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Angelina Jolie Speaks From A Mighty Heart

Angelina Jolie stars in "A Mighty Heart."

Angelina Jolie stars in “A Mighty Heart.”

Angelina Jolie Speaks From A Mighty Heart

by Brad Balfour

Originally posted February 21, 2008.

When A Mighty Heart was about to be released, some members of  Angelina Jolie’s camp decided to limit her press exposure. Since this film was about a courageous journalist who is kidnapped and beheaded by Al Qaeda members in Pakistan, the press had a bad reaction to efforts to control them through a restrictive release form — ironic for a story about a journalist’s fatal effort to expose the secret world of the Islamist underground.

Daniel Pearl’s widow, Mariane, had written her book documenting the events that led up to his death and surrounding it so that the world would know what she experienced. Yet, in order to hear the 32 year-old Jolie — who played Mariane — speak about this painful and provocative film, some journalists had to catch her at various limited special events.

One evening, Jolie was part of a panel with a three other cast members. Out of that discussion came this distillation of her thoughts on this powerful tale of the intersection between the political and personal. As she spoke lucidly about this film, it was obvious even then that she would be nominated for an Best Actress Oscar.

You were told [by director Michael Winterbottom] to use the dialogue in the script as a guideline. What was that process like with the improvisation?

It was remarkable. It was just such a great way to work, especially for this film. We were all together. We never really left this house. We didn’t have trailers. We didn’t have places to go. We just lived on top of each other.

Michael had the right to come in and film whenever he wanted to, which meant you could go to the bathroom and he would follow you. It was this really open way and it went somewhat in order, so we were all together on the first day and he helped us all. Then the second day, Michael was gone. We were trying to figure out what happened. It flowed from there until the end, so it felt very organic. Then he showed up and it all became [obvious].

It was amazing. It took us all a while to trust ourselves. We all looked at each other and were very, very nervous. We didn’t know what we were doing and felt shy because it was such a new process.

You did much of your own research. How much of the characterization needed to be  created or was in the script?

It wasn’t as much in the script because these are real people. This really happened. We all did have the great fortune to meet them and the other people that knew them. I think our big concern was not to do a caricature of these amazing people, but to try to find out who they were and to know that this was such a heavy time in their lives. Probably the thing that they still lose sleep over and feel was: “Could I have done more?  What was I doing at that time?”

Remember vividly what that remaining thought was. So to honor them [we had]  to find a way to be organically inside them and just not in any a way that would betray them. It was hard. So we got to know them and what was important to them.

As for Mariane, I did know so much of how much she loved her husband, how much she believes in dialogue and other people. So I guess what they believe in was more important than exactly what they sounded like or exactly what they dressed like.

Click here to read the rest of the interview!

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