While some of Angelina Jolie’s most famous roles include the action-packed likes of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) and Salt (2010), the actress has been relatively quiet on the stunt front over the past decade, instead focusing on more family-friendly fare (the Maleficent and Kung Fu Panda movies) and going behind the camera as a director (Unbroken, First They Killed My Father).
The new cat-and-mouse thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead, however, marks a return to action for the 45-year-old actress, humanitarian and mother of six. Jolie stars as a smoke jumper reeling from PTSD who finds herself protector of a preteen murder witness (Finn Little) seeking shelter in the Montana wilderness.
“For me it’s always different times in your life you’re looking to express something different, or feel something hasn’t been seen before,” Jolie tells Yahoo Entertainment (watch above) about what drew her to the latest film from co-writer and director Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Wind River) and based on the novel by Michael Koryta. “And even though in some way this kind of thriller, we think we’ve seen before, there’s a lot that is different. And Taylor, the way he has been telling stories, especially about America through robust storytelling, it just felt like a world that I wanted to jump into and see if I could make it through.”
The characters played by Jolie and Little are put through the wringer, not only facing off against assassins hunting them but also treacherous wildfires and lightning strikes. Jolie once again did many of her own stunts, and says she’s rarely fazed by their dangers.
“Either I don’t scare easy or when I’m working I’m in a different headspace,” she says. “You’re so lucky as an actor. Even if you’re doing a big crazy stunt and you’re on top of a truck on a freeway doing your thing, you have your rig, it’s been tested, so you get to be pretty brave and have a lot of people looking after you.”
For the young Australian actor Little, there was a scare factor in meeting the world-famous Jolie, whom he’d become a fan of watching Maleficent and Tomb Raider.
Little says he was “very” nervous to meet the Oscar winner. “In the audition, when I was flown over to L.A., I felt like I was going to faint. I was so nervous. And then on the first day on set when I worked with her, I was nervous as well but then I just realized she’s a nice, normal person, and there’s no need to be afraid of her.”
The nervousness around working with Jolie even extended to her adult co-stars, Medina Senghore and Jon Bernthal. “The first day that she and I were on set at the same time, I was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to go over and say anything to her because if I do I’m going to babble and it’s going to be awkward and I’ll probably get banned from set,’” admitted Senghore. “But she was so kind and generous and came over and spoke to me. And she’s just lovely and someone I admire not just for her work from afar, but for her humanitarian work and it’s great when you meet someone who you admire from afar and then they turn out to be just as incredible or more than you imagined.”
Those Who Wish Me Dead is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.
— Video produced by Jenny Miller and edited by John Santo
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