Chiwetel Ejiofor is reportedly circling a key role in Disney's live-action fairy tale movie sequel, Maleficent 2. The Maleficent sequel first entered development back in 2015, but didn't really pick up speed until Angelina Jolie confirmed her return as the eponymous character late last summer. Things appear to be rolling along at a steady pace now, with Maleficent 2 having added Ed Skrein (Deadpool), Harris Dickinson (Trust), and Michelle Pfeiffer to its cast over the last month alone.
The original Maleficent hit theaters in 2014 and goes further in re-imagining its animated predecessor (Disney's animated Sleeping Beauty movie) than other Disney live-action retellings have so far. Maleficent takes a leaf out of Wicked's playbook and explores the fairy tale that inspired it from the perspective of its villain, revealing their backstory and painting them in a more sympathetic light in the process. Critics were mixed on how successful the film is in its efforts, but the movie clearly struck a chord with audiences - as evidenced by its $759 million worldwide gross at the box office.
Disney is thus moving forward with Maleficent 2 and has Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) attached to direct the sequel, based on a script by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow) and Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton. THS is reporting that Ejiofor is in talks to join the film and play a romantic foil to Jolie as Maleficent. Chiwetel's character is believed to be one of several new players in the sequel, along with the presumed-to-be human queen that Pfeiffer is playing and Skrein as the film's as-yet unknown villain.
Although nothing is confirmed yet, it's not difficult to believe that Ejiofor is in talks to join the Maleficent sequel cast. He already plays Baron Mordo in Disney and Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange movies, and he's voicing Scar in director Jon Favreau's upcoming CGI retelling of the Mouse House classic, The Lion King. Ejiofor is clearly comfortable working on Disney films, in other words, and the prospect of getting to reunite with Jolie (whom Ejifor previously starred opposite in the thriller Salt) probably makes Maleficent 2 all the more enticing to him.
It also makes sense for Maleficent 2 to give the eponymous character a new love interest. The original film portrays Maleficent as a victim of literal physical assault (and metaphorical sexual assault) who thereafter struggles to connect emotionally with anyone. Although Maleficent had begun to heal her spirit by forming a maternal bond with the young Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning, also back for the sequel) by the movie's end, romantic love is almost certainly going to be a challenge for her still by the time the sequel picks up. The romantic dynamic between Ejiofor's character and Jolie as Maleficent should be all the more complicated (and thus, interesting) for it.
Maleficent 2 doesn't have a release date yet. We will let you know when that changes.