By Sarah Thomas - The Sydney Morning Herald.Nov. 18, 2014, 6:30 a.m
It was certainly the mark of a dutiful husband.
As the A-list spectacular of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hit the Sydney streets to launch her second directorial feature Unbroken, Pitt spent over an hour keeping fans occupied by posing for a multitude of selfies while Jolie traversed the media throng on the red carpet.
Rush hour commuters leaving the CBD on Monday were almost certainly not quite as excited to see two of Hollywood's biggest names arrive, as thousands of fans lined up outside the State Theatre on Market Street.
But as Jolie, in an elegant fish-tailed lace gown, worked a long line of journalists and cameras, a shades-bearing Pitt spent the time meeting and greeting fans standing behind barriers on the opposite side of the street and obliging them with countless selfies.
Unbroken, which opens in Australia January 15 and December 25 in the US, received its world premiere in Sydney after being shot across Australia last year at locations including at Cockatoo Island, Tamworth, Bankstown and the Gold Coast.
Jolie described how the film is very much a family affair for the Jolie-Pitt clan, with their children close to the film's subject Louis Zamperini, the Olympian and Japanese prisoner-of-war survivor who died in July at age 97.
Shiloh, the couple's eight-year-old daughter, in particular was deeply linked, said Jolie, adding that the youngster attended Zamperini's funeral.
"Shiloh is very connected emotionally to him," she said. "She wants to see it most of all. They're all very, very emotional about the story, and I look forward to them seeing it because I think it's very good for children. I think it's got some good messages in it."
The subject matter – centred around Zamperini's experience from his early years as a new Italian immigrant in the US, to his athletics career as a long-distance runner and then service during the Second World War and his internment at a Japanese POW camp near Tokyo – may not be obvious material for children, but Jolie says the messages have much to teach kids, particularly from his early years.
"Louis gets picked on because he's little, he feels different, he's an Italian immigrant that gets beaten up for speaking different language. He's stealing, smoking, drinking – he's doing everything wrong. And he feels like he's worth absolutely nothing, and I know there's a lot of kids out there that feel like there's nothing special about me, and what am I worth and what can I do? And so they'll identify with Louis and through the film they will realise that they too can become great people through certain choices."
Jolie said she was drawn to Zamperini's story because she loved the themes of his inspiring story of survival. "I wanted to understand more about Louis, but I didn't realise how much I needed it, how much I needed to know him, how much he would change my life. He became one of my best friends, one of the closest people to me and really made me think differently about life and how to survive things, and how to raise my children."
She added Sydney was an appropriate venue for the premiere because of the "shared history" with the US and Australia and also as thank you to the "extraordinary group of people that were our team-mates on this".
Jolie and Pitt are currently filming what will be her third outing as a director, By the Sea which she has also written, about a married couple travelling across Europe in the 1970s.
She said the demands of working together were offset by their six children. "You know, we wake up taking care of the same kids, making sure that everyone's had breakfast and brushed their teeth so by the time we get to work, we're nicely grounded and focused on what's important, Then we work hard and the work is very emotional and heavy but at the same time we've got to return to those same kids and tell them a bedtime story, so they kept us straight through the whole thing."
The pair, who married in August, didn't feel like they needed to get hitched, Jolie said, but she added: "We just feel that much closer, it makes us happy to be married."