Angelina Jolie on boosting cars, the love of her life and packing heat
When I last interviewed Angelina Jolie, she was promoting her supporting role in Girl, Interrupted, bemoaning the lack of a relationship in her life, and planning to buy something extravagant that you can live in (that wasn’t the Elephant Man’s bones). A lot can happen in seven months.
First, an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, and now the twenty-seven-year-old actress is married to Billy Bob Thornton, sporting a nuptial tattoo, and still not living in John Merrick’s body. Promoting her latest supporting turn opposite Nic Cage in the big budget action flick, Gone in 60 Seconds, Angelina and I picked up where we last left off.
Can you actually boost a car?
That is dangerous for me to admit now. Yeah, I think I may have to check my notes, but yeah I could. I haven’t done it in a while, but yeah. I think that that is one of the greatest things about my job is that you get to learn all these different skills that you never thought. I suddenly got to play with cars and learn how to drive properly and really fast and break into cars. There is an art to them, and they are all different and in each character; we all thought we would do it differently, so it was fun.
Did you dig cars prior to this film?
A bit. I read the script and that was one of the reasons that we all wanted to do it. I don’t think that anybody in this movie didn’t like cars or that they weren’t appealing to them. I have always liked cars. I don’t have and have never had one of those kind of cars. I got to drive a Ferrari. I had never been in a car like that. I didn’t get to drive the Lamborghini Diablo, and that was the one I really wanted to drive.
I’ve got a bone to pick with Jerry Bruckheimer: how come you didn’t get to do any stunt driving or action sequences in this film?
You know what is great about that is that everyone is mad about that, which is lovely. it’s a group movie. It was never going to be me and Nic. It was always Nic’s movie and an ensemble, and I was part of that, and we all had our things. You always want to get in there, do more and have more fun, but we did what we thought was right with the story. I agree with you. I would have loved to have had more scenes like that.
Were there any challenges working with Nic Cage?
It was wonderful. Nic is just such a great guy. Any rumors about him that I need to clear up, by the way?
Ha! I suppose I’ll just wait to ask him…What about Robert Duvall? Was working with him something you ever imagined?
Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any scenes with Duvall. I think he is amazing. But, back to Nic: I wish there were more actors like this; we had fun playing. Nic is a really great team leader. He wants everyone to do things and surprise him. He is definitely a leading man, but he is wild and will be spontaneous. It was a fun environment.
Speaking of wild, how did you develop your look in this film?
I thought that she should look like a Ferrari. And I knew that they were going to have her be the girl amongst the guys and be kind of tough, but I thought that it was very important that they didn’t lose the sense that she was very much a woman and so I wanted her to have long hair as opposed to the obvious boy greaser thing that they could have easily done. I wanted her to have long hair and look like one of those car magazine girls, but I also thought that she would never do her hair or put it back or wash it or anything, so dreads made sense and there is some method to the madness.
What is the method to your madness? How do you find the subtle nuances in a character like this?
Somebody was talking once, and this has always made sense to me when I have watched things. They said that the deeper a place you come from, the deeper you are going to reach into other people. And that has always made sense to me, so I guess I am extremely sensitive. I know what matters to me, and I was able to do these kind of stories and discover an amazing thing about people and discover that I wasn’t really alone and that they had the same feelings and went through those same moments. So, it encouraged me to continue to do that and continue to share everything, and that’s what allows us all to get to know each other better and ourselves better. It is important to me to share my life and to feel that I am connecting with people.
What, if anything, have you learned from your father about acting?
As an actor and a person, it is really the same. My memory of my father is him sitting at a table with books on Ghandi and trying to figure things out about life and trying to make notes and maybe incorporating them into films and trying to fix a script and trying to say something with it. He is always learning and always searching to be a better person and to understand things. He has never changed his life. Him being an actor didn’t change him. He was more human.
You just shot a film with Antonio Banderas and the rumor mill is all a-titter with speculations. How do you deal with such nonsense?
If people believe it, it will actually be sad because he is somebody who loves his wife so much and is absolutely crazy about her and loves their baby, and it is a beautiful thing and nothing should be taken away from that. We were great friends, but there was absolutely nothing like that going on. Nothing. But you know what, as soon as we signed on to do the movie we could look at the script and say, “Okay, there are sex scenes. What do you think the rumors are going to be?” We were surprised that they didn’t come sooner. Of course they are going to say that. It is a given; it is an obvious rumor. I go to sleep at night looking just looking over a pillow at the love of my life and just stare at him and nothing that you guys can do can bother me.
