Live-action Disney sequel Maleficent 2 has confirmed another cast member, with Aurora getting a new love interest in the shape of Harris Dickinson. The Trust actor will be playing the pivotal role of the prince in the Angelina Jolie starrer, and will be replacing Brenton Thwaites in the role. Although the full synopsis has yet to be revealed, his initial description casts a small amount of light on the direction that the film may take, and a link to the mysterious queen that Michelle Pfeiffer is expected to play.
Disney's live-action reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty saga has been a flagship project for the studio, with Maleficent grabbing over $758m worldwide at the box office. Part of this was due to the way it subverted the original tale, while part of it was due to Jolie's spirited portrayal of the wronged anti-villain who saves Princess Aurora from her own misguided curse. The sequel has been in development since 2015, but Jolie's return as the titular character was never assured until the actress confirmed it last year. Since that point, the production has ramped up and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 director Joachim Rønning was signed to helm the film. Elle Fanning is also due to reprise her role of Aurora, and Ed Skrein is to play the main villain.
One piece of casting that had yet to be announced was that of the expected Disney Prince. Prince Phillip was played by Thwaites in the first film, but the actor is now committed to the part of Robin in the DC streaming series Titans and could not return. Now Variety reports that in his place, Dickinson has signed to play the part of the prince and Aurora's romantic partner in the sequel.
At the moment it's not been verified if he is playing the same role of Phillip, or whether that coupling was doomed and Dickinson is playing a fresh character. As well as playing J. Paul Getty III in Trust, the English actor won awards for his portrayal of Frankie in the 2017 film Beach Rats, and will soon be seen in the sci-fi thriller The Darkest Minds.
One extra detail within the casting news is that Dickinson's prince will be the son of the Queen Ingris, who is expected to be played by Michelle Pfeiffer as she is currently in talks for the role. With the previous film ending with Aurora crowned the queen of the two kingdoms shown in the narrative, could their relationship be a forbidden one that incites a conflict with another rival kingdom? It's a possible way that Maleficent could be brought into the story to exert her magical powers, and frankly any excuse for Pfeiffer and Jolie to butt heads in near-pantomime roles is a welcome one.
The screenplay for the sequel was written by Linda Woolverton (who wrote the first Maleficent) and Spectre co-writer Jez Butterworth. So it's likely to contain battle sequences and a chance for Jolie to flex her fairy wings and destructive magic in a similar vein to the first one. Disney's ambitious plans for their live-action projects continues to march on, and this one looks set to perform strongly at the box office yet again.
Maleficent 2 does not yet have a confirmed release date. We’ll bring you more news as we get it.