The two reunite for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, out Friday, with Fanning’s Aurora all grown up and facing different problems than she did as a younger child in the 2014 original. And just like the movie, Fanning, 21, says her relationship with Jolie, 44, changed now that she’s in her twenties.
“I’m older, and the things we can talk about now are different,” Fanning tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “I feel like I can ask her anything—and I have!”
“Watching her is so inspiring,” Fanning adds. “As a person, she has a such a strength in her convictions. She really stands up for what she feels is right and will protect you at all costs. I’ve truly seen that — her nurturing and protective instincts. It’s so beautiful.”
The feeling is mutual, with Jolie opening up to PEOPLE about the special place Fanning has carved in her life.
“The first moment she ever saw me, she was 14 and she ran up and gave me the biggest hug. Elle was the sweetest. Nothing about me intimidated her,” Jolie recalls of their first meeting. “I’ll always feel close to Elle. She knows I’m goofy. I know she has great strength.”
The duo also bonded off-set with Jolie’s six kids — Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne — who came along while their mom shot the film in London. And their offscreen activities could get a little intense, including a paintball outing where Jolie was much better than Fanning.
“Probably not Disney-approved, because we could have gotten injured!” Fanning jokes. “We had welts on our legs. I’d never gone paintballing before. Angelina does it a lot. She was good. I was trying. I hit her security guard in the neck. And he was on my team!”
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is out Friday.