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Sam Riley Maleficent Interview

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Sam Riley Raven

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Well today marks the last of my Maleficent interviews. If you have been following along my Maleficent journey you saw my interviews with Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley and Director Robert Stromberg. I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for submitting questions to be answered. Today I am excited to share with you my Sam Riley Maleficent Interview. Sam Riley plays Diaval the raven. When Sam walked in the room and we proceeded to ask the first question on what was his favorite scene he said “I haven’t seen it yet. I know. It’s outrageous. Where are the Disney people? Um, I’m terrified. What was the start of the question again?” We all just laughed, are we really that intimidating? I really loved interviewing Sam because he was so funny and seemed to be having fun with us and I loved his British accent. Maleficent is now open in theaters. We took our kids to see it this weekend and they loved it! This will be the last of my Maleficent interviews but I had some exciting things to share with you about the new Planes movie coming later this week!

We asked him ,what was it like to work on a new but yet very old story?

Oh, it was, it was really exciting. Most of my films are sort of independent-type cinema that not many people go and watch usually. But they’re all great, obviously, but the script was really great. I really loved it and the lady who wrote it had written the Lion King as well and lots of other big, you know, lovely Disney movies. But I thought this time the way they did this was really interesting. Because, what would make a woman or a sorceress curse a little baby? It’s like one of the worst things you could possibly do. And before everything’s so black and white and these days, I mean, ladies are still waiting for a prince sometimes, but to just lie there asleep, it’s not really the modern way is it. And the fact that Angelina, obviously, was going to play Maleficent was very exciting.

Sam Riley

Was there research you had to do to figure out how to get into your character? Or did you have creative license because it wasn’t something that you knew?

Well, I watched the old, the old cartoon but it doesn’t really do very much in that. The raven always looks half asleep or something, so they organized it so that they could bring in a real raven into a room about this big. I’d never seen a real raven before. I thought they were like crows, but it’s like this big and it could do tricks and stuff, which is pretty scary. I mean, when it gets its wings out, it’s as long as the table or something. You know, really huge! They’re very intelligent and they’re kind of vain as well which I thought was funny. I just watched this raven in a room for a while just to see if anything would rub off on me and if I could steal something from it while I’m doing the man part of the role. There was a really nice lady who helped.She was a movement coach and we tried to copy bits of his movements. By the end of the session I was actually running around the room flapping my wings.

It was horrific! She said, “We should film this.” So I was, like, “Under no circumstances do I ever want to see myself running around a room on YouTube going [SQUAWK].” It was awful, but it helps. Like when you do something really stupid and embarrassing at the beginning, when she turns me from a bird into a man at the beginning I wasn’t wearing very many clothes, which was a strange conversation to have for a Disney movie. Like, how much bottom can you show? So once you’ve done something really silly then it makes you more relaxed, you know. I should have done it before coming in here actually.

How much hair and makeup did you have to go through every day?

It’s about three and half, four hours something? But I couldn’t really complain because there were other people that had been in there since three o’clock in the morning. They, they have to wake them up that early so that they’re ready to work at nine, you know? SO the ladies and guys that were putting all this stuff on, they probably work some of the hardest because they have to be there at that time and then the whole day they have to make sure things aren’t falling off.

I’m a really good sleeper. I used to be anyway. I’ve just had a baby, so after a couple of weeks I managed to be able to lie down in the chair and while people were, like, gluing things to my face I could actually sleep through it which is pretty impressive. Until one morning they turned the seat back up and realized they stuck my nose on the wrong way, it was sticking up. So they wouldn’t let me do it anymore after that.

Sam Riley group

What’s your most memorable scene?

The first one really, because I was really nervous. I met Angelina before, obviously, we rehearsed and things like that, but I’d never seen her in the full costume. They drive you from your little trailer on a golf buggy, they don’t usually do that on indy films, and then they had this amazing set there and she had already been standing there so I was worried that I’d been keeping her waiting or something which wasn’t a good start. She had her back to me and it was all lit amazingly and then when she turned around it was weird because you know it’s not real, you know, the cheekbones and everything and the contact lenses. But when you look at her in, in all that stuff, it kind of looks…. natural is maybe not the right word, but it fits. You don’t think it looks fake. In fact, I only really saw her in costume for like the first four weeks of the shooting. So it was strange to see her in her normal clothes afterwards. You got so used to seeing Maleficent every morning.

Can you tell us about your audition?

It was pretty classic, really, which is more or less, they send you the scenes and then you learn them at home. I flew to London and met Rob and the casting director and then I did the scene and a lady played Angelina.. I had the feeling, you never really know. Sometimes you think you’ve done it well and then it’s still, don’t call us, we’ll call you type of thing. I didn’t hear anything for quite a long time and my agent who is really nice said, “Yeah, but you’re not really Disney material, are you?” but he’s got a great sense of humor. I sacked him. 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.

Since your character is a bird and then a human, did you have trouble transferring between the two?

They had the special effects people there on those days to, sort of, try and explain that when she clicks her fingers, you know, do I go down or am I going up into the air or something like that? The first time it was a bit strange because they sort of went, “Well, just go something like that.” Sometimes you feel really stupid doing these things, but it was good fun. You know, like, if he’s flying in then he should be sort of off balance. I’m really curious to see how it turns out.

Maleficent and Sam Riley

I think your character plays her conscience throughout the movie. So was it intimidating to you almost?

When we talked about it in the beginning she said that you, you know, at the beginning he’s more like a servant and he’s scared of her because she’s all-powerful and everything. If you think about it they spend, like, every day together for sixteen years then. I mean, she’s isolated herself somewhere, so that I’m the only one who talks to her. So we wanted them to be a bit more like a bickering married couple by the end of it and have these lighter moments. I can sense that there’s good in her, which she likes. When I read the script and realized that I was going to have every single scene with her I was like, “Oh, well, this is pretty cool.”

Did you get to improvise much?

We did a little bit of it, sometimes. I mean, the script was so great you didn’t really feel like you were saying, forcing things, you know. Sometimes with lines or something it doesn’t feel very natural to say them, but this time it was really great. There were fun little things….does she turn me into a squirrel at all? She was always teasing me that she was gonna turn me into a squirrel.

We replied and told him he would just have to watch the movie and find out lol.

Wouldn’t it be funny if I turned into a worm or something like that? So, um, no, it was very easy. I think she knows that everybody’s kind of nervous when they meet her. But she’s got a very disarming sort of smile and way about her that you, you sort of, start to forget. I mean you always have to forget when the camera’s on anyway who you’re playing with or something. It was a great atmosphere on set because she’s so nice with all the crew and everybody and, so everybody’s really happy to come to work in the morning. There was a bit of improvisation but it, it was just the kind of re- relaxed environment.

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