Angelina Jolie
Credit: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

When someone says: You would be perfect to play one of the cruelest fantasy villains of all time — is that a compliment or an insult?

In the case of Disney’s Maleficent (out May 30), the whole world pretty much agreed Angelina Jolie should play the black-horned bad-girl. “It is really funny when people say you’d be obvious for a great villain,” she says with a laugh (not a cackle).

In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, the actress gives her first in-depth interview about Disney’s revisionist take on Sleeping Beauty, which retells the classic folk tale from the wicked point-of-view. “The exercise wasn’t how can we have fun with a villain?” Jolie says. “It was: What turns people evil and vile and aggressive and cruel? What could have possibly happened to her?”

In the wide-ranging conversation with EW’s Anthony Breznican, Jolie also discusses Unbroken, the true-life tale of World War II heroism that she directed and is currently editing, and addresses the cancer worries that led her to undergo a preventative double mastectomy last year — penning a New York Times op-ed afterward about the experience, hoping to inspire and encourage others facing such a choice.

“Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women’s issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer. I’ve talked to men about their daughters’ and wives’ health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost their parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children,” she says. “I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people.”

The new issue also includes EW’s Oscar coverage, with our report on the show behind the show — all the drama that took place just offstage in the wings of the Dolby Theatre as the presenters went on and the winners came off. Plus: “Burning Questions” from the show, the best and worst of red carpet fashions, and behind-the-scenes shots from rehearsals leading up to the ceremony.

For all these stories and more, pick up the new issue of EW, on stands Friday, March 7.