A pinch of ‘Salt’ and a generous dash of Angelina Jolie

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king A pinch of ‘Salt’ and a generous dash of Angelina Jolie

Post by vanity-insecurity on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:14 am

Angelina Jolie first read the script for Salt just after she had given birth to
her much-adored twins, Vivienne and Knox. As she points out, it was
rather difficult to imagine making an action-thriller which would
involve high-octane stunts—most performed by Jolie herself—including
gritty fight sequences, edging along a tiny ledge 12 stories high, and
leaping on to moving cars, when your focus is on caring for your newborn

But then, the Oscar-winning actress clearly loves a challenge.
“I do like making movies like this, and I loved making this one,” she
smiles. “When they first called me about Salt, I had just had the twins
and I was at home in my nightgown feeling very soft and maternal.

“I remember I was with them in my bedroom, you know as you do in the early
weeks when you’ve just had a baby, and I flipped through the script and
it was all about getting out there and attacking and being very
physical and I did feel really funny, in my nightgown in my bedroom,
thinking, ‘If I can do this, it would be a nice balance.’ You know, from
being soft and Mommy and then going back to work and doing this hard,
physical role. It seemed like a real challenge. And I like that.”

The origins of the project date back even further. Jolie recalls a meeting
with Amy Pascal, cochairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and chairman
of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, a few years back
when among other projects they discussed the new James Bond movie Casino

“We had this lovely, playful talk about the fact that I would have
preferred to have played Bond,” she laughs. “I think they were thinking
that maybe I could play the girl in the movie but actually, I was
pregnant at the time and I couldn’t have done it. And it wasn’t right
for me—the people they cast in Casino Royale were perfect for it.

“But, I guess, the idea stuck with Amy because years later she called me and
said, ‘I think I’ve found it....’” The “it” in question was Salt, a
contemporary spy thriller originally written for a male actor. (That
would be Tom Cruise.) Pascal reasoned—and Jolie agreed—that the script
could skilfully be adapted to make the protagonist, a CIA agent accused
of being a sleeper spy for the Russians, into a female lead.

Indeed, for Jolie the film was exactly what she was looking for and ticked all
the boxes—strong characters played by an expert band of actors
(including Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor) with dynamic action
sequences that are very much a part of a compelling story directed by a
filmmaker, Phillip Noyce, that she admires and had worked with
successfully before on The Bone Collector.

“With Salt, the writers didn’t necessarily sit down and think, ‘What would a
woman do in this situation?’ They just thought, ‘What would a CIA agent
do?’ And I think that immediately made it one of the better roles I’ve
read and something that was much more challenging to do.”

Often, women in spy films have been little more than beautiful adornments to
the story. Not so with Salt. “Females in those films rely on being
female but we wanted to ignore that. She’s just Salt. It’s not about
being a female and she certainly doesn’t use her sexuality to get
anything in the film,” says Jolie.

“In fact, in many ways it’s the roughest I’ve looked at a certain stage
because when you fight it gets ugly, and if somebody breaks your nose
it’s not pretty.”

When Evelyn Salt, a veteran CIA operative, is accused of being a sleeper spy for a foreign power, she has to fight to prove her innocence. And the first priority is to evade
capture and go on the run. She’s a woman alone designated as an enemy
of the state and the colleagues she has worked with for years are now
out to catch her.

For Jolie, playing an ambiguous character who might not be who she claims to
be was a whole lot of fun. She loved the fact that the audience will be
on the edge of their seats wondering if Salt is a loyal CIA agent or,
in fact, she could really be a mole, deep under cover for the enemy.

“I think you go through the film, if we have done our job right, not being
sure of who she is and when you think you are sure of who she is, maybe
even that is different than you thought it was.

“I like that where you don’t quite know what’s going on. And hopefully we
made it smart enough and respected the audience’s intelligence and tried
to make it complicated. I think they will like it.”

Jolie, along with stunt coordinator Simon Crane and her stunt double Eunice
Huthart—who have both collaborated successfully with the actress on
previous films including Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith—developed a
distinctive style of fighting and developed the spectacular stunts seen
in the film.

“We talked a lot about the way she fights,” she says. “And the thing that
was maybe the least obvious for a woman became the thing that we relied
on which is that she’s mean. Not flashy, not gymnastic, not
inventive—she’s just mean when it comes down to it.”

She embraced the considerable physical challenges that presented themselves
during filming and, wherever possible, did the action scenes
herself—including a hair-raising sequence where she jumps from a bridge
on to a moving car and climbs out on to the ledge of a building 12
stories up.

