Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy

Movies Interview

Angelina Jolie ('Changeling')

By
Angelina Jolie ('Changeling')
It is almost a decade since Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, subsequently earning the scorn of critics with the Tomb Raider franchise, Beyond Borders and Alexander to name but a few. However, the tide seems to have turned again. Jolie is being tipped for more awards glory after her turn in real-life drama Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood. This time she has the starring role as a single mother in '20s LA who must cope with the kidnap of her son and a corrupt police force indifferent to her anguish. Here, Jolie explains the process of tapping into her maternal instincts and looking to her own mother (who died just before filming) as the inspiration for her performance.

> Click here for our review of the film

This is a harrowing film to watch. Was it a harrowing film to make?
"It was a harrowing film for all of us to make and, at the same time, because it was a true story - this woman went through so much - it was very inspiring."

As a mother, was it hard to get your head around what Christine Collins went through?
"It was very hard. When I first read this script, I couldn't put it down. I immediately said, 'No, I can't do this project because it is too upsetting.' But then I couldn't stop talking about her. I found myself sitting with people and wanting them to know about this extraordinary woman. In the end it became a story about democracy in action, about justice, about suffering a great loss and fighting through it to make a change for the future, and other people, and questioning the government and questioning the police. I thought it would be like an extra piece of justice for her to tell her story, but as a mum, it was horrible. I had my kids with me as much as possible, at lunch during the day. I just ended up being very goofy at home and so happy that I knew where my kids were."

Christine is quite passive, initially, after the police fob her off. Was it frustrating to play that aspect of her character?
"Yeah, it was the hardest thing. It wasn't just that she trusted in them, but she just wouldn't have gotten anywhere if she hadn't tried to 'keep her place'. She had to walk a very fine line and when she did speak up is when they locked her in an institution. And she was a single mother in 1928 [which] didn't command any respect at that time. The way I relate to it is through my mum. Her name was Marcheline but we'd call her Marshmallow, because she was just the softest, most gentle woman in the world. She was really sweet and would never get angry, but when it came to her kids, she was really, really fierce and so this is very much her, and her story in that she was the woman who I relate to who had that elegance and strength in just knowing what was right."

Clint Eastwood is known for being 'an actors' director'. How did he handle those emotional moments with you?
"He is very decisive. He's famous for shooting one or two takes, which sounds terrifying to an actor, but because of that you know he's not going to drain you emotionally. He'll take more than one if he needs it, but he'll be very prepared from the moment you walk in the door so you have this feeling that you have to bring your all. But if you do bring your all and you give it everything you've got till you're emotionally drained, he will capture it and he won't ask you to do it twenty times. So, he does allow for you to really push yourself and because most of the time he does do just one take, everything is very fresh. You know actors can tend to over-think things and we tend to analyse ourselves, but working with Clint doesn't allow for that. He keeps things very 'in the moment' and very real."

Was there a particular scene that you found difficult to do?
"I think the most difficult scene for me was just to make that phone call in the beginning. [As a parent], you don't want to go up to a phone, pick it up and report a missing child...the act of doing it is just horrible. That was hard to do, but funnily enough the more difficult scene was picking up the child at the train station. It was so weird! I remember the other actor [Jeffrey Donovan]. We really had to do this scene with evidence that it actually happened, because he presents this other child and she says, 'This is not my child,' and he then has to convince her that she should take him home. So, somewhere in the course of this scene she has to go from, 'This is not my child' to 'Okay, I'll take him home.' And we couldn't figure out how to act it. We just sat there together just trying to…it was so bizarre, it felt so strange."

Were there any other challenges to playing a woman of that era - did Clint put you through a '20s boot camp?
"He did. Actually when I did The Good Shepherd, which was a little later in period, I had to take a manners class! I had to learn to sit more this way [shifts to the side], because it wasn't very polite for a woman to sit as I do, very direct. These are things that you have to learn, so I had that in mind. And I found myself covering my smile a lot. I don't know why. Maybe it was something my mother did, or maybe it was just an instinctual thing of politeness. I don't know, but there were things that would just sort of organically come."

There is already Oscar buzz surrounding your performance. Would it mean as much to win a second time - especially since you lost your first Oscar?
"Hah! I didn't actually lose it. I gave it to my mum and she was one of those people that didn't put things up that she thought were too special, so I don't know where she put it. She put it away somewhere and we haven't gone through all her stuff so nobody knows where it is at the moment. Anything that acknowledges a film that you're proud of and that you worked hard on means a great deal to all the people who worked on it. But at the same time, even if it's not acknowledged, you're just as proud and you still worked just as hard.

Changeling is released on November 26.

You May Like