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Jolie's most important role, not in movies

Angelia Jolie won an Oscar  for the film "Girl, Interrupted," but these days it's her own life that's been interrupted -- she and co-star Brad Pitt hunted by the paparazzi. What is the story? Jolie talks exclusively with NBC’s Ann Curry.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

It's this summer's blockbuster release, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Angelina Jolie plays a super spy, an undercover assassin sent to eliminate bad guys.

Ann Curry: “I want to know about this stunt in which it appears in the movie that you jump out of a 40 story window -- wearing, by the way, a dominatrix outfit.”

Angelina Jolie: “Of course. So I happened to get this stunt that suited me. But yeah, I was a little unsure about something the first time I went down and my coat flew off and I thought, oh, I have no pants on. I have no pants on and there's just a crowd of people on the floor.”

Curry: “Do you mean no underpants on or no pants on?”

Jolie: “Yeah. Everything is rubber… You don't feel like you're covered… Everything just doesn't feel right.”

What did feel right Jolie says was working with Brad Pitt for the first time.

Curry: “The chemistry between the two of you, acting or natural?”

Jolie: “Natural. Yeah.”

Curry: “Why do you think you worked together so well? Because I'm telling you, I'm watching the movie, it just seems you're comfortable with each other in your roles.”

Jolie: “We did work together surprisingly well, more than I thought we would, because I didn't know before we met. If we would actually work together really well and we had a great time.”

Jolie's character, Jane Smith discovers her husband John, is also secretly an assassin, working for another agency. When they are assigned to kill each other, marriage turns deadly.

Curry: “There seems to be this deliberate attempt on your part to not be—“

Jolie: “The girl?”

Curry: “Yeah. Yeah. The skirt, you know.”

Jolie: “Yes. Yeah. You know I guess because I've done so many action movies I don't actually even-- and also I consider girls to be pretty damn tough.”

Curry: “You don't defer to Brad in this movie in the violent scenes.”

Jolie: “We were very competitive. And we both wanted, you know, well, if she gets to slide across the floor, then I want to break a window. And I said, well, if he gets to throw me across the table, then I better smash him into the—yeah, so it builds.”

To prepare for these scenes, Jolie and Pitt had to train extensively and soon a real trust and friendship developed between them. But some of the fight scenes created challenges, especially for Pitt.

Jolie: “He's got to be fighting like he is fighting a man, equal to his size and how do you find that balance because physically he should be able to take me on because I am so much smaller than him. He was uncomfortable about it. You know the idea that he's going to hit a woman. And for any man that's just-- how do you get past that? It's not a comic book movie. I'm not a villain. It's like we're also husband and wife and now we're going to beat each other up. And domestic violence being what it is, you know, how do you make that fine line and make it an action movie and entertainment. When that is something that should never be entertainment or funny.”

Curry: “Is there too much violence in this movie?”

Jolie: “I don't think so. But we went all out for it. We wanted it to be that. We wanted every time like a husband and wife says to each other, I could just kill you. We thought, you know, what if they really could? What would it look like? 

Jolie felt right at home with the guns and things blowing up around her, but says she needed Pitt's help for the comedy.

Jolie: “He is very funny which helped me be funny. He got me from being too serious and he would just make me laugh so he helped a lot.”

Curry: “You were expressing some fear, trepidation about doing comedy.”

Jolie: “Yeah.”

Curry: “What does that say about Angelina?”

Jolie: “I don't know. I mean, I guess we're just -- for a long time, I was always much more comfortable in darker roles, in pain or quieter person and it takes a lot for me to feel that I have something to contribute in a light way, but I wouldn't assume, yeah, I'm that fun friend that everybody feels at ease with, you know? And I would love to think I had more of that, but—“

Curry: “Is that something you want to be more of?”

Jolie: “Well, I think having a kid, you know what I mean, he's really made me funny. So I guess he fixed that for me.”

But comedy and action aside, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is really a movie about marriage. How what begins with passion can end up stale when partners don't understand each other.

Curry: “How much did you draw on your own life to do this film?”

Jolie: “I think for everybody, especially for every woman, we've had a moment where you're lying bed and you're thinking about the person next to you, and ‘you have no idea who I am.’”

Jolie who has been married and divorced twice, once to actor Johnny Lee Miller and once to Billy Bob Thornton, says both men were wonderful. But it was what was absent from those relationships, she says, that helped her identify with her character Jane Smith.

There was something missing. And what that something is that we didn't have the same value for how we wanted to live our lives, what we wanted to do with our lives. If we wanted to be of use to others, in what ways? And that at the end of the day, as much as you can have fun with them, you can have great sex with somebody, you can have all that stuff, if you don't wake up with a common purpose, then it's not going to work. So, this film, I guess, also came at a time where I've been analyzing what that is. And I know now what it would need to be in order to be married again.”

Curry: “So, it did teach you something.”

Jolie: ”Yeah, and it certainly made me think what a nice thing it would be to have a teammate.”

