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As the credits rolled on their new World War II era drama Allied, and the audience at the Regency Village Theatre in L.A.’s Westwood burst into rapturous applause, co-stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and director Robert Zemeckis couldn’t hide their excitement as they waited in the wings for the post-screening Q&A.
The threesome were all smiles Wednesday as they sat down to discuss the film about a Canadian Intelligence officer who, during the second World War, encounters a French Resistance fighter in Morocco and falls in love, only to have the relationship tested once they attempt to build a life together during the height of the war.
“I’ve never had princess dreams when I was a kid, but I really wanted to be an actress, because I was a big fan of Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo and all the glamour of this era,” Cotillard said of her excitement to take on this role. “To be part of such a beautiful, strong, deep and yet glamorous movie, that’s my princess dream.”
Indeed, Allied is an homage to the movies of a bygone era, complete with Lawrence of Arabia-esque sweeping vistas and stormy exterior scenes all shot inside a soundstage. “We have wonderful digital tools so we can create set extensions and sand dunes and all that stuff digitally now,” said Zemeckis. The audience laughed as the director admitted, “Anytime I can stay indoors, I do,” crediting his experience in making digital films for the past few years for giving him tools to make a movie that looks real but is digital. Some of the throwback scenes, where Pitt and Cotillard appear to be in a moving vehicle when in reality the car is stationary and the background is added later, “was a really fun experience for us and it lends itself to this story particularly well,” Pitt revealed.