Angelina Jolie explains why she’s taking acting roles: ‘I needed to just do shorter jobs’

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I was quite pleased with the trailer for Those Who Wish Me Dead, which is Angelina Jolie’s new movie, directed by Taylor Sheridan. It actually looks like the kind of thing which could have easily been a Liam Neeson vehicle, which makes it interesting that Angelina is leaning hard into the action-star vibe post-Pitt. To promote the film (which is on HBO Max on May 14), Jolie chatted with Entertainment Weekly about why she took the role, why she hasn’t directed anything recently and why it was hard working with a child actor (Finn Little, who plays Connor). Some highlights:

The hardest part of the shoot: The 45-year-old actress stars in Taylor Sheridan’s survival thriller as Hannah, a brusque, no-nonsense firefighter tasked with protecting a shell-shocked 12-year-old (Finn Little). As Hannah reluctantly guides the young boy through the Montana wilderness, Jolie — herself a mom of six — found it difficult to suppress her own parental instincts. “My character is not maternal by nature,” Jolie tells EW with a laugh. “Sometimes Taylor would correct me because my behavior towards a child was different from [Hannah's] behavior towards a child. It took me a little bit to treat [Little] badly, but I got there!”

Why she’s taking more acting roles: “I love directing, but I had a change in my family situation that’s not made it possible for me to direct for a few years,” says the star, who has been in divorce proceedings with Brad Pitt and custody battles over their children since 2016. “I needed to just do shorter jobs and be home more, so I kind of went back to doing a few acting jobs. That’s really the truth of it.”

Working with Taylor Sheridan: “He has a unique voice when it comes to characters within America, which had not been a prior focus of my work. I wanted to be in this world with him.”

Directing has changed the way she views acting: “In very technical terms, I’m more aware of what the director needs, and what other challenges they’re facing, and how many different pieces are moving,” she explains. For Those Who Wish Me Dead, that meant a heightened respect — and patience — for the film’s complicated set pieces. “Maybe when you’re younger and you’re having a huge day where you have to be cold and wet and emotional and crying, you’re thinking about those things,” Jolie adds. “Now you’ve directed and you’re older, and you realize that while you are going to be freezing and crying, there’s also pyrotechnics going on, or multiple other situations. It pulls you out of yourself.”

Jolie met with her “smoke jumpers”: Smoke jumpers are firefighters who parachute into forest fires. Jolie met with several of them for insight into the perilous world of smoke jumping. “The first day we were in the fire, [I noticed] the heat and how quickly the winds would change and how quickly the fire would suddenly take to a tree that you weren’t expecting,” she says. “Our respect just grew day after day for these people on the front lines and how difficult this work is.”

She loves that her character is grounded in realism: “There’s nothing about this character that trained in martial arts or did anything special. I get pretty beaten up through this.”

[From EW]

EW also quotes from Finn Little, the child actor, who seems to adore Jolie. Finn says: “She sort of walked me through it and made sure I was safe.She went out of her way to make me feel really accepted.” Give Angelina a family drama where she plays a harried mom, come on. She clearly loves working with kids! As for Angelina talking about why she’s taking more acting roles… I get it. She probably saw herself just being a director-only in her 40s, but she needed the work and she needed the money. I’m really glad she’s back to acting, even if it’s just out of necessity for her. And I’m glad those parts were there for her!

Angelina Jolie arrives at the EE British Academy Film Awards, Bafta Awards, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, Great Britain, on 18 February 2018. - NO WIRE SERVICE - Photo: Hubert Boesl/Hubert Boesl/

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros, Avalon Red.

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29 Responses to “Angelina Jolie explains why she’s taking acting roles: ‘I needed to just do shorter jobs’”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    I’m excited for this.

    -signed, someone who is still salty that Salt 2 went into pre production purgatory.

  2. josephine says:

    She looks so much like her Mom in that top pic – wow!

    I saw a preview for the movie – looks like a fun, mindless action movie that I totally need at the moment!

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      I think she’s had some fillers or gained a little weight?
      Either way it is 100% working for her.
      She looks so much better now and I’m happy for what that means for her and her children

  3. TQ says:

    I really like Taylor Sheridan’s prior works, particularly Hell or High Water and Sicario. He tells underdog stories in a particularly gripping way. Very excited to see Angelina Jolie in this one — looks thrilling. Go Angelina!

    • Deering24 says:

      As well, scripter Michael Kortya is a terrific author in general. He’s written a batch of ace bestselling ghost stories/thrillers and this movie is based on one of them.

  4. Myra says:

    I’ve noticed that a few of her costars have said that she helps them navigate their way about, she looks out for them. It’s great to know that acting vets are helping out the new cohorts. For a long while, it has felt like a-dog-eat-dog-world culture. It probably helps too that the Rubins, the Weinsteins, and all those similarly-abusive monsters are being outed. It makes for a safer climate for new actors, especially child actors.