Since you’ve mentioned the love of your life, on top of winning Oscars, you’ve had another major life change: getting married to Billy Bob Thornton…
That’s the biggest one. I never thought I would be settled or calm or ever be satisfied. I always carried this crazy thing around because I always thought that I would never stay in one place and nobody would ever really get inside me. It felt kind of empty. Now, I am very, very calm, and I feel I have so much meaning in life. I am so clear. He has just made me complete. I just admire him and I have so much fun with him.
How did he come to be the “love of your life?”
I don’t think that anybody was looking for it. We hadn’t been single until a few months ago. So we had just been friends, and that is what we really are at the end of the day, so it never felt like that was strange. We were great friends and two people who liked to talk. I just always thought that he was just like the most amazing person I had ever met. I have just always been moved by his work, and I have always just loved to see him with people and the kind of friend he is.
You got married in Las Vegas. I figured you would’ve gotten married at the Elvis chapel?
I don’t know. Is there an Elvis chapel?
Yeah, Elvis performs the ceremony. Well, I don’t think it’s really Elvis…
No. (giggle) But, no, it was funny. It was casual. Our families knew, but it was just about two people as they are every day. It wasn’t like, suddenly, I was a bride. I was still Angie. So we just said, “Yeah forever.” And that was it.
I always love interviewing you because you’re so candid and so funny about being candid.
And I always will. I like being able to be really honest. I will share everything always because it helps me to continue to do my work. I have nothing to hide and I like sharing with people. I like when people come up to me and tell me things about themselves. So I will never change. So, of course, there is always going to be stuff that sounds weird or isn’t explained, but it will probably just get worse, and that’s okay.
And how do you feel about stuff right now?
My work means a lot to me. Being allowed and knowing you are in a safe place where you can feel you can keep working and you are being supported to do that and you are connecting with somebody. It means everything. You don’t need to get an award for it, but you want that kind of response; that’s what that means. All that stuff came at the same time when everybody in my family was spending a lot of time together. We were like happy and healthy and I was spending time with Billy Bob and coming together with him and it was, like, you know, all those things that are really important in life and I was working -- just all those things that are really great about life. So, even the night of the Oscars, I ran to find Billy.
What are your memories of Oscar night?
I remember calling my mom and not being able to understand a word she said because she was screaming so much and so she said to talk to my dad and knowing that they had gotten on the phone together. I remember seeing my father’s face, and he had gotten so emotional and said that it meant so much to him that I had talked about him being such a great father, and that meant a lot to me that I didn’t know how much that would mean to him. Obviously, looking over at my brother and just knowing that this is the world that we kinda grew up in; this is a place where my dad stood. It was a film that meant a lot to me. It was a huge night. And beyond that, Billy, he was back home and put his two beautiful children to bed and came out to say, “Hi.” And then I got back on a plane at four in the morning and went back to work in Mexico.
How’s the view from the top of the world? Pretty terrifying?
It doesn’t scare me because the highest point in my life is my marriage and my relationship with my family. That I can’t lose. It’s not going to go up and down and fade away. We are all going to go through things, as everybody here will, with people we love. Life happens, but I can’t lose the things that are really important. I can always do my work even if it is on stage in the back of a… you know.
Well, Tomb Raider is a little bigger than onstage in the back of a… you know. Has shooting started?
Oh yeah. The kids should really like my role. Billy is playing a barber. He is cutting hair, and I am shooting guns. I have been in England for three weeks and will be there for over a month more just in training. It is going to be six months. And it looks like we are going to Cambodia and Iceland, and mostly England. I will train through the whole film. I am on this, get up and do yoga at 7:30, which is insane and they have taken my cigarettes and alcohol and sugar away from me. And Billy.
What are you training to do?
I am doing diving and doing weapons training with a Special Forces guy. I am doing kickboxing and bungee ballet. Everything from soccer to rowing to manners. They are sending me to manners school.
So Lara Croft is still British and proper?
Yeah, absolutely. She is very British. She was raised a certain way so she was raised really proper and she has a very proper voice, she has very proper manners.
If it’s dangerous to put you behind the wheel of a Ferrari, do you really think it’s safe for you to be handling firearms?
(giggles) Yeah. I am doing so much in this film. There is a part of me that thinks that this is insane, and I can’t believe that I am doing this. Then there is that other part of me, when I am in full army gear and some guy is going, “Advance! Advance! Left! Turn! About face! Duck! Run!” And I think, “Maybe this is me.” It kind of is.
So are you comfortable packing heat?
It is fun to learn about them. To be trained to take them apart and put them back together. It is like driving. It is that thing where you learn how to do it really fast, you learn how to do it really well, but you also learn how to use the equipment properly. We shot a blank into Styrofoam -- the same blanks that actors use, and I have seen actors put a gun like this close to somebody’s head -- and they had me shoot it into Styrofoam. It blew a hole this big and the second gun set it on fire. And that is what we, as actors, all have. I am learning these things.