Angelina Jolie’s latest film role is one she can personally relate to in many ways.
The 45-year-old actress stars in Taylor Sheridan’s survival thriller, Those Who Wish Me Dead, portraying a smoke jumper named Hannah Faber who finds herself grappling with PTSD after experiencing a tragedy on the job and blaming herself for it, but ultimately finding strength to overcome life’s obstacles. While speaking with ET on Monday, Jolie opened up about going through a period in her own personal life where she felt broken, much like her character.
“We all have times in our lives where we feel broken, and I was in a period like that,” Jolie admitted to ET’s Nischelle Turner. “I’ve had my share of things that made me feel… you know, hard to speak too much about it, but just overwhelming or broken. So to have an opportunity, I feel very lucky. I wish all women could have this at times in their lives.”
“I’ve had this many times in my life. When my mom passed away [from cancer in 2007] I did want it, you know? It’s apart of something when you feel you just want to kind of hide under the covers or you’re not sure what you got left in you,” she continued. “You get an opportunity and I would encourage anybody to do it. You’re not a film actor, doesn’t matter. Go somewhere, see what you got in you. Put yourself against the elements, or try something you’ve never tried and kind of try to rediscover that strength within.”
Jolie said that one of the ways she tries to anchor her self-worth in is with her “use to others.”
“I think that’s always been, or at least being a parent before then, just contribution. I think that’s what I try to tell my kids,” she revealed. “It’s you can try a bit of this, you can do this with your life, but at the end of the day, what’s your contribution? What’s your contribution to others, you know?”
Jolie’s new movie was filmed in 2019, three years after she filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. The two share six children together — Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12. Jolie admitted to ET that she found it a bit difficult trying to downplay her motherly instincts while filming scenes with 14-year-old Finn Little, who plays a traumatized boy named Connor Casserly in the film.
“It wasn’t just that [my character] doesn’t have kids, she doesn’t really know or I’m not even sure if she likes kids,” Jolie explained. “That was the biggest note I got from [director] Taylor — like, stop being so, you’re being too nice to him, you’re being too empathetic, you’re being too right.'”
“You get into it, but yeah, her language around him, it was weird at first, and then it was oddly freeing,” she added. “Finn was so tough and so fun, so it made it easier to kind of be really weird with him, beat him up a little bit and be strange [on set] and he knew it was OK. A different kid might’ve got his feelings hurt or found me really weird, but he found it funny.”
Finn chimed in, telling ET some of the fun ways he built a bond with Jolie, both on and off set.
“We would hang out some weekends, whether it was going airsofting or stuff like that, but I just feel like we had a good relationship on set because we were working with each other quite often,” he said. “We just sort of got comfortable with each other and went from there.”
“Airsofting is like paintball, but it’s these little plastic pellets and we did it one weekend with Angie and her kids,” he continued. “She was all right, I’ll give [her] that.”
Last month, Jolie also talked about how the human side of the movie is what drew her to the project, which marks her first true onscreen action role in over a decade.
“I am drawn to people who have been through something and are broken and then find their way forward and overcome it,” the actress shared in an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the thriller. “As an artist, it’s very healing to play people like that. She’s been very healing for me, because you just get so broken and then you stand back up.”
“On its surface, it feels like a great thriller, a great adventure across an unusual terrain inside a great fire,” she added. “Underneath it, it’s a really emotional film. It’s about people who have a great impact on each other and change each other. Emotionally and practically, they go through the fire.”
Those Who Wish Me Dead is in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max May 14.
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