Angelina Jolie is an Oscar-winning actress, humanitarian and a mother of six, partnered up with Brad Pitt. Now she’s adding another string to her bow, as a director. With her latest film In the Land of Blood and Honey, she steps behind the camera to direct the tale of a relationship affected by the Bosnian war.
You’ve been working on your directorial debut? What’s the status of that project? Are you done filming it and how was it behind the camera?
I am done filming it and it was great. It was really nice to have an opportunity to take the spotlight off myself and put it on some brilliant actors that are from a different area. I’m excited to show their work and their talent to the world because I’m very, very proud of what they gave and what they did. So I just felt lucky to be there for them.
Now that you are working as a director, has it changed your view of how you see your work as an actress?
Yes, and as a director. I had such a wonderful experience being more with the crew. I think actors, because we’re lost in the world of the characters and the world of the movie, we are more isolated. And so it was really fun to wake up and be a part of the entire crew, not isolated as I usually am as an actress. So I was much more aware of every different layer of the process. It was just a different level of working that was very, very exciting to me. I was really excited to watch other actresses work and do scenes that I would have liked to do, but then I see them act those scenes and they do them better than I could imagine and I’m thrilled. So, yeah, I’ve learned a lot. I wonder how it’s going be when I go back to just being the actor. I wonder if I even will…
Directing seems like a much bigger step than being an actor in a movie, being in a charge of a whole film as a filmmaker?
Yeah. I didn’t plan on it. It just happened and it was a really lovely experience. It was a great experience. We shot for about two months. We had a few six-day weeks because it was an independent movie. So it was a little rough on the schedule, but we were three days under and we shot in two languages.
What about the refugee groups that still don’t seem to be on the same page?
There are no refugee groups. There is a lot of positivity; every single person involved in this cast is from the area and the absolute majority, ninety five percent of them, lived through this war and were children of this war. They’re involved in the project and they support the project and it’s their story.
Was there a director you worked with in the past who you sort of modelled your process after?
I’m sure it’s a combination of quite a lot of directors. I’ve learned a lot from Clint, who’s an extremely economic director. I learned a lot from Michael Winterbottom, who gives a lot of trust in his actors and allows them to live in the space and capture them in the space instead of trying to manipulate and make it too set and too staged. Working with Robert De Niro taught me a lot about being an actor’s director and what that is. And so I have learned a lot from pretty much everybody. Hopefully, I’ve picked something up from everybody I’ve worked with.
The characters you play always have engaged, interesting professional lives, but they’re very rarely parents. Does that say a lot about the state of modern screenwriting or what audiences want? Or is it just those are simply the roles you’re interested in?
I’d love to play a parent. I don’t play them too often, but I’m sure I’ll start to. Salt initially was supposed to have a child, but I actually decided she wouldn’t because I felt that somebody whose life is in danger wouldn’t have a child. I guess I play a lot of characters that I question whether or not they should have children because of the decisions they’ve made in their lives. But I would love to play more of those characters. I would love to play a mother.
Well you had a great mom’s role in The Changeling.
Oh, thank you. Yes. I did. She was quite a mother, wasn’t she? Christine was an amazing woman.
"I play a lot of characters that I question whether or not they should have children because of the decisions they've made in their lives. But I would love to play more of those characters. I would love to play a mother."
You have this career. You’ve got six kids. You’ve got a husband. You’ve got your philanthropic work. When do you find time for yourself? Do you purposely work out a certain time where ‘this is gonna be Angelina time’?
No. You start to. You just give that up at a certain point. You know you even try to take a bath and everybody comes in. You just give it up. And it’s okay. I’ve surprised myself because I’m somebody that likes to be alone, and now I’m so happy to be surrounded by everybody in my family and not be alone. I feel that comfort, which is surprising even to me. But it’s all right.
Can you talk about the logistics of shooting a film and having the kids with you and just the reality of the schedules your family keeps?
Well, Brad and I, we never work at the same time. And one good thing about being an actor is that you work pretty solid when you work, but you usually work five days a week and you only work for a few months and then you’re off for months and you’re home for months. So I’m very, very lucky as a mother in the amount of time that I get to spend with my children. And when I was filming and when we were in production, both on the recent movie that I did and on The Tourist, Brad was home every day. So he’d take them to school or he’d just be with them or he’d take them to set. He’s an extremely hands-on and wonderfully committed father. So if anything, it’s sometimes nice to just have some extra Daddy time. It benefits them in a different way.
You both appear to be really grounded as people. Do you think that’s true?
I do think that I’m very grounded, especially in comparison to how you become more and more grounded once you have children and the older you get. So I’m probably the most grounded that I’ve been in my life, and at the same time I think in a funny way being grounded allows you to be even more free. So there’s a funny misconception about what it is to be grounded. When you’re younger and you’re wild, you actually don’t have as much control of your life and you don’t have the ability to do things with as much bravery because you don’t understand it, but then when you get older you tackle bigger things and you can handle them. So I’m grounded but with my children, there’s chaos around me in a way that there’s never been. Things seem fuller, but certainly much more grounded.
Photos: Courtesy of TRUNK ARCHIVE