In a rare television interview, Angelina Jolie sits down exclusively with NBC News’ Ann Curry and talks about her upcoming movie, “A Mighty Heart,” in which she plays Mariane Pearl, the wife of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. Jolie also opens up about her extensive humanitarian work, her family life with Brad Pitt and their four children, and recent death of her mother, Marcheline Bertrand.
In a separate interview, Brad Pitt talks to Curry about his behind-the-scenes role as a producer on “A Mighty Heart,” which is produced by his Plan B shingle in conjunction with Revolution films. Dede Gardner and Andrew Eaton, two producers of the movie, also join Pitt in the interview. Pitt also discusses his global charity work with Jolie.
The interviews will air on NBC News’ TODAY 7 a.m. ET and “Dateline NBC,” 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, May 23. Excerpts of the interview, below.
Jolie on her role as Mariane Pearl
Ann Curry: It’s interesting. I was reading that you were actually six months pregnant when you first talked to Mariane.
Angelina Jolie: I was six months pregnant and --
Curry: But that helped you empathize?
Jolie: But it [did]. It was also a very interesting thing because for as much as I was kind of waddling around and feeling the heat, I couldn’t help but look over at this woman and think, "God, she is where I’m at now and I’m having — and not just the physical thing of being pregnant and, oh, that’s difficult. And I have this man with me who’s helping me through this and loves me."
And it’s a joyous moment. And we’re about to now also have a baby, and we’re gonna look at this baby together across the room at each other. And it’s all those things that make that so much more. And to not just physically be thinking, “God, how is this woman physically dealing with trying to maintain her strength and take care of this baby that’s inside of her, working so hard and having so much emotional stress?”
But on top of it, what that took away from her. What that took away from this time in their life, this is the happiest time in their life. And what that must be. I just can’t imagine. I thought about that when I was breastfeeding. I thought about that all through kind of the birth of, you know, that haunted me and when I was sitting here quiet, I would think, “God, just a few months after, what is that like? What is that like?”
Curry: To play her was not easy. To play her at this time of her life was not easy.
Jolie: I’ve played real people before, but I never knew them. And, you’d think that would be easier. (laughs) I did. But the day before we started shooting, I had hardly slept and I was in a panic. I had gotten to know her and I’d gotten to know their son. And the thought that he would see this one day... It was my responsibility to not just show the world but also show him how much his mother loved his father and how much they loved each other and how they handled this time.
It was something that haunted me through the whole thing and haunted, I think, everybody involved. Nobody ever really voiced that and nobody really talked about it, but I’m sure it was something that she did become a friend.
So how do you play [that role?]- I’m sure if somebody said to you, "Your great girlfriend has gone through the most horrible thing in her life. Why don’t you stand up and show us what she went through and how it felt?"
Jolie on rumors in the press
Curry: So if I asked you, for example, right now -- what’s something that’s untrue that you would like to say right now is not true... you wouldn’t know what was untrue that was written about you?
Jolie: No. I mean, I can assume. I know there’s a cycle of certain things that they keep rewriting or whatever, but I can assume things are made up. But no, I haven’t a clue. (laughter) And why would I, you know? There’s nothing I have to hide or defend. You know, I’m gonna live my life. And there are gonna be times when people wanna try to attack me and I don’t know why, but they will. And that’s okay.
Curry: It’s okay?
Jolie: Well, there are other things I’m more concerned about. My kids are healthy. I have a lot I want to do in this world. Before I do, I wanna do a lot of things as a woman, as a mom, and that’s my focus. At the end of the day, I’m gonna be dead... and what people say about me is gonna be what I accomplished and what I did in my life and how my children are.
Curry: Is there anything you’d like to say to people listening now because you now have an unedited audience here — an unedited opportunity — to give people to unvarnished truth about who you are and what you stand for. Is there anything that you want to say about yourself?
Jolie: No. I mean... I have always been honest about who I am, and I’ve always been very outspoken to press. I think people have heard a lot from me (laughter) over the years. And - and you do hear more, you know?... People wanna believe negative things, they will. And I can’t help that.
Brad Pitt, on his humanitarian work with Jolie and what people can do to help
Brad Pitt: The thing is just generating the will to understand. And that means focusing on certain events. Because it’s not all coming across our airwaves... and really investigating if something doesn’t feel right.
Generally, I would say it’s just not enough anymore to say that "it’s entertainment and enjoyment." For me personally I’m saying, in my life, if you can move the ball forward a little bit... that’s what this is about. Where is it going to go? The interesting thing is how it evolves for me individually for myself, and watching the same with Angie. But where’s it gonna go? I’m not gonna stop.
We can have our things. And that is just getting your hands dirty, rolling up your sleeves a little bit and seeing where it takes you. And where it can, where you can best help. Where you’d be most effective. But there’s a lot of studying do.