Hollywood star Angelina Jolie spoke to SPIEGEL about her views on mixing acting and politics, her nomadic life with Brad Pitt and her new film "A Mighty Heart," in which she plays the wife of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl.
SPIEGEL: Ms Jolie, in your new film "A Mighty Heart" you play the wife of the American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan in 2002 and later beheaded. Your most intimate screen partner during the film is a mobile phone. How do you deal with that as an actor?
Angelina Jolie: There was actually something strange about the phone, because Marianne Pearl was never without her phone. It was a constant, every day on the set. My phone was so attached to me, I couldn't let go of it. One day on the set, the phone rang accidentally. Someone had called a wrong number but because it was this movie everybody got all sweaty.
SPIEGEL: Is the mobile phone a suitable tool to convey emotions? In the film you send a tender text message to the missing Daniel Pearl every night.
Jolie: I think it's a sign of our times, something that people can relate to.
SPIEGEL: And do you send many text messages yourself?
Jolie: No, I don't really send messages. I rarely carry my phone. I occasionally check messages at the end of the night, but I don't carry it around.
SPIEGEL: You once said in an interview: "I never cry." In the film, Mariane Pearl cries only twice -- when she hears that her husband was murdered, and when she's giving birth to her child. Do you think crying should be reserved strictly for matters of life and death?
Jolie: I didn't cry when I was giving birth. I was screaming! And I cry in other parts of the film. I'm very careful with my emotions, and I don't let them run free. If I'm upset, it's usually for a very good, very deep reason.
SPIEGEL: There's a wonderful scene in the movie where you go outside in the yard and are totally frightened about what's happened. And, then, as you see a child behind you, you stop crying and try to smile so that you don't frighten the child. It was very authentic.
Jolie: To be honest, that wasn't a planned moment. That just happened. The little girl lived in the house, and she would go wherever she wanted to go when we were filming. And sometimes she would come in and be in the kitchen. I didn't know when she was outside. I just felt like leaving the room, when I got upset. So I walked outside and, then, when I turned around and realized she was there, I felt really bad that I'd scared her. So, that was just a natural reaction and probably something that I would do with my own kids.
SPIEGEL: You've travelled to countries like Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Pakistan as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Were you often faced with situations in which you had to control and hide your emotions?
Jolie: Yes, mainly because you don't want somebody to know that you feel sorry for them, because they will feel worse, or because you don't want someone to know or see your fear. If someone like a sick kid or a burn victim sees your fear, they respond to how you respond. And if you show them it's terrible, they will get upset. It's something I've learned over the years.
SPIEGEL: When do you let out your pent-up emotions?
Jolie: I cry secretly. I don't really cry in front of anybody. As Brad will tell you, I hate crying. I have this practical self. I feel like it's not accomplishing anything. But when I lost my mother, I cried, and I cried big.
SPIEGEL: So, has being a mother made you more domesticated?
Jolie: No. People seem to think that. But, you know, I'm playing an assassin in a movie now! I'm quite tough. It takes more courage to actually learn about an issue or maybe go to Washington and try to push for a change in a law, because it makes you nervous and it matters so much. It doesn't take courage to drink too much and be wild or jump around. That doesn't take any kind of boldness, just riding a motorcycle or whatever the idea of being tough is. Tough is having four kids. Tough is committing to life and being disciplined.
SPIEGEL: Should all actors follow your example and get involved in politics?
Jolie: I don't necessarily think that's a natural role for an actor. Sometimes acting and politics make a very bad combination. I think that sometimes people take me less seriously in my work for the UN because I am an actor.
SPIEGEL: In many Western countries people don't trust politicians any more. Are stars now taking over the role of moral leaders?
Jolie: I really hope not! I think we should be looking for great leaders in people who have dedicated their lives to those issues. And the reality is that actors spend a great deal of their time making films. And that doesn't mean that they're not educated. But we haven't gone to law school and we're not experts on policy. We're just people with a platform and an opinion. But that should never be enough, in my opinion, to be political.
SPIEGEL: Can you picture yourself going into politics?
Jolie: I'm able to be very effective now because I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican. So, I'm not tied, and I'd never want to be tied to anything, to some constituency that I would have to answer to.
SPIEGEL: Is acting similar to politics in that regard?
Jolie: It's interesting that, years ago, when leaders couldn't poll people and have their speechwriters analyze what would be best to put in a speech, leaders made a decision and they made strong decisions. If polled, they may have made different decisions. And I think unfortunately today so many things are done this way, because the movies are done the same way. They'll re-shoot an ending because somebody polled that they didn't like it and maybe the original ending was more interesting, but it's not as popular.
SPIEGEL: Do you feel rooted in any particular place?
Jolie: I think when you have kids it's nice to have a place where they can always return to and some place where they will grow up in, but I never had that. I'm not attached to things and places. I like that we keep moving. But we will always have one base, so that the kids will have something familiar and permanent.
SPIEGEL: Will Berlin be your base? There are reports that you have bought an apartment in the city.
Jolie: Brad and I both love Berlin. But, for now, everybody finds it good to pack up and go. It's a nomadic life, and I think that that's a great life. I'm excited when we take our kids to a new country and they don't just immediately look for the comforts of home. They blend into that country. When we were in India, Maddox would come to the set and play with all the Indian kids. They'd throw rocks and sticks, and they'd hit things. Some of them couldn't understand the other's language, but it didn't matter. We went to Namibia, and we were playing with all the Bushman kids. Send them to any place in the world and they won't be scared. They'll just feel like they can make friends there.
SPIEGEL: Has having children changed the way you see the world?
Jolie: Children teach you so much. You take another look at life when you have a child. Everything is new again for you. They ground you. And they are the funniest people I've ever met in my life.
SPIEGEL: Not Brad?
Jolie: No, he doesn't get a look in.
SPIEGEL: Do you and Brad talk about your work? Do you influence each other's decisions?
Jolie: We never really discuss each other's work other than to encourage each other to do what we think is right. Sometimes we think the other is making a ridiculous choice, but it doesn't matter. The center of our life is our home and kids. We're trying to learn more about global issues and politics together. That's the only thing we ever argue about. Brad is really focused on his production company and films, but we both plan to do a lot less of that in the next few years.
This interview was conducted by Lars-Olav Beier and Andreas Borcholte.
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