Five-year-old Vivienne Jolie-Pitt pretty much stumbled into a plum role in Disney's upcoming live action film "Maleficent."
And while her mom Angelina Jolie, who stars in the film, had a lot to do with it, sheer nepotism wasn't the reason.
Jolie appeared before a shocked crowd at Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, on Saturday to introduce new footage from the film, and was greeted by a standing ovation. And onstage, Jolie revealed why daughter Vivienne was cast: because she was the only kid on the film set who wasn't frightened of Jolie while in full costume as the evil Maleficent — horns and all.
[Related: Angelina Jolie is Maleficent (first photo)]
In the film Vivienne plays the young Aurora (with the older version played by Elle Fanning).
"Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite. I was terrified of her, but I was always drawn to her," Jolie told the crowd, adding that it was her brother (James Haven, who was her date to the 2000 Oscars) who first urged her to take the role. "She had this elegance and this grace, and yet she was so cruel — just wonderfully and deliciously cruel."
The film is an origins story, and Disney's presentation illuminated just what sets it apart from the more traditional tale of "Sleeping Beauty" we all know. "We initially meet Maleficent as a teenage fairy and how she's betrayed," said Disney's live action head executive Sean Bailey.
The footage seen at D23 on Saturday was of Maleficent casting a spell on Aurora.
"Maleficent" casts it spell on theaters starting July 2, 2014.