THE POPCORN REEL FEATURE
STORY: ANGELINA JOLIE, "WANTED", IN DEMAND, AND IN CHARGE
Angelina Jolie as Fox in "Wanted", opening in the
U.S. and Canada on Friday. The film, released by Universal Pictures, is
directed by Timur Bekmambetov and stars James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman and Common.
(Photos: Jaap Buitendjik/Universal Studios)
Angelina Jolie, Wanted, Yet Ubiquitous
Omar P.L. Moore/The
June 25, 2008
She's worked hard for the success that the mere mention of her
name attached to a film project often guarantees. On the big screen she is
chameleon-like, slipping interchangeably from portraying a woman of strength and
substance like Mariane Pearl to being a sexy siren in anime form as Grendel's
mother in "Beowulf". She has been synonymous with the thankless tabloid
gossip that accompanies her life with Brad Pitt and the humanitarian efforts
they undertake both together and separately yet she seems to wade right through
it all. Water off a duck's back, or in her case, water off a myriad number
of tattoos on her back. And when it comes to feature films Angelina Jolie
is wanted -- yet she's everywhere. Ever since hitting Oscar gold with her
performance in "Girl Interrupted" (1999), she hasn't stopped for a breath.
A film featuring Ms. Jolie has been released every year since 1995. And
fortunately -- at least for a great many men in the world -- this will not
change with "Wanted", which opens on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.
Ms. Jolie, mother of one child (and scheduled to give birth to twins in August)
and several adopted children, is still only in her early thirties (she turned 33
on June 4.) Unlike many of her peers she has gained more mileage from her
supporting actress Academy Award -- collected in 2000 for her role as a
mentally-challenged patient in an asylum of sorts in "Girl" -- than arguably any
other supporting actress winner except Cate Blanchett. Comparatively
younger and older Oscar-winning actresses (Anna Paquin and Mercedes Ruehl
respectively) have had smaller or virtually non-existent impact on the silver
screen post Award win, but the daughter of Jon Voight -- the father she has not
always had the closest or warmest relationship with -- has found herself and
become closer to Mr. Voight in the process.
If you looked at your local movie theater marquee over the last year or three
you would have seen Angelina Jolie's name above the line in a distinct mix of
films: "Mr. And Mr. Smith", a rowdy, loud and sexy action drama (opposite Mr.
Pitt) in 2005, where Ms. Jolie played an undercover FBI agent spouse; "The Good
Shepherd" (2006), Robert De Niro's directing effort, as an excitable and devoted
wife. Last year, Michael Winterbottom's political drama "A Mighty Heart"
saw an Oscar-caliber performance by Ms. Jolie as activist, journalist, author
and widow Mariane Pearl, though the Academy didn't see fit to nominate her back
in January. Then last November came her "Beowulf" cameo. She has
played in films opposite Denzel Washington ("The Bone Collector") and Nicholas
Cage ("Gone In Sixty Seconds") and has been a sexy sinner with Antonio Banderas
in "Original Sin". Right now, the Oscar winner and humanitarian can be
heard, not seen lending her vocal talents on the big screen in the animated film
"Kung Fu Panda", which has become an instant smash hit at the box office in
North America. In November Ms. Jolie will be seen playing a mother in
distress in the 1920's in Clint Eastwood's "Changeling".
This Friday however, Angelina Jolie takes center stage as the
appropriately-named Fox in "Wanted" -- she is wily, fearless, tough and alluring
-- and is number one with a bullet as she mentors Wesley, a timid nobody played
by James McAvoy to become judge, jury and executioner in a never-ending fight
against injustice. "Wanted", a film whose trailers showcase the
hyperkinetic and gymnastic abilities of discharged bullets, is directed by Timur
Bekmambetov, a Russian filmmaker who makes his English language debut with
"Wanted". Morgan Freeman, Common, Thomas Kretschmann and Terence Stamp (of
"Get Smart") also star in the action film, which is released by Universal
Pictures in North America. The film's lead female character, Fox is an
exacting assassin -- perhaps a redundant description -- and as earlier suggested
in this paragraph, the world's best at what she does. Fox is not exactly a
major stretch of a role for Ms. Jolie, however. While every character an
actor plays is different, Ms. Jolie has played Lara Croft in two films. To
that end, Croft, the heroine of the hugely popular video game Tomb Raider, is an
adventure warrior not unlike Fox.
