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Michelle Pfeiffer revels in regal villain role


Oct. 13, 2019

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Michelle Pfeiffer is very good at being bad — and in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” she’s spectacularly bad news as one of Disney’s classic evil queens.
As Queen Ingrith, Pfeiffer, 61, schemes to block the marriage of her son Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) to Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), who has been raised by Angelina Jolie’s powerful but non-human, magically endowed Maleficent.
Pfeiffer’s big screen reprehensible women make a formidable list. Her Catwoman in “Batman Returns” remains the definitive portrait. Her career was launched as a cool, coked-out gangster’s moll in “Scarface.” She won career-best best reviews as a scarily manipulative mother in “White Oleander.”
And in the 1962 Baltimore of “Hairspray,” Pfeiffer was a Baltimore racist hellbent on her daughter’s showbiz success.
So does Pfeiffer rate Ingrith as maybe her worst baddie ever?
“No. Actually, I never thought of it that way,” she said at the Montage Hotel. “Certainly I was excited just at the notion of working with Angelina and Elle.
“Then I was surprised when I read the script, ‘Oh, this is really a great part!’ I think you just approach them all differently. I had a lot of fun doing this. I felt I had a lot of freedom to try and find some other colors in the humanity.”
This “Maleficent” offers its leading players three strong women to play. “That’s one of the interesting things about this film,” Pfeiffer noted. “It is a very unusual fairy tale. That’s one of the things I loved about the first [2014] film, it was so surprising. It played in this gray area and talked about good versus evil. That all of us have a little bit of everything and in terms of strength and how it manifests itself: It’s different for everyone.
“My character is really brilliant and diabolical. But I wouldn’t consider her terribly wise.”
Does Ingrith have any vulnerability?
“Everyone has vulnerability. She’s damaged. Without getting too cerebral about the whole thing, nobody behaves that way unless they’re incredibly damaged. In some ways, what she resorts to is truly out of very deep fear.”
Would this queen ever sacrifice her own dreams for the common good? “It may not appear at first blush that Ingrith is willing to sacrifice anything. She IS willing to sacrifice her son.
“It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him,” she added without winking, getting laughs. “It’s complicated.”
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