Angelina Jolie Chokes Up Thanking Family of Late 'Unbroken' Subject During Promo Tour

"Thank you for letting me tell his story," the filmmaker told the children of Louis Zamperini, adding, "It was the joy of my life to know him and to direct this film"
Universal
Angelina Jolie and 'Unbroken' subject Louis Zamperini shortly before his death in 2014

After unveiling Unbroken — her second directorial effort and the last high-profile Oscar hopeful of the season to screen for pundits — on Sunday in Los Angeles, Angelina Jolie headed to New York, where she and her colleagues on the war-set drama have spent the week putting on the full-court press with awards voters and press.

On Thursday evening, at post-screening dinner at Porterhouse in the Time Warner Center, Jolie, who is usually somewhat guarded, mixed and mingled with a crowd that included dozens of members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (aka Golden Globe voters, who had earlier in the day participated in the film's press junket), Academy members such as Jodie Foster and M. Night Shyamalan and other tastemakers including 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft — as well as her Unbroken stars Jack O'Connell, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Finn Wittrock. (Michael Moore and Barbara Walters, among others, attended the screening but not the dinner; Brad Pitt apparently had the night off entirely.)

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Also in attendance were the two children of Unbroken's subject and Jolie's close friend Louis Zamperini (who died in July at the age of 97), Cissy Zamperini and Luke Zamperini, to whom Jolie spoke after being introduced by Universal chief Ron Meyer and chair Donna Langley. Choking up, she said, "Thank you for letting me tell his story. It was the joy of my life to know him and to direct this film." She then turned over the mic to Comcast chief Brian Roberts, who told the gathered crowd that he had been in Washington, D.C. at a meeting with President Obama on Wednesday and, while there, picked up a surprise for the Zamperinis, which he gave to Jolie to hand to them: a Congressional proclamation celebrating the courage and service to the United States of Zamperini. The three then embraced.

This all came on the heels of another Peggy Siegal-coordinated event on Tuesday, a luncheon at the regal Metropolitan Club at which Jolie was seated with media elite including Huffington Post chief Arianna Huffington, CBS This Morning's Gayle King, Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell and ABC's Good Morning America and This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos. Dozens of Academy members — from actresses Dana Ivey and Lois Smith to documentarian Laura Poitras to animator Jimmy Picker — dined at nearby tables and then listened to a Q&A, moderated by Stephanopoulos, with Jolie and her stars.

The whole company now heads back to Los Angeles to conduct additional promotional activities right up until opening day, including another dinner on Dec. 8 and luncheon on Dec. 14 (at which Coldplay’s Chris Martin will perform “Miracles,” his original song that is featured in the film). The film strikes me as a likely hit and Oscar nominee—but if it isn’t, it won’t be for lack of effort on the part of those who made it.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg

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