Sunday, November 16, 2014




dailytelegraph(Au)

Entertainment

Angelina Jolie reveals she, Brad Pitt and their kids have fallen in love with Australia


When Angelina Jolie first decided she wanted to tell the story of American Olympian-turned-World War II hero Louis Zamperini on screen, she knew she had to do it in Australia. 
 
“The US shares this history with Australia,” says the actor-turned-director, sitting in an edit bay on the back-lot of Universal Studios in Los Angeles where she’s putting the finishing touches to Unbroken, the film based on Zamperini’s incredible life.
“We are connected in this particular moment in history, in such a strong way, so it was really special to be there. It felt right to be in Australia.”

On set ... Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie in the director’s chair on the se
On set ... Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie in the director’s chair on the set of Unbroken. Picture: Vince Valitutti

It is fitting then that the world premiere of the 39-year-old passion project will be in Sydney tomorrow night, ahead of a wider release in January.
Jolie has spent more than two years of her life immersed in Zamperini’s epic story of resilience — he survived two years in a Japanese POW camp after he had endured a plane crash in the Pacific and 47 days aboard a life raft.
Jolie, who came to Zamperini’s story via Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 bestseller, remembers reading the book while she was in Cambodia with her husband Brad Pitt and the couple’s six kids.
“I was halfway through Laura’s book, and I remember I sat up and I woke up everybody around me,” she says, smiling.

Special project ... Angelina Jolie dedicated years of her life to bringing the film Unbro
Special project ... Angelina Jolie dedicated years of her life to bringing the film Unbroken to life. Picture: Vince Valitutti
 
“It was like having this fever, and it wasn’t like when you want to make a film and you want to direct something — it was that I really, really wanted to trace his footsteps. I really, really wanted to learn what he learned, I wanted to go on this journey because I knew I’d be a better person for it, and my children would be better if they saw it.
“This story was what I wanted to dedicate years of my life to.”
Zamperini died in July of this year, just as Jolie was finishing the film.
“I took my laptop into his hospital room, and he was able to watch it,” she says. “I’m glad I was able to do that.”
The film is Jolie’s second directorial effort; she wrote and directed the 2011 film In the Land of Blood and Honey, which was set around the Bosnian conflict.


New experiences ... Unbroken is Jolie’s second time directing a major project. Picture: WireImage

Though she remembers that experience as being a baptism by fire, the experience of filming Unbroken in Australia took things to a whole other level in terms of sheer scale and budget.
“I gave myself such a big challenge because it was such a jump. Unbroken was just beyond anything I’d done. Even when I got the job, I think none of us anticipated how difficult it was going to be,” she says, adding that the film’s crew had to recreate everything from a plane crashing into the ocean, to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, to various POW camps.
“It was difficult for everybody in the best way. The Australian crew said to me that it was the hardest film they’d ever done because there were so many different worlds. But we all felt like we were doing it out of respect to the people who really lived through it, and we were doing service to them, so everybody had a great attitude, nobody complained. It was really nice.”
Moving story ... a still from Angelina Jolie’s directed film Unbroken. Picture: Universal
Moving story ... a still from Angelina Jolie’s directed film Unbroken. Picture: Universal Pictures
 
Jolie willingly admits that directing now gives her infinitely more satisfaction than acting does.
“You’re a part of it in such a complete way that you never feel as an actor — I certainly never did as an actor — and you make different choices. The films I act in probably aren’t films I’d ever want to direct,” she says, laughing. “It’s such a funny thing to realise; you know, certainly, I’d act in that, but I’d never want to direct that.”
She says her own experience as an actor gives her more scope to “protect” the performances of those she guides. On Unbroken, she was particularly impressed with rising Aussie star Jai Courtney who stars as an Australian fighter pilot in the film. Aussie actor Alex Russell also has a prominent role as Zamperini’s brother, Pete.

Moving story ... a still from Angelina Jolie’s directed film Unbroken. Picture: Universal
Moving story ... a still from Angelina Jolie’s directed film Unbroken. Picture: Universal Pictures
 
“Oh, I love Jai,” she says, animatedly. “Jai has such a great energy. When you bring a bunch of guys together, you really notice those who are the team leaders, and who rally everyone. They have great energy, and great humour, and a great masculinity, and he is one of those — he’s a man among men. He brought so much personality and humour, and as a person, he is naturally, so interesting and so masculine. He really feels like a man of that time — of the 1940s. But he was great to work with, and I hope to work with him again.”
When we speak, she’s also prepping her next film By The Sea, which she’ll direct and star in, opposite her husband.

Work-life balance ... Jolie is about to direct and star in the film By The Sea, alongside
Work-life balance ... Jolie is about to direct and star in the film By The Sea, alongside her husband Brad Pitt. Picture: Splash News
 
Asked about the challenges of directing Pitt on a movie set, she grins.
“I have yet to discover. We haven’t done it yet, but we shall see,” she laughs, “we shall see …”
For now, though, she’s looking forward to bringing the film “home” to Australia. Jolie says she now feels a great affiliation with our country, adding that the months the family spent in Australia had left an indelible mark on her children.
“The kids really did love it there. It’s such a wonderfully family-oriented country, so there was just so much for them to do. Shiloh and Pax, especially, are now serious surfers and skateboarders. They didn’t do that before and now they surf and skateboard all the time.”

Family time ... Angelina Jolie and kids on a shopping trip in Sydney during her stay here
Family time ... Angelina Jolie and kids on a shopping trip in Sydney during her stay here to direct the film Unbroken.
 
There were a few other firsts for the Jolie-Pitts during their Australian stay.
“We had an Australian Christmas,” she says, excitedly. “We had rented a place and we were just hanging out. It was the first time we had a BBQ for Christmas. Brad got on the barbie and worked it pretty well, I thought!”

Unbroken opens in cinemas across the country on January 15


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