At the movies

Indie darling Sam Riley in Miami, talks going mainstream as Angelina Jolie’s sidekick in ‘Maleficent’

 
Loading...
Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

Sam Riley was disappointed that he only got one day to spend in Miami to promote Disney’s (anticipated) blockbuster Maleficent, which opens Friday.

“What’s this about? I’m calling Walt!” he deadpans from the Mandarin Oriental Miami Hotel. “Oh wait. . .”

Riley’s a witty chap, and his cheeky delivery serves him well as Angelina Jolie’s shape-shifting whipping boy Diaval, in this 3D, updated version of Sleeping Beauty.

How was it getting bossed around by the evil queen?

“Well, there are worse people to be a sidekick for,” he says of the film’s star. “She’s incredibly professional but a very warm person to work with. We had a lot of fun doing our scenes and how we had to act as if we were on each other’s nerves.”

Funny thing: As a lad, Riley had no interest in the story of Princess Aurora, who was cursed to fall into a deep sleep on her 16th birthday after pricking her finger. Jungle Book was more his thing.

But here he is with top billing in one of the biggest releases this year.

Audiences (especially the little Frozen-obsessed girls this movie is hoping to entice) may not know Riley’s body of work. Before this major turn, the Brit mainly had roles in serious indie dramas such as the 2007 biopic Control, about punk rocker Ian Curtis, the Joy Division singer who commited suicide at age 23; and the 2012 film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, as narrator/protagonist Sal Paradise.

But now the former Burberry model is hanging with the A-list crowd.

“Yes, this is all new for me,” admits Riley, who is married to his Control costar, German actress Alexandra Maria Lara. The couple’s first child, a boy, was born in January. “Normally I’m not comic relief, I’m tragic relief. That’s me: tears and cigarettes.”

As for Jolie, she didn’t see herself as a baddie.

“There are people today, especially kids, that have been bullied and felt like they are outsiders or felt different,” Jolie recently told The Associated Press of her character who sports a warped Viking-esque helmet, crazy-sharp cheekbones and blood-red lipstick. “She is kind of an anti-hero for the odd man out, and when she feels abused, or when somebody hurts her, she then says, ‘Oh, all right. You’re going to mess with me? Watch me.’ 

Oh, and Riley does realize the gravitas of his situation.

When pressed to hear more about his experience with Jolie, whose children with Brad Pitt -— Vivienne, Zahara and Pax — have cameos in the movie, Riley ribs, “Oh, I haven’t been asked that question before. You’re the first reporter. Let me think of an answer. . .”

Madeleine Marr

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • Gaga on Bennett duet CD: Jazz comes easier vs. pop

    NEW YORK (AP) – Lady Gaga is a bona fide pop star, but the singer says recording jazz music was easier than pop.

  •  
Tim Gunn attends the 13th annual New York Restoration Project Annual Spring Picnic at General Grant National Memorial on May 29, 2014 in New York City.

    Celebrity birthdays on July 29

    Actor Professor Irwin Corey (“Car Wash”) is 100! Actor Robert Horton (“Wagon Train”) is 90. Actor David Warner (“Titanic”) is 73. Singer-bassist Geddy Lee of Rush is 61. Filmmaker Ken Burns is 61. TV personality Tim Gunn is 61. Singer Patti Scialfa with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is 61. Country singer Martina McBride is 48. Actor Wil Wheaton is 42. Actor Stephen Dorff is 41. Actor Josh Radnor is 40.

  •  
Michael Franit

    In concert

    Michael Franti & Spearhead bring Soulshine Tour to Boca Raton

    Usually, when lead singers of rock bands shout to the crowd “Are you feeling good?!” they don’t mean it in a holistic or spiritual way. But that might change at the Soulshine Tour Featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead, which hits Sunset Cove Amphitheater in Boca Raton on Tuesday.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category