Angelina Jolie Opens Up About "Absurd" Chicken Pox, Showing Louis Zamperini 'Unbroken'
"I came here worried about him, and … he wanted me to put a smile on my face and wanted me to know it was OK"
Unbroken director Angelina Jolie recently had to skip the film's big U.S. premiere after she learned that she had chicken pox. It was an unusual occurrence, which Jolie described as "so absurd" in a taped interview that aired on Friday's Today.
But she said she had a feeling something was wrong the day before she was diagnosed with the disease.
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"What I think was even stranger was during the day before, I was trying to do interviews and I kept thinking, 'What? What's happening to me?' " she said as she touched spots on her neck and hands.
Jolie's husband, Brad Pitt, and their kids stepped in for her at the event, and Jolie said her children were aware of the importance of the task.
"They took it very seriously when I said 'You've got to represent Mom,' " she told Al Roker.
Jolie also opened up about the experience of showing Unbroken subject Louis Zamperini an unfinished cut of the film while he was in the hospital shortly before he died this past July.
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"I was watching somebody at the end of their life watch their life, remember their friends who died, remember their mother and how she made gnocchi, remembering when he crossed those finish lines and held that plank out," Jolie recalled. "I think he was just … he was preparing to pass away when he was watching the film. But before I left the hospital room, he told me a really inappropriate joke … and I left the room smiling. I came here worried about him, and I was going to leave crying, and instead he wanted me to put a smile on my face and wanted me to know it was OK, and he took care of me. … That's who Louis was. Louis was greater than we could ever put onscreen."
Jolie's Oscar hopeful was noticeably snubbed by the Golden Globes last month, but the director insisted the audience's response was the most important one.
"We've had some lovely responses and lovely accolades, but nothing beats the audience responding to it," she said. "That's, obviously, when you make this kind of a film, all of the other stuff is wonderful, but it means nothing if the audience doesn't connect to it, because this film is made for them. That would have been heartbreaking for us if we didn't connect to the audience, so we're over the moon."
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Jolie was also optimistic about the prospect of more female directors helming studio movies.
When asked if she hoped the door would open for talented women to work behind the camera, Jolie said, "Yes, and I'm sure it will. I know many great, talented women who just need those breaks, because I've seen their work on a smaller scale, so they're coming."
Watch Jolie's full Today interview below.