"Wanted" is based on the graphic novel books by Marc Miller & J.G. Jones.
The film's story is written by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas, with Chris Morgan
joining Mr. Brandt and Mr. Haas in writing the "Wanted" screenplay.
In interviews with Universal Pictures for "Wanted" Ms. Jolie, who was the only
choice for the role of Fox, described her character this way: "Fox is a believer
in the Code (a way of life that is purely death culture). I like the fact
that she's quite flat, in a way; she just believes in getting on with it and
doesn't really show any emotion." Ms. Jolie, whose tattoos (seen in the
photos from the film both above and below) are real, with some additional
artificial tatto0s presumably inserted for her character on her arms, made it
clear that "Wanted" was a film not to be taken literally. "However, let's
not get too serious about this film -- it's supposed to be a fun movie, but the
idea of assassinating one person to save thousands is very interesting."
Marc Platt, one of the film's four producers,
described Fox as "an incredibly powerful, strong-minded, singularly-willed
person who has overcome obstacles in her life to become this great assassin."
In her own life Ms. Jolie has overcome plenty of obstacles, with the passing of
her mother at an early stage of Ms. Jolie's life, as well as the added pain of
Mr. Voight's adulterous ways, which pushed her further away from her father.
Before beginning to explore reparation of the torn father-daughter relationship
with Mr. Voight (whom she has praised as "a great actor but . . . a better
father"), Angelina Jolie, it could be said, was searching for a father figure.
She was married for three years to actor Jonny Lee Miller before divorcing in
1999 and the following year embarked on a three-year marriage to actor Billy Bob
Thornton which in 2003 ended in divorce. Now with her boyfriend Brad Pitt
she is resisting the mantra of "third time is a charm" and has cooled any gossip
about, or desire to, get married again. Of Mr. Pitt, Ms. Jolie has been
quoted as saying that "we have both been married before so it's not marriage
that necessarily kept some people together." (Marriage has also been
eschewed by many around the world, and in the tight-knit, closed community that
is Hollywood, U.S.A., such film couples as Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and Tim
Robbins and Susan Sarandon -- both couples have been together for over twenty
years each and are still going strong -- also get by just fine without the
contract of marriage being administered, thank you very much.)
Timur Bekmambetov's comments about Angelina Jolie reflect her seemingly
iconoclastic status. "We were very lucky -- and very happy to get
Angelina. She is just so solid, and such a nonconformist. She's also
a perfectionist, so in everything she does she wants to be the best. She
is deep and talented, grounded and specific. She knows, every second, what
she wants to do in the scene. Her viewpoint is very strong, and so you
have to understand it. We worked with her on her dialogue, and she really
helped to make it stronger," said the "Wanted" director. Ms. Jolie, who
performs some gravity-defying stunts and gyrations in "Wanted" -- she also did
her own stunts in the "Tomb Raider" films -- notes that "Wanted" is a "little
more nutty and has a sense of humor about itself," while not being pretentious.
"[T]here is something textured, European and a little funky about it.
Timur is a very focused, deep-thinking guy, and it's cool to see him in the
middle of a big Hollywood movie, bringing something to it that is unusual."
Angelina Jolie is in the middle of another Hollywood movie and she's wanted and
in demand in "Wanted", and on the A-list in Hollywood's acting ranks. She
brings celebrity, certainty and occasional controversy to the mix.
Of the need to seek therapy for her troubled life, she has said in the past:
"Therapy? I don't need that. The roles that I choose are my
Come and get me: Angelina Jolie as Fox, from
a scene from the action-adventure thriller "Wanted". The tattoos on her
back are all her own -- real and non-erasable, although smaller additional
tattoos were added on her arms and elsewhere for her character in Mr.
Bekmambetov's film, which opens on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.
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