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How They Made Maleficent’s Horns

November 04, 2014

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Maleficent is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, and Kidzworld got to chat with Justin Smith, the man who made her horns. If you didn’t dress as Maleficent for Halloween, we’re pretty sure you know someone who did. Maybe they even made the horns themselves. We asked Smith about how he did it. Check it out!

They Went Back to Sleeping Beauty for Inspiration

Smith told us that he started out in the Disney Archives, studying the animated Disney film Sleeping Beauty, where we all first saw Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). “When I started on the movie it was quite late in the game because there was already the prosthetics in place, there was already her makeup, they had already designed her contact lenses, and quite a lot of the costume was already underway,” he said. “My job was to understand all of that, as well as the character, and what Angelina wanted me to know about the character. Then I took all that and put it together so I could add the horns to an already iconic look. And the look changed throughout the movie … I had to make sure we could create the silhouette of the character we already know and love from the wonderful animation.

This is the original animated Maleficent that we all know and … love?This is the original animated Maleficent that we all know and … love?Courtesy of Disney

Horns For Every Season

Smith told us that he had to design a number of looks and horn wraps, including a summer look that is wrapped in python skin, the Christening scene, “which is a leather turban with leather-covered horns, a spring look with a narrow strip of leather sewn together, which is heavily lacquered and painted” and a stingray head wrap with leather on the side, which you can see below.

Maleficent’s horns are wrapped with the skin of a stingray hereMaleficent’s horns are wrapped with the skin of a stingray hereCourtesy of Disney

Leather, Python and Stingray Horn Wraps

Smith told us about the way they’re constructed, which is pretty complicated. “The way in which they’re made starts with kind of a felt base, kind of like a felt hat, a normal hat, so we created a silhouette shape that looked kind of like a nappie (cloth diaper),” he told us. “It went around the horns, which were on a plastic base that came off the top of the head. Then on top of that, I would start to build the outside layers, depending on which look we were going for. Some were leather, some were fabric, and others were exotic things like python skin, snake skin… Various different skins that worked in the natural ways in which skins want to behave. So the construction process is lots of building up of lots of layers until you get to the final one which is the one you see.”

Fancy summer horn wraps, because you have to be in fashion!Fancy summer horn wraps, because you have to be in fashion!Courtesy of Disney

You’ve Got to Have Glamorous Horns!

Smith told us that this was an amazing process. “What we were trying to create, especially with leather. In the end of the movie in the battle scene, you can see that there was black leather going around the horns, which respected the original lines of the ‘50s animation. We knew in the background that we had to love and respect what everybody already knew was Maleficent. We didn’t want to take away from that so much that people didn’t believe it was really her at that point. So that was a very important starting point, but we also had to modernize her and make her couture, more glamorous, more gorgeous; and it had to be in a contemporary way. It was about trying to push the boundaries of that while also respecting where Maleficent came from, as well as what Angelina wanted to say about the character.”

Leather wrapped horns from the Christening sceneLeather wrapped horns from the Christening sceneCourtesy of Disney

Angelina Jolie Could Take Off Her Horns Because of Magnets

Smith told us that the horns were very light, because Angelina Jolie was often flying through the air. They were also magnetic, so she could take them off. We asked him how many pairs there were. “There were seven total in the movie,” he said, “but for every one of those, there was three or four, and sometimes even five, examples. The whole time I was filming, which was about thirteen weeks, we kept playing with the design, but there were seven final ones.”

Maleficent casting a spellMaleficent casting a spellCourtesy of Disney

Have Your Say

Did you love the way Maleficent looked in the film? Did you dress up as Maleficent for Halloween? Have you gone back to watch the original Sleeping Beauty? We want to hear from you!

Maleficent Trailer