|Angelina Jolie evokes classic Hollywood in her most glamorous role yet, starring opposite Johnny Depp
Interviews are rarely as engaging and in a more beautiful setting than Sony's press junket for The Tourist. Set in beautiful Paris near the splendor of the Champs Elysees and Louver, we had the distinct pleasure of speaking to Angelina Jolie in one of the nicest hotels this pauper journalist has ever seen. Jolie was at ease and all smiles during the interview. It's clear she had a great time filming in Venice and starring opposite the uber-cool Johnny Depp.
Jolie stars as Elise, a femme fatale under constant surveillance by Scotland Yard and Interpol. Her lover, the clever Alexander Pierce, has eluded authorities and stolen a billion dollars from a ruthless Russian gangster. In her efforts to outwit the cops and criminals, Elisa lures in Frank (Depp), a hapless tourist blindsided by the affections of such a stunning woman. But Frank gets more than he bargained for as the danger of their situation starts to sink in.
Your wardrobe in this film is very beautiful and glamorous. How much input did you have in the clothing or was it all the costume designer?
Angelina Jolie: She was very specific, but I did add things I thought were right for the character. It had a kind of sexiness, but it had to be fun. It had elegance to it. The dress with the high slit with the bow on the bum (laughs). We wanted something more playful and sweeter for her.
Elise has a really classic look, kind of like Grace Kelly, particularly that first outfit...
Angelina Jolie: Yes, this was definitely very different than anything I've ever worn. It took me a while to wear the heels, and the gloves, and figure out to hold the handbag. I think everyone here knows that I'm not too female in that way (laughs). It was a little bit of an exercise for me.
Elise has this very elegant walk, the camera kind of feasts on it. Can you talk about developing that?
Angelina Jolie: I was very conscious of it. The first time we did it, I had the camera right behind my rear end, walking down the streets of Paris. I felt so uncomfortable, so bizarre. Its one thing when you're walking, but another when someone is watching you. You become very aware, especially in five-inch heels on cobblestones (laughs). It was not so pleasant, but you do get into it. And you kind of discover the fun in just being a girl. I had just come off Salt, and she's a guy. So it was nice to rediscover being female.
Can you discuss the feel of the movie, it's reminiscent of classic Hollywood?
Angelina Jolie: When you meet Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (director), you'll see it's all him. He's into every detail, like she wouldn't wear diamonds in the day because that's how she was raised. My note that I got, probably every day, was slow down. I think as modern women, we attack things, we are very aggressive. I think he was trying to teach me the thing about being bred or elegance, is that time moves around you. This was the hardest thing for me, to take a deep breath and kind of glide a little more.
What's the best part of working with Johnny Depp?
Angelina Jolie: He's such a nice guy. He's so funny, just fun to hang out with. He's that friend where you're so happy to come to work and do scenes with. He's a brilliant actor, that's thought of for his great character work; but it comes from an artist who's willing to try things. He's a really experimental, deeply feeling artist, who gives a lot. He tries a lot, so gracious on set to everyone. He's really just a pleasure.
This makes two action-adventure films this year...
Angelina Jolie: This is an action film (laughs)? I haven't seen it yet! I actually did this for the opposite reason. For me...maybe this was an action movie, but I really didn't get a chance to participate in that. This came about because I had finished Salt, and Brad Pitt was supposed to work next. He had a small delay in his film, Moneyball. So we had a few months, and I questioned if there was anything out there that shot in a great location. Honestly, that was the phone call that I made. And it was a character I hadn't done before. Then I got this call about shooting a film in Venice about a real lady. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck came on board, then Johnny Depp, and it kind of went from there. It was a pleasure, a really nice film to work on.
What's the good and bad of working in Venice?
Angelina Jolie: There's not a lot of bad. The good...as a parent you want to teach your kids about culture. With this, done, nothing like being in Venice for two months. They went to museums, had an Italian teacher, it was great. The funniest thing was the logistics. The tide, you can ask Johnny Depp about this, but there was one scene he had to jump into my boat. The boat and water were like a foot apart. We had to move the scene to the other side of the water. Two hours had passed and the boat was five feet lower. I really thought he was going in the water (laughs). It was like things like that you had to overcome.
This film is so consciously evocative of another era. Did you watch anything to prepare you for this?
Angelina Jolie: We watched To Catch a Thief. There were other things I was supposed to watch, but didn't (laughs). You want to watch those movies, but you don't want to mimic. We wanted to make it modern. I was nervous. I didn't want to make her too precious. I wanted her warmer. I didn't get too caught up in behaving like a princess. I wanted her to have texture, and be relatable.
We've read that the first time you met Johnny was at his office. Is there anything that stood out that caught you by surprise?
Angelina Jolie: So you want me to tell what's in his office (laughs)? I was on time, for the record, I was not early. When you walk into someone's office, you see what's important to them. He's got books and lots of pictures of his children. He's immediately someone you feel at ease with.
Did you have a heroine, real or fictitious, that inspired this role?
Angelina Jolie: I think it was just a combination of what we all think in our minds is female. My mother had a real softness to her. Vivienne, my youngest daughter, is extremely female...a real girl. I kind of played Vivienne in the film, but I guess I didn't pin it down to one person. The accent I based on an English woman.
So you're working with Johnny Depp, and he's playing the least cool person alive. The scenes where he's speaking Spanish in Italy, the horrible electronic cigarette, how many times did you bite your cheek to stop laughing?
Angelina Jolie: I did, there's some footage, which I'm surprised hasn't surfaced, of thirty minutes where we couldn't stop laughing. We wasted so much film and got a lot of producers frustrated. We just couldn't stop laughing. Yes, we failed quite a few times. The outtakes from this I'm sure are very funny.
Most recently you wrapped your directorial debut. What's the status of that project, and what was it like behind the camera?
Angelina Jolie: I am done filming. I go back to edit in January. It was great. It was nice to take the spotlight off myself, and put it on some brilliant actors. I am excited to show their talent to the word. I'm very proud of what they gave and what they did.