for the next 4 weeks I never saw her again in her home clothes. I only saw her as Maleficent. It fit her like a glove.
My hubby and I saw Maleficent last night and LOVED it…you should definitely go and see when it comes out in theaters tomorrow 5/30.