Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Finding Reality in Fantasy

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Finding Reality in Fantasy

Article excerpt

Byline: James Wigney Screen editor

Ed SKREIN has never played a part quite as fantastical as in his new blockbuster Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil.

For his role as the dark fairy Borra in the sequel to Angelina Jolie's billion-dollar 2014 hit, the UK rapper turned actor sports wings, horns and claws as he flies and fights in a quest for war and vengeance.

But strange as he knows it may sound, Skrein insists there is a serious side to the Disney blockbuster, and hopes it will start conversations between parents and their children about "togetherness, cultural diversity and inclusion".

"It felt very real and very grounded," he says on the phone from LA, "which is a funny thing to say when I have wings and horns and exist in this fantasy world." London-born and raised Skrein has continued the great Hollywood tradition of British villains in recent years, thanks to scenery-chewing turns opposite Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool and the cyborg bounty hunter Zapan in this year's Alita: Battle Angel.

But, as much he says he's always someone who cheers for the antihero - "Joe Pesci in Casino is always going to be the character that I am most drawn to and interested by" - he's loath to lump Borra in with those out-and-out villains. He's not all bad, Skrein says - he's just scared and misunderstood.

"I have played a lot of bad guys and villains in my time but I don't think he would be described as a bad guy or as a villain," he says. "However I think he would be described as an antagonist, which is an interesting, delicate fine line. He's someone who is operating from a position of fear." Which is where Skrein's assertion that the fantasy film has real world implications and inspiration comes in - his character firmly believes he is doing the right thing for his oppressed and shunned people, just as the humans led by Michelle Pfeiffer's icy queen believes she is serving hers by wanting to exterminate the dark fairies.

"It echoes some of the troubling realities that we are seeing worldwide from the global refugee crisis to the closing of the borders in America and the rise of nationalism all around the world and this fear of otherness. …

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