When it comes to playing characters, actors have any number of resources to pull from to nail the mannerisms, look, and voice of the roles they're portraying. For Sam Riley, who plays the shapeshifting raven Diaval in the new film "Maleficent," that meant spending a lot of time alone with a bird. 

"They brought in this bird, and a raven is big," he told Collider. "It’s not a crow. It hopped on the table and did its thing and made himself completely at home. I filmed him and watched him for a few hours. I had a movement coach, so we studied him together. And then, we started trying to mimic him. I even ran around the room with my arms flapping, at one point."
While one would expect such a devotion to the craft to wind up on the extras of a DVD, Riley was adamant from the start that no one was allowed to film him. 
"They wanted to film me rehearsing it, which I flat out refused to allow, because I didn’t want everyone to ever see it," he said.  "I don’t ever want to see myself doing that."

The 34-year-old British actor added that the entire process gave him a newfound respect for ravens. 

"They’re incredible. When the trainer gave him a treat, he was happy with himself and puffed himself up," he said. "I didn’t really do a walk like him, but it was all in the back of my head, and maybe it comes out in other ways. But, I stole bits of his manner. I thought he was quite vain."

Check out a trailer for 'Maleficent' below. 

Related on MNN: Angelina Jolie used yoga to soar in 'Maleficent'

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

How ravens helped 'Maleficent's' Sam Riley embrace his role
Actor, who plays a shapeshifting raven, studied the birds alone for hours.