Monday, January 5, 2015
Angelina Jolie smiles, leans forward and with her right index finger, gently tickles my left shoulder.
Brad Pitt can rest easy.
His bride's tickle, sadly for me, was nothing more than a demonstration of a game she played with the cast and crew of her World War II film Unbroken while on location in the rainforest of Queensland's Mount Tamborine and other Australian bush locations.
"People would come up and do that," Jolie laughs.
Many of Unbroken's international cast and crew were terrified of spiders and snakes and, of course, Australia for good reason has a reputation for its killer creepy crawlies.
To freak each other out, the Unbroken gang would sneak behind each other and give the little tickle to give the feeling of a spider.
"We had some good screams," Jolie says.
British actor Jack O'Connell was cast in Unbroken as the real life American Olympic athlete and war hero, Louis Zamperini.
After competing in front of Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Zamperini enlisted in the US Army's Air Forces and in 1943 his B-24 Liberator bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
He drifted for 47 days on a life raft before Japanese forces found him, tossed him in prisoner of war camps, and tortured and abused him until the war ended in 1945.
"Jack hates spiders," Jolie says.
That was a problem for O'Connell because a scene required him to be locked in a cell with a spider.
Jolie prescribed spider therapy for the Brit to prepare for the scene, first handing him small spiders and gradually larger ones.
"But, then when we shot the scene the spider crawled up the wall and got lost," Jolie says.
There were also fears uninvited guests could crawl or slither their way into O'Connell's cell built in a rainforest location.
Jolie, after all of the pranks, had some stern words for the still spider-snake shy O'Connell.
"I said to him very seriously, 'If there's a spider or a snake I didn't put it in. I'm not just being one of those crazy directors. Get out of the cell. It's probably an Australian spider or snake so just get out'," Jolie says.
"On that day too they told us about the plants, the wait-a-whiles.
"They said 'This one cuts into your skin and can make a grown man cry'."
For Jolie, who lobbied for months before convincing Universal Pictures she could direct the film, Zamperini's against-the-odds story was something she believed the world needed to see.
"Look around us today," Jolie says.
"We read the newspapers in the morning and there is so little to be hopeful about.
"Having been to so many of these post-conflict, or conflict, situations and after reading about Louis I was just feeling really at a place where I felt hopeful the strength of the individual spirit and the ability to be able to move forward as peoples together is possible.
"What's beautiful about Louis is he is a very flawed, very regular person, so he allows us to know that we all have the potential for greatness to rise up against whatever.
"We all have to remember that.
"If we feel too overwhelmed and think that's not possible, we will never get through these days we are living through now."
Unbroken opens in Australia on Thursday.
Posted by FussyKitty at 8:22 PM