Hello (January 2012)

Half hour with… Angelina Jolie

By Adam Stone
Photographed by Carlo Allegri

The Oscar-winning actress tells us about her directorial debut and how it was made possible by the support of partner Brad Pitt.

Mother, humanitarian, sex symbol, movie star, writer, producer and director… Angelina Jolie has many strings to her how. Despite the impressive list, the 36-year-old says she was shy about her latest venture, In the land of Blood and Honey, a movie that focuses on the ordeal faced by women in the Bosnian War.

She needn’t have worried. The film – which Angelina wrote, directed and co-produced – impressed the critics.

Here, Angelina tells how her “wonderful partner” of six years, Brad Pitt, helped her to brave her first venture behind the camera. The actor, who turned 48 last week, stayed in Hungary and Bosnia during filming to take care of their kids, Maddox, ten, Pax, eight, Zahara, six, Shiloh, five and three-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.

How did you find the time to write a script with six children to look after?

A lot of it was written at Shiloh’s art class. I would sit there with my little note pads, writing. It’s odd now to see the film and realise that a lot of it was written in a child’s art class, because it’s very dark.

Was it hard juggling directing with being a mother?

Well I have a wonderful partner in Brad. We take turns working – always. So I was with the kids when he shot Moneyball then he took months off while I was in Hungary. Every morning he would take the kids to school and then they would come and visit me on set.

How does it feel to have your family support you in what you do?

It means everything. I wouldn’t be here without them.

What made you want to make a film about the Bosnian war and crimes against women?

My passion was to get a great education in Bosnia and then it just somehow led to the film. Then I met the people of the region and I could not be more passionate about them. I just followed their lead. But I never set out to direct a movie. I wrote the script as a kind of private exercise that I never intended to show any body. Then I showed it to Brad and he said: “You know, honey, it’s not bad.”

Was directing more or less stressful than you had anticipated?

It was stressful, but every day was an education and I loved it so much because of the subject matter.

Did you ever have to scream at the actors to get things done your way?

I’m not a screamer. I would more likely whisper in their ear. It all depends on the subject matter, but I didn’t have to teach people. They had lived through the war; they were teaching me.

We hear there was a lot of humour on set despite the subject matter…

Everyone from the former Yugoslavia has the greatest sense of humour. And I think because the subject matter was so heavy, every time the cameras stopped rolling everyone was so kind to each other and everyone was giggly. They had to do such brutal things on camera, it was only natural to balance that out at the end of the day.

Did you consider adopting another child while you were in Bosnia?

Oh well, you know [laughs]. It’s not something I have thought of. But there is a great organisation called SOS Children’s Villages in Sarajevo and we will supporting it through our soundtrack and other ways.

Is it true you’re planning to shoot a movie in Afghanistan?

I wrote something, but really didn’t intend telling anyone about it. I have been to Afghanistan many times. I’ve met Afghanis in Pakistan before 9/11 and I have also met people serving in the military over there, in the hospitals. So there has been something on my mind to cross those two themes.

What are you looking forward to doing most next, acting or directing?

I would love to direct, but I don’t know. You do one and just hope they let you do it again. We’ll see.

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