Pitt and Jolie are cast as lovers in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the movie's steamier scenes have some asking if they found each other as attractive as the rest of America finds them?

Curry: “You have said, ‘to be intimate with a married man, when my own father cheated on my mother, is not something I could forgive. I could not look at myself in the morning if I did that."

Jolie: “Yeah, that's right.”

Curry: “That says a lot.”

Jolie: “I wouldn't be attracted to a man who would cheat on his wife.”

But it was during the shooting of the film that the tabloid attack began. Reports branded Jolie as "the other woman" when Pitt and his wife Jennifer Aniston separated in January, and then filed for divorce in March. But both Pitt and Jolie have denied that Angelina played any role in the break up of his marriage.

Curry: “Have you been hurt?”

Jolie: “No, it takes a lot to hurt me.”

Curry: “Oh, are you being just a tough girl?”

Jolie: “No, no, no, I've just grown up too much to be hurt by what people's opinion of my love life is. That doesn't hurt me. I'm more annoyed when I-- because of all of it, I try to take my son on a carousel yesterday, and we've got too many people flashing pictures for him to have a good time. That bothers me. But you know, I don’t read the gossip and I know the truth of my life and everybody involved in the situation knows the truth of everything and so everyone is quite at peace.”

But with a Pitt-Aniston divorce in the works and this month's W magazine pairing Brad and Angelina as a 1960s suburban couple with a healthy sex drive, the tabloid frenzy has intensified, with many asking, are they a couple now?

Curry: “Why not just say it now and not let anybody keep talking about it?”

Jolie: “I've never intentionally hurt—“

Curry: “Why not just say what's going on, so nobody keeps putting a camera in your face?”

Jolie: “It's not about that and you and I both know that I could make a thousand statements right now, and it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. People will say what they want to say, and it's okay, So, do I need to defend that I’m a decent woman? I sure hope I don't. I know I am.”

Curry: “I'd feel angry.”

Jolie: “Who do you get angry at? You get angry at the people who are just bombarded by headlines and magazines and TV programs that don’t have proper substance? You can't get angry at them. Can you get angry at the news people for doing it? It's their job. It’s some studio. It's what sells. It’s just a bizarre thing that is happening in our world today.”

Curry: “Do they scare you, the paparazzi?”

Jolie: “Do they scare me?”

Curry: “They hunt you.”

Jolie: “You know, I've spent the last month in Pakistan and Sierra Leone and the places they should be focusing on taking pictures. They're nowhere. I’ve just come back to New York and now they are going to get me on a carousel.”

Curry: “Well, what about this picture… can you believe some guys… a paparazzi photographer got half a million dollars? Is that right?”

Jolie: “I have no idea.”

Curry: “Long lens pictures of you in Africa with Brad. I mean, this is insane. I would say it's inane. What do you say it is?”

Jolie: “You know, you bought it. You're holding it.”

Curry: “I didn't buy it.”

Jolie: “But I mean the fact is, it's part of your program. It's something that we're talking about. Still probably why he got half a million dollars. That day needs to forever be a day that I made a sand castle with my son. And that's what that will always be.”

Curry: “What do you want to say to people listening right now, young people, who are drinking too much, doing heroin, cutting themselves? What do you say to them about what is possible in life?”

Jolie: “I don’t have the answer for what anyone should be focusing on, but I want to fill my mind with valid issues in the world. Find a way to be useful and have a fight. And you fight for things to be better. Fight hard and there are some amazing fights to be had out there and that is what I didn’t understand at 14 I wanted to fight and, instead, I fought myself and nearly killed myself a lot of times.  Until I realized that I should value life and be so f****** grateful that I have food to give my son, and a roof over my head and a chance to have a long life.”

Curry: “You know, it's amazing to hear you say all this, because when we first met, I would say that you were less focused on the outside on others.”

Jolie: “Yes.”

Curry: “And much more focused on yourself.”

Jolie: “Uh-huh.”

Jolie, now 30, now has come a long way from the days when she was famous for public displays of affection, tattoos and sharing some of the most intimate details of her life. In 2001 she became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has since spent much of her time in developing countries and donated millions of her own money to charity.

Curry: “There has been a tremendous evolution in the space of less than five years. What caused the sea-change in you?”

Jolie: “I know. I grew up. I feel fortunate that I had certain opportunities to have new experiences and to have my eyes opened. I just started to see the world as it really is and it completely shocked me and changed my opinion on everything and on life.”

But perhaps the most life changing event for Jolie was discovering she was a good mother to her son, Maddox.

Jolie: “And then becoming a mom, as any mom will tell, is just-- it's everything. and as long as your kid is healthy and he's okay, nothing can rock you and nothing matters.”

Curry: “You found pure love.”

Jolie: “Yes. And that focus I think when you're a mother that, no matter what your day is like, all this stuff, you know. Get your hair and make-up done. You do an interview, you’re all taken very seriously. Then you come home and then they pee on you, and you just feel like, thank God I know that this is the most important thing. And they keep you so focused on the right things in life.”