CS Interview: Maleficent 2’s Harris Dickinson on Playing a Disney Prince
Walt Disney Pictures provided ComingSoon.net with the chance to sit down with actor Harris Dickinson, who plays Prince Phillip in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, who excitedly shared his favorite things about being a Disney Prince, what it was like getting to work with the film’s ensemble and how director Joachim Rønning was able to create real landscapes that made it easy for him to immerse himself in the role.
In Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Aurora (Elle Fanning) and Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) decide to marry and leave their royal nests–which doesn’t sit too well with either set of parents. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is cautious about Phillip’s intentions and Phillip’s mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) raises concerns about Maleficent’s influence over Aurora–the kingdoms give to dark forces at play. Maleficent is still seen as a dark and dangerous foe to humans but when unexpected allies come forward to help her, the fate of the land is in her hands as an insidiously veiled threat rises.
ComingSoon.net: The film opens with Phillip proposing to Aurora which sets in motion the inevitable meeting between their parents. Can you talk about what it was like jumping into the story and what appealed the most to you about its world?
Harris Dickinson: So many things, not only the incredible cast and people I get to work with. There are not many chances to be a Disney Prince and to have that level of regality, the costume, and the script. So many things!
CS: What I like about this Prince Phillip is that we get to see him actively participate in a different way than being the hero in the animated film. What did you like about playing a Phillip whose motivations are so rooted in his love for Aurora and supporting her aspirations?
Dickinson: It’s a good point. You know his love for Aurora is so solely that but it’s also about uniting two worlds. I think that is quite a powerful thing that he lives for and it’s going against the grain of what it means to be a prince in a kingdom and what ruling it together with Aurora would look like in a certain way. It’s an important message and it was fun and interesting to do that.
CS: There were so many sweeping scenes with you and Elle (Fanning) like the film’s opening to the quieter moments between the two characters where you could see that. Even in the dinner scene where they introduce his parents to Maleficent–which was a week-long shoot?
Dickinson: There are so many different elements to it so it took a while. That was a really good week, for me I didn’t have loads of lines in there as well soI just got to watch. I was in the scene but I had to remind myself a few times that I had to be present and had a line coming up. It was so amazing watching Angelina and Michelle sort of go head to head like that. It was so focused and so concise with everything they did so it was really impressive to watch. It was fun–Sam (Riley) kept throwing grapes at me and after the fourth day because I think he was getting a bit restless we just started having a little mini-food fight without anyone realizing–not professional!
CS: Was it great to see the performances around you while you weren’t being shot in frame?
Dickinson: Yeah definitely and everyone as well, not just those I was with. I didn’t work with Chiwetel (Ejiofor) or Ed (Skrein) very much but even seeing what those guys did and seeing what everyone around me did was a learning curve. It was a treat for me to see that and how they sculpted their performance. It was really cool?
CS: When it came to building the relationship Phillip had with his mother and father and standing up for what he wanted, did you bring any experiences to your performance to inform those moments or did you build them with your co-stars?
Dickinson: I think it wasn’t necessarily with my parents but just in life in general. I’m 23 and I’ve got to deal with certain things in my life that aren’t always pleasant and you have to learn how to have a voice. You have to learn how to stand up for yourself so I definitely related to that. It says a lot about risk as well you know. I like to think of Phillip as someone who is brave and someone who likes to push the envelope on tradition as well. It takes a lot to do that. Aurora is the real brave one.
CS: I loved how y’all operated as a team. So when Phillip decides to make a move to propose and you’ve got this gorgeous setting surrounding you, was it easy to get into the headspace of the magical moment that was unfolding?
Dickinson: That was my first scene, the proposal. I remember walking into this massive studio and they had created everything. Real grass, real trees and a real stream running through it and I just sort of thought, this is mad! I didn’t expect this level of reality. We were talking about it. None of us really had to pretend too much. It was all there and it was all credit to Patrick the set designer and Joachim the director for creating these worlds that were so meticulous and prevalent. You sort of got used to it after a while. My family came to set as well and they were like Oh my god. My nieces visited one day and they got to see a scene with me and Elle. They didn’t really care about me, they wanted to meet Elle and they loved it.
CS: As far as Disney films go, what were your favorites growing up?
Dickinson: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid. I used to work at a Youth Theater and I worked on directing a variation of Beauty and the Beast.
Maleficent Mistress of Evil opens this Friday!