The Disney film MALEFICENT is an eye-popping spectacle that features mega-star Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, and rising British star Sam Riley playing the character of Maleficent’s shape shifting right-hand man Diaval.
Sam Riley was a scene-stealing warm-hearted character that brought hope to the films dark tone. Recently we joined in on a chat with Sam on his visit to Miami to talk about the film and his experience making it.
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: Tell us about your take on the character of Diaval.
RILEY: Before filming, we talked about his character and his fear of Maleficent. Yet Divial spent every day with her, for 16 years so he became the only soul companion she had. They even began bickering as he continues to voice his opinions and deepening his arc. I like the fact that he sees through her mask of coldness.
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: When he’s not in his human form, Diaval is a Raven, not a crow as I first thought. So, what’s it like playing a Raven, and how do you prepare for such a character?
RILEY: We were looking for elements of the raven’s personality, so we got to spend time with a real one. They are pretty big; very big, and they have a certain strut and confidence. He (the raven) seemed to love himself, and had this swagger.
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: Ravens are intimidating. What are the qualities that your character displayed that you admire?
RILEY:This character has good qualities. He’s loyal, and fun on one hand, and can be fierce if Maleficent is in danger. He is able to see things that Maleficent can’t see, but the audience does see. He talks about that to her. I’m glad they made the raven a human being. I really loved the part.
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: The film has some serious fight scenes, battles, and a dark plot to some degree. Do you think kids will like the film?
RILEY: Disney is able to weave in horror and tragedy. Heck Bambi saw his mother shot to death by a hunter right? Riley with the Miami media – with horns
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: What was it like working with a global superstar like Angelina Joile?
RILEY: She has a very disarming charm and yet she has that real star presence and charisma. She is able to make you feel the center of attention so that is really impressive and I see how she is such an amazing figure.
HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT: This role is vastly different from the independent films you’ve done in the past, which in some cases were pretty tragic.
RILEY: Yes, those previous roles were brutal, and not for young audiences. So I’m glad I was able to do a film that my son could watch before he was 18
So who is Sam Riley and how did he emerge to become a co-star in a Disney mega-budget film? The English actor and singer of the Leeds band 10,000 Things, with whom he achieved moderate success. After their first release on indie label Voltage Records in 2002, they signed to major label Polydor for one self-titled album. They disbanded in 2005. His has his breakthrough performance playing the role of Ian Curtis in the film Control, a biopic about the lead singer of the 1970s post-punk band Joy Division. The film received high critical acclaim largely due to Riley’s performance, which won him a selection of awards including the British Independent Film Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” a BAFTA “Rising Star” nomination; and a Mark Kermode nod for Best Actor 2007. He currently lives in Berlin with his wife and Control co-star Alexandra Maria Lara. They married in August 2009 and have a son, born in January 2014.
Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. Audiences should enjoy the twists within the story and the character arcs that make it interesting.