  5. Zut alors says:

    I don’t think she’s getting the scripts and offers she once did. Her time has come and gone. I wonder if she regrets putting the brakes on her career as she did when she was with Pitt. He certainly did not allow his career to take a backseat.

    • Lily P says:

      I still think she’s getting good diverse offers (especially for women of her age in Hollywood – eyerolled at myself for this). Eternals is going to be huge, this could have been without covid and she’s got a few other projects lined up.

      Pitt’s films don’t necessarily do astoundingly well either especially ones without a stacked cast – Ad Astra and Allied (whatever it was called) come to mind. So I don’t think her time has come and gone as such.

      • Zut alors says:

        @Silent Star
        I think she’s gone full bore with the Botox and possibly fillers in the last couple of years. It’s surprising to me that it’s very noticeable. If you look at pics from 2012, she was using it but it was subtle. Now, it’s quite obvious. I guess she’s dealing with the same insecurities as everyone else in Hollywood.

    • iconoclast59 says:

      The men in suits don’t know what to do with actresses like Angie who are still stunning as they enter middle age. They consider her too “hot” for mom or housewife roles, but too “old” to play the romantic interest, even with actors her own age. Fortunately, that’s starting to change, but still too slowly for my liking.

      • Silent Star says:

        As much as I agree she’s still hot, I did get immediately distracted by her plastic surgery. It looked very out of place to me in a film that takes place in the back woods.

        I guess it’s a double edged sword, as I realize that without the surgery she might also be overlooked for roles.

    • lucy2 says:

      I would agree she’s not a top of the list name as she once was, but I imagine she still gets plenty of offers. And that happens to most actors, they’re a hot commodity for a while and then someone else comes along.

  6. Charlotte says:

    She is so Beautiful and the movie looks so cool!! 😳

  7. chimes@midnight says:

    Single mother sets aside career goals ‘for now’ so she can be more present and involved with her children? #relatable

  8. Mireille says:

    She’s a single mom who needs to continue to take acting jobs because its pays well and she can financially support her family. But even with all that, she still manages to donate at least 1.5. million to mission-driven and social justice causes last year. No matter what she’s going through, she still think of those who are not so fortunate (or well off) as her. That’s just balls for you or as one tweet that I read last night puts it so eloquently Angie’s a badass who became even a badder badass as the years go by.

    She’s always talked about winding down her acting career, but now circumstances surrounding her family, won’t allow that. I hate that this forces to continue to take on more jobs, but I am so thrilled to see her on the screen again (me being selfish fan).

  9. Elo says:

    This looks really good.
    I’m happy to see she still has roles like this into her mid 40s.

  10. Kkat says:

    I’ve always loved her and her movies, so selfishly I’m glad she is back.
    Her kids are getting older so I hope she can do what she wants career wise soon.
    But I will enjoy this new era

  11. Lively says:

    I can’t wait for this

  12. Katie says:

    This looks like a great movie, it’s on my three movie list to see in theaters this year.

  13. ShazBot says:

    Happy that it’s coming to HBO Max.

    She always talked about how she really threw herself into directing projects, so it makes sense that she just doesn’t have that time and probably even mental/emotional capacity to do that right now.

    I hope the divorce gets wrapped up soon for all of their sakes, and I’m sure she’ll breathe an even bigger sigh of relief in 5 years when all the kids are legal adults, and their relationship as parents to minor children is done.

  14. Darla says:

    I’m not interested in this film, but I can’t wait for The Eternals and I think she’s going to be great for that.

  15. Agreatreckoning says:

    Looking forward to this movie and have always liked that photo of her in the black shirt. She is beautiful.

  16. Bendy Windy says:

    I think this looks really good. I haven’t felt the need to go to a theater in awhile and have in fact been actively avoiding it, even now that I’m vaccinated. I might make an exception for this.

  17. A says:

    It’s really telling and sad to me that a woman, a mother, has to have her financial and professional situations impacted in such a way because of the actions of her petty ex-husband. I don’t think Angelina Jolie is complaining about working, I’m sure she’s happy to work in whatever capacity she can, but what professional consequences has Brad Pitt had to suffer so far in all of this? He still gets roles; he got an Oscar for one of them just last year. He is still able to produce critically acclaimed films.

    That’s the difference in career trajectory, when you can have the option to be an emotionally abusive, deadbeat dad, whose own children won’t speak to him, who doesn’t have to spend the time, money, and effort to ensure that his kids have a stable, caring environment where their emotional needs are validated, and consistently met. You get all that free time to do other things, like scream to the tabloid press about how your ex-wife is a b-tch, make a movie with Tarantino, etc.

    I hope Angie gets all that money, and much more than just that.

  18. Jenn says:

    I kept thinking I was seeing young James Spader in this trailer, but it was actually old Jake Weber 😭