Disney adds a strong female cast to Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent”

As if seeing Angelina Jolie as the evil queen isn’t enough reason to see Disney’s upcoming live-action film Maleficent, a burst of casting activity just brought some intriguing new players to the mix.

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Elle Fanning will play Sleeping Beauty, whose actual name is Aurora in the Disney versions of the story.

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Fanning is just 14, but keep in mind that Princess Aurora was 16 when she fell asleep as a result of Maleficent’s curse. Given that the movie focuses primarily on the events leading up to the curse, Fanning is a fit, age-wise. And she’s made a strong impression in virtually every film she’s made — she pretty much stole Super 8 as far as I’m concerned.

Even better, two Harry Potter alums are among the six supporting cast members announced Wednesday: Imelda Staunton and Miranda Richardson, better known as Delores Umbridge and Rita Skeeter.

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Staunton will play Knotgrass, one of the three fairies assigned to protect Aurora after the curse. Another of the fairies, Flittle, will be played by Lesley Manville from Another Year.

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Richardson plays Queen Ulla, a fairy queen and Maleficent’s aunt — who doesn’t like her niece very much.

A familiar ABC Family face, India Eisley from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, is set to play the younger Maleficent. She certainly has the looks for it.

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I watch Secret Life only occasionally, but Eisley, who plays Amy’s smartass younger sister Ashley, is my favorite character. Watching her turn evil should be fun.

Maleficent starts shooting in June and the prince who awakens Aurora hasn’t been cast yet. But the movie will be more of a character study than a fairy tale romance, so perhaps the prince isn’t a big part of the story.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing the princess wake up without help from a man for a change. Disney, are you listening?

Any thoughts about the Maleficent cast? Do you think Elle can hold her own on screen with Angelina? Who else would you like to see in this movie?

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