THE GOOD SHEPHERD
An Interview with Angelina Jolie
|(December: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Screenings * Teen ) Current Issue * Archive|
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
December 20, 2006
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been some time since Angelina Jolie was on the big screen, and it’s seems funny to say that considering that she’s been in the news almost every month since her last film, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”. Not only she did star in the film with Brad Pitt, she would later become his off-screen partner and mother of his child. With three kids, two being adopted, Jolie looks at life differently now. Ironically, who knew that her next film would be another spy caper, but where she would play a supportive role to Matt Damon. In “The Good Shepherd”, Jolie plays Margaret “Clover” Russell, wife of Edward Wilson, one of the key figures of CIA. At a recent press conference in New York, Jolie talks about her character, her life as a mother, and her life with Brad Pitt.
Angelina Jolie: That was the one thing that kept me grounded to her and connected to her. There was so much about her I didn’t 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?
AJ: 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, “I’m leaving, I’m getting a divorce, you tell me what’s going on”, or even speaking at a man that’s 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?
AJ: Well, I do have two divorces. (Laughs) But I’m still good friends with them, so it’s ok. I guess it was so much … I think it’s easier to play that kind of stuff when you do have a balance home; because I think if I did have alcoholism in my personal life, or my mother, or somebody close to me, if I did that experience, it might have been much more uncomfortable to get in there; and that kind of relationship with a man, I’ve never had that in my life because I’ve always married artists so they are always very talkative. It’s 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 I did as well.
You usually play various strong roles, so what was it about this character that was attractive to you?
AJ: 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 don’t get to play that part and that’s why it took a while for Bob (De Niro), for us to decide that I should play that part because she is much subservient, and more vulnerable and she is very broken; and as actress, it’s a great challenge. As a woman, as much as 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?
AJ: I think he needed to understand that I really knew her and my intentions for I would play her were accurate. He’s very specific and to every detail of this film, he’s aware of it. He cares about it, and so I think I’m a very modern woman. Even in the beginning she’s very light and silly and in a way that I don’t 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.
AJ: Yeah. I think that kind of feeling alone I didn’t necessarily feel that in a marriage per se, but in my life I’ve often felt… she’s 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 she broken and she’s that person, she’s 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 can’t 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, it’s just not a real life.
Do you think that self deception is necessary in a relationship? In the relationship of the character or in general?
AJ: No, I think that quite the opposite is the only thing that works. I don’t want to spend my life having to pretend to be someone else; and I don’t 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 that’s the only way you’ll ever be truly happy anyway.
My favorite Angelina Jolie rumor that’s not true is that Frank Miller wants you to be in Sin City 2. Have you been in talks with him about it?
AJ: 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 didn’t come at that time and we’re still talking about it.
Do you know when it might shoot?
AJ: I don’t know when it might go and if I have time when it does, but I think there are very interesting projects and I like the comics and I love him as a director so it’s possibility.
You’ve 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?
AJ: That’s such a huge question. I’ve never been clearly aware of something specific but I think certainly I’ve witnessed our foreign policy and I’ve witnessed the change in the perception of America’s foreign policy in the last few years. Every trip I take the field has been different because of the changes we have made and I’m sure the CIA has had a hand in that.
What are the changes?
AJ: 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. They’re questioning my country and people would say things like, “It’s extraordinary that you’re here. You’re American” and that’s not to the American people. American people are very caring, generous people. That’s been proven with all the individual household has done abroad and the charity they do and who we are as a people, but it’s not what our government has represented in the last few years. It’s been difficult to go places abroad and just see… I think we know exactly what I’m saying.
It’s 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?
AJ: I didn’t 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. That’s actually a true story. Somebody’s living there now. She’s 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 Niro’s character would come in and I hadn’t focused on exactly who he was in the script and exactly what he did and I didn’t do my research on it. I wasn’t really sure who he was and I just stayed in the dark.
Can you an update on the Ayn Rand project? What’s your interest in it?
AJ: I think it’s a wonderful book. I’m a fan of her writing. I think it’s an amazing project. It’s a controversial and complicated project. I think it needs to be done right. There’s 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. It’s being written now, so we’ll 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 couldn’t do it right and we couldn’t do it justice; if along the way, any one piece didn’t come together, the right director, the right script, we would all just fold it and not do it. So, that’s where we are at now. We’re taking it step by step and we’re going to make damned sure that it’s done right.
What do you think are the important reasons for doing it?
AJ: I don’t know if we should get into that now. It’s 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 so much of life, has it changed what kind of roles you want to do? Do you see parts from a political perspective first and what type of statement you’ll make about women in the world or can you just sort of have fun?
AJ: I think it’s important to just have fun and not take everything so, so seriously because I think there’s a big room for entertainment in this world. That’s most of the movies I go to with my kids. It’s part of what we do. I’m not a politician. I am just an actor and I’m 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 don’t 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?
AJ: Who’s 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?
AJ: I will continue to work with refugees and I will never shift focus from them because I thin it’s important and it is where my heart lies. Cambodia, we just went back there and it’s change so much in recent years, it’s now Millennium Village that Brad and I are supporting. It is also 148,000 acres of protected forest and it’s also many, many villages and it’s a huge, huge project, which is not what I had intended, but it’s wonderful and I’m learning a lot. We’re involved in many things and I think Brad’s work in New Orleans and we’re 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. We’re working together on AIDS work and passing some legislation for them on their behalf because there’s 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. We’ve 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?
AJ: Sometimes it does. I think to be honest I am interested in the art coming out of different countries and I’m 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. I fascinated by supporting local artists which I sure will be little projects that will not make it here anytime soon, but we’ll 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?
AJ: Well, my mom is aging gracefully and if I’m anything like my mother, she’s lovely. I love age on a face. In this business there’s 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. There’s 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 won’t 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. You’re living in a world where you’re 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?
AJ: 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 that’s private and nice for the kids. We simply don’t let it affect us. The only time it is hard is when the kids want to somewhere. I’ve had so many offers to take my children to Disneyland and places that I can’t take them and they don’t understand how upsetting that is. Taking my kids trick or treating or things they assume I can’t do, so we plan to find ways to do all of those things. There are worse problems, so we’re okay.
Did you have a costume for Halloween?
AJ: 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 juggle everything?
AJ: I plan a lot, obsessively. I’m 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.
|(December: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Screenings * Teen ) Current Issue * Archive|
Copyright © 1999-2006, BlackFilm.com