Angelina Jolie embodies the titular character in Maleficent in a way that no other actress could.
"It is really funny when people say you'd be obvious for a great villain," the 38-year-old says in the March 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly. "She was just my favorite as a little girl. I was terrified of her, but I was really drawn to her. I loved her. There were some discussions about it before I got the part, and I got a phone call from my brother, who said, 'You've got to get your name on the list for this.'"
The actress' youngest daughter, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, even makes a cameo as a young Princess Aurora.
"We think it's fun for our kids to have cameos and join us on set, but not to be actors," she says. "That's not the goal for Brad and me at all. I think we would both prefer that they didn't become actors."
According to Jolie, it was only out of necessity that she and Brad Pitt put their little girl in the movie. "She was 4 at the time, and other 3- and 4-year-old [actors] really wouldn't come near me. Big kids thought I was cool—but little kids really didn't like me," says the Academy Award winner, who has five more children with Pitt. "So in order to have a child that wants to play with [Maleficent]...it had to be a child that really liked me and wasn't afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws. So it had to be Viv."
Some of the Jolie-Pitt kids were afraid of the Sleeping Beauty villain, however. "I told my kids I was playing Maleficent, and they went, 'She's so scary!' and I said, 'Let me tell you the real story, but you can't tell anybody.' And I put them in the room and told them the story. So this was my test too, like any parent. And the next day I heard Shiloh getting into a fight with another kid, defending Maleficent. Saying, 'You don't understand her!'"
After witnessing the argument, Jolie felt compelled to take the role. "It's not just that there's more to people than meets the eye, but that there's injustice in the world and children get fired up about injustice. [They] want the character they believe in to get up and fight. And when that character makes mistakes—which Maleficent does—and crosses many lines, you want them to be angry at her and concerned and confused and, in the end, somehow understand something they didn't know before."
Jolie also opens up about what life's been like after getting a preventative double mastectomy in 2013.
"I'm great!" she says. "I'm very happy I made the decision. I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like Unbroken to have something to be really focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work."
The In the Land of Blood and Honey director decided to share her story in a New York Times essay, and since then, she's had the opportunity to meet many people who are going through similar situations. "I feel very, very close—much closer—to other women, and women who are going through the same thing. Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women's issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer," Jolie tells Entertainment Weekly. "I've talked to men about their daughters' and wives' health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost their parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children."
Jolie adds, "The reason that I wrote it was to try to communicate and help and connect with other women and other families going through the same thing. I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people."