INT: Angelina Jolie
have at last met one of the most, if not THE most desirable
Not to mention, shacking up with one of
In the upcoming drama THE GOOD SHEPHERD, the talented, award-winning Jolie takes on her latest challenge in portraying the lonely and isolated wife Clover, married to an unaffectionate, secretive CIA agent played by Matt Damon. Jolies heartbreaking performance of a victimized wife of a dishonest husband is so credible, it commands attention and empathy.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Brad Pitts gorgeous baby mama last week when she sat down to talk about her various humanitarian efforts, her almost nonexistent private life and the challenges of portraying a vulnerable woman in the upcoming star-studded film, THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
Can you talk about how being a mom in real life can be related to this film?
That was the one thing that kept me grounded for her and connected to her. There was so much about her I didnt identify with, but her love and commitment to her son and certainly having lost her own family to this world of CIA and now her husband and the fear that her son would get involved in this kind of dangerous silent world and that becoming a reality and how that would feel; so yeah, that would seem in particular, fighting for him was very personal.
Can you imagine sitting back and not saying anything if that were your own child?
No. So much of that film was a study in that kind of restraint because I live in a times, we all do, as a woman I can say, Im leaving, Im getting a divorce, you tell me whats going on, or even speaking at a man thats much harsher without it being the ugliest thing in the world and she had to maintain a certain type of composure, quiet decency, just settle into that life, and it was that time and the CIA, the idea of getting out was impossible as a woman, so it was very hard because everything instantly in me was...
How hard was it to play a rejected, unloved wife?
Well, I do have two divorces. (Laughs) But Im still good friends with them, so its ok. I guess it was so much I think its easier to play that kind of stuff when you do have a balanced home; because I think if I did have alcoholism in my personal life, or my mother, or somebody close to me, if I had that experience, it might have been much more uncomfortable to get in there; and that kind of relationship with a man, Ive never had that in my life because Ive always married artists so they are always very talkative. Its an expressive bunch. It was bizarre, but I think that was kind part of the character, which is interesting because she did feel lost and she did feel trapped and confused and so did I as well.
You usually play various strong roles, so what was it about this character that was attractive to you?
I do see her in the end as being as strong as a woman could be at that time, but I did like that there were already things about her that were broken and often I dont get to play that part and thats why it took a while for Bob (De Niro), for us to decide that I should play that part because she is much more subservient, and more vulnerable and she is very broken; and as an actress, its a great challenge. As a woman, as much as Im certain in my life, I could feel strong about this. There are pieces that are broken.
Did you have to prove to Bob (De Niro) that you could play that person?
I think he needed to understand that I really knew her and my intentions for I would play her were accurate. Hes very specific and to every detail of this film, hes aware of it. He cares about it, and so I think Im a very modern woman. Even in the beginning shes very light and silly and in a way that I dont usually portray either, so a lot about her was not something that he could obviously see that I was capable of doing. So I think he had to know that I understood her and so we talked about it a lot to make sure he did.
He did (Robert De Niro) say you connected with her.
Yeah. I think that kind of feeling alone I didnt necessarily feel that in a marriage per se, but in my life Ive often felt shes surrounded by a lot of people that there are a lot of secrets, a lot of quiet, a lot of people just accepting, and as much as shes broken and shes that person, shes also the only person that is desperate to scream out and to try to get some reaction, something honest, and I found that in my life a lot. I tend to want to be that person that I cant tolerate and it would break me. I would start drinking something terrible. If I was in a situation where I was surrounded by lies or quiet or secrets, its just not a real life.
Do you think that self-deception is necessary in a relationship of the character or in general?
No, I think that quite the opposite is the only thing that works. I dont want to spend my life having to pretend to be someone else; and I dont want the person next to me to have to pretend ever because we have a long life ahead of us. You want to just be whoever you are in every moment and thats the only way youll ever be truly happy anyway.
My favorite Angelina Jolie rumor thats not true is that Frank Miller wants you to be in Sin City 2. Have you been in talks with him about it?
We talked about it and I read the comic. I don't think the film is being made at this moment. When it's actually going to be made I'm sure we'll talk about it. It was a funny thing, because the idea came to me when I was pregnant, and so it was this idea... I've been Clover (in 'The Good Shepherd'), depressed and quiet, and then I was feeling very maternal, pregnant. It was this idea of this sexy, violent and loud (character), and I thought maybe after I'm pregnant it would be nice to do. (Laughs) But it didnt come at that time and were still talking about it.
Do you know when it might shoot?
I dont know when it might go and if I have time when it does, but I think they are very interesting projects and I like the comics and I love him as a director so its possibility.
Youve done a lot of humanitarian work through developing countries where the CIA has been there to operate behind the scenes. Have you experienced any direct or indirect activity in terms of political structure that you worked to include your humanitarian work?
Thats such a huge question. Ive never been clearly aware of something specific but I think certainly Ive witnessed our foreign policy and Ive witnessed the change in the perception of Americas foreign policy in the last few years. Every trip I take the field has been different because of the changes we have made and Im sure the CIA has had a hand in that.
What are the changes?
To be completely honest, I think about five years ago when I started traveling and I would say I was American, everybody was very, very excited. Thought it was the greatest thing in the world, and now you feel cautious. You feel that people are a bit not so joyful about that. Theyre questioning my country and people would say things like, Its extraordinary that youre here. Youre American and thats not true of the American people. American people are very caring, generous people. Thats been proven with all the individual household has done abroad and the charity they do and who we are as a people, but its not what our government has represented in the last few years. Its been difficult to go places abroad and just see I think we know exactly what Im saying.
Its been said that Matt actually got to spend time with CIA families. Did you do any of the same to see how these families function?
I didnt because most of the people that they could all talk to were really the men and the CIA and the women like Clover were kind of absent or had been quieted or had moved to Arizona. One of them did actually. Thats actually a true story. Somebodys living there now. Shes based on a few people. It was almost impossible to talk to the women and I think in reality the women knew so little. There would be very little to talk about. My choice was really to talk to nobody, really understand nothing, and be trapped in this world where sometimes De Niros character would come in and I hadnt focused on exactly who he was in the script and exactly what he did and I didnt do my research on it. I wasnt really sure who he was and I just stayed in the dark.
Can you an update on the Ayn Rand project? Whats your interest in it?
I think its a wonderful book. Im a fan of her writing. I think its an amazing project. Its a controversial and complicated project. I think it needs to be done right. Theres been a lot of talk as to how that can be. One of the important reasons for making it is that there are a lot of great people involved. Its being written now, so well see, as the script comes out, how close we are to possibly making it. Everybody involved, and the producers, all sat down at the table and we all agreed that if we couldnt do it right and we couldnt do it justice; if along the way, any one piece didnt come together, the right director, the right script, we would all just fold it and not do it. So, thats where we are at now. Were taking it step by step and were going to make damned sure that its done right.
What do you think are the important reasons for doing it?
I dont know if we should get into that now. Its too complicated to get into because the discussion of that project, her misconceptions about her, different interpretations about her, that script, it is a huge subject; so I would be tentative to speak lightly about it.
With your social activism taking up so much of your life, has it changed what kinds of roles you want to do? Do you see parts from a political perspective first and what type of statement youll make about women in the world or can you just sort of have fun?
I think its important to just have fun and not take everything so, so seriously because I think theres a big room for entertainment in this world. Thats most of the movies I go to with my kids. Its part of what we do. Im not a politician. I am just an actor and Im supposed to just entertain and tell stories, so I remember that. Certainly when a film project comes along like this one or A Mighty Heart, the Mariane Pearl story, there are the ones that a priority in my life and the ones I enjoy more in a different way and a very different experience. The thing right now that makes the big choice is how long is it shooting because I dont think I have shot more than seven weeks on a movie in two years. I need to make sure I have time with my kids.
Will you work with Brad (Pitt) again?
Whos going to watch the children? (Laughs)
Besides your work in Cambodia, are there things you want to see happen, on the film side or anything else?
I will continue to work with refugees and I will never shift focus from them because I think its important and it is where my heart lies. Cambodia - we just went back there and its changed so much in recent years. Its now Millennium Village that Brad and I are supporting. It is also 148,000 acres of protected forest and its also many, many villages and its a huge, huge project, which is not what I had intended, but its wonderful and Im learning a lot.
Were involved in many things and I with Brads work in New Orleans were trying to make sure that we stay focus. Our temptation is that we hear something is going on somewhere and we want to get involved. Were working together on AIDS work and passing some legislation for them on their behalf because theres nobody actually fighting for them and we put together a group of people who do exactly that. For Zahara, we want to do something in Ethiopia. Weve been supporting an orphanage there but I think we can figure out something specific just so Maddox can take over his project and we want her to take over hers, so we want to figure out what that is.
Does that prompt cinematic things as a result?
Sometimes it does. I think to be honest I am interested in the art coming out of different countries and Im starting to learn about different directors. Cambodia is having a big art splurge now and they are having new posters for their movies, which they never had until a few years ago. Im fascinated by supporting local artists which Im sure will be little projects that will not make it here anytime soon, but well start to get to know their stories. When we were in India, we talked to people in Pakistan and about their favorite plays, their favorite pieces of literature, etc.
How did it feel to see yourself aged through the film and if you thought about aging gracefully in real life?
Well, my mom is aging gracefully and if Im anything like my mother - shes lovely. I love age on a face. In this business theres not a lot of leverage for the way people have an opinion about how people should look, but I personally love it and I love to age in movies. I love to see my face old in different ways. Theres something very comforting about feeling yourself as an older woman. When you get to that point, you would have earned so many different things and be roaded in so many ways that there seems so sort of comfort to it.
But Clover was a little different because hopefully I will not break apart as she did because we had these big yellow contacts and yellow teeth and you may have not noticed it, but I was affected by it. I had the alcohol age, and if you look closely at her, there were some broken capillaries and a lot of yellow. Hopefully I wont have to look in a mirror and look like this. This is what I will look like if I start drinking. (Laughs)
You are a very engaging, connecting kind of person. Youre living in a world where youre not sure who you can trust where you are being spied on as a celebrity. How does it affect you where everything you do, your kids, or Brad, makes news? How does that change the way you live your life?
I made a point to not let it change the way I live my life. I carefully plan my holidays or where we go or where we stay or things like that to try to ensure some quality of life thats private and nice for the kids. We simply dont let it affect us. The only time it is hard is when the kids want to go somewhere. Ive had so many offers to take my children to Disneyland and places that I cant take them and they dont understand how upsetting that is. Taking my kids trick or treating or things they assume I cant do, so we plan to find ways to do all of those things. There are worse problems, so were okay.
Did you have a costume for Halloween?
I had a mix of odd masks and things. This year we were in India and we had this odd celebration in the hotel. We had candy and costumes sent up from the states. Z (Zahara) had a really big afro and Mad (Maddox) had dreadlocks. We were trying to explain what that was and we had fun playing dress-up.
How do you juggle everything?
I plan a lot, obsessively. Im very lucky. I love the different elements of my life. I love working abroad and I love being with my kids and I love being with Brad. This is the life I chose to have and I would to love to add many more children and many more obstacles.
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