“I get a kick out of it. I love that kind of thing. And the thing is that
Simon and Eunice both know me so well so when they set a stunt, they
have me in mind and they know what I can do.

“There are a few things, when you look closely at the film, that involve
heights or something moving fast and those are two things that I’m very
comfortable with. “And the people that know you know the things that you
love doing and they come up with things like climbing outside of a
building on a ledge really high up, or jumping off a bridge. They know
that’s where I’m comfortable and they will adjust stunts to the things
that I love instead of just randomly throwing anything at me.”

Her willingness to tackle as much as possible did mean that she picked up
one rather nasty injury. Filming a sequence for the end of the movie,
she was required to burst into a room under fire, roll across the floor
and fire her own weapon.

“It was first thing in the morning and I thought, ‘This is a piece of
cake,’” she recalls. “I jumped inside shooting and somehow I went right
into this ledge that was about a foot off the floor and it knocked me
right between the eyes and cut me open.”

After some on-set treatment, Jolie was taken to hospital for a checkup.
“It was fine. I had a cut on my head and they covered it up with a
patch. And I was back shooting stunts that day. And it’s funny because
in the later scenes my nose is broken and I’m pretty cut up, so we
didn’t even have to cover it up—it blended right in.”

Jolie met several real women CIA operatives and it gave her invaluable insight
into women who, essentially, have to live secret lives and dare not
reveal the true nature of the highly dangerous work they do.

“The two women I met were sweet-looking, smallish-framed, blue-eyed,
blonde-haired, and looked like they would be running the little store in
the High Street or maybe teaching in Ohio,” she says. “But
once you started talking to them, you could see how these women
navigated themselves through this incredibly demanding world and how
dangerous it was. And they are tough, tough women.

“And one of the things they told me was that as women they had such
difficulty dealing with relationships; they said the hardest thing is to
be in a job where you can’t talk about anything that is happening with
your husband.”

The film, she says, is grounded in that kind of detailed reality. And even
the premise that a deeply buried sleeper could exist within the ranks of
the CIA is not so far-fetched. Evelyn Salt is forced to go on the run
to prove her innocence when a defector alleges that she’s a mole who
will trigger “Day X”—the day when Russian sleeper spies are activated to
begin a war against the United States.

Day X
is still a controversial topic inside the CIA, says Jolie. Some firmly
believe that the theory is real, while others dismiss it as a myth.

“But there are CIA agents that do believe that there are sleepers. And when
you think about it, there have been in the past and it is a very strong
tool to use if you want to infiltrate an organization. So you do
wonder.” Jolie was delighted to be reunited with director
Phillip Noyce, some 10 years after they made The Bone Collector
together. They picked up right where they left off, she says.

“We had an immediate communication. Phillip is somebody who understands
action but he is also somebody who understands drama and emotion and
real people and subtleties and nuance and character. He is one of those
rare directors who instinctively knows that balance very well. I was
relieved when I knew Phillip was directing the film because I knew he
could do it.”

Her costars, too, were a “joy” to work with, she says. “I think the world
of both of them. You know, we could all have approached this as a summer
movie and kind of relaxed but nobody did that. We took it as a serious
endeavor and we really worked hard.”

There was, though, time for some fun. Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt are the
extremely proud parents of six young children: Maddox, 8, Pax, 5,
Zahara, 4, Shiloh, 3, and twins Vivienne and Knox, who turned two in

“Brad and I take turns to make films,” says Jolie. “So if I’m working, he’s
not and vice versa. When I made Salt it was a very happy time for all of
us. The older children would come on set and see some of the
rigs and they just want to get on them—so they would get hooked up to
things and fly across the stage.

“They did a lot of that when they came to visit. They would play with fake
blood and get pretend cuts and bruises from the makeup department and
they had a lot of fun. We all did.”

The daughter of French actress Marcheline Betrand and Oscar-winning actor
Jon Voight, throughout her career, Jolie, 34, has enjoyed switching
genres from action—playing the popular computer-game heroine in Lara
Croft: Tomb Raider and its sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of
Life, an assassin in Mr. and Mrs. Smith—to more serious drama including
Beyond Borders and, more recently, the highly acclaimed A Mighty Heart
in which she played the widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl.

Her work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees started after first visiting Cambodia, where she partly filmed
the first Tomb Raider. Since then, she has traveled to more than 30
countries, including many dangerous regions, highlighting the plight of
refugees. She has also funded several humanitarian projects in Asia and
Africa. She is also currently a member of the Council on Foreign


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Join date : 2009-08-30
Age : 44
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