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It's not easy to be friends with Maleficent. Just ask Sam Riley, who returns as Diaval, Maleficent's most loyal companion, for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. As Aurora begins a new life, Maleficent must deal with the struggle every parent endures when their child seeks independence: letting go. Luckily, she has Diaval there to not only understand this pain but also remain steadfastly on Maleficent's side throughout the struggles she goes through in the film.
SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS spoke to Riley about how the changes in his life over the last few years influenced Diaval as a character and his complex relationship with Maleficent.
So, it's been five years since the last film. Do you feel like there's anything in your life that's happened or new experiences that you've had that changed your perspective on the character or how you approached it this time?
Yeah, there were a number of things. I've become a father in the meantime. My boy's five years old now, so something must have happened around that time. That's changed me as a person as it does anyone who becomes a parent. I suppose now when I play parents, I have some experience of it, and I consider myself the sort of stepfather of Aurora as a character in this thing.
The other thing that happened was that I relaxed a little bit, I think. I was just beginning to really enjoy the process of shooting Maleficent when it ended. I was sort of overwhelmed and terrified for the first part of it. I never get to make sequels. The first... usually, they either flop or I die, so there was never really sequel options going on. So I really enjoyed myself this time. I wasn't afraid of Angelina or the whole process of it. I really enjoyed myself, really.
You mention that you did some crazy bird stuff to prepare for being a bird. Did you do anything to be a bear? For your moments as a bear, did you have any bear training?
No, not really. Sadly. No, none. I don't have to be there on these moments. I just generally do the...bird comes in and you land here, and then I squat on the floor. Then, when she does this, I sort of jump up in the air and pretend I'm... It's like being a kid again, really. No, I didn't. I did my homework on the first film, but the second one I thought, "I've got this."
I notice that you have cheetahs on your shirt. Are there any other animals you would have liked to turn into?
This is a subliminal message to Angie.
To turn into a cheetah.
For Maleficent 3.
Maleficent's not the easiest person to deal with all the time. What is it about their relationship that keeps Diaval loyal to her? It's been a long time now, how's that working?
I don't know, it's a strange one, isn't it? Well, she's very beautiful, obviously. I think he loves her, honestly, and I think he sort of, even in the first one, could see quite early what she was resisting in herself, and I think he realized that in the first one. That when she was furious about something that, A, she calmed down eventually and, B, that she'd been hurt. He could sense that in her in the first movie. I also thought, "Now she's got her wings back, she doesn't really need me anymore," but maybe she likes him as well. But they're the parents of Aurora, they both have a shared love of her, and I think he's in love with her, probably.
That's also for Maleficent 3. They get married.
That would be cool.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil flies into theaters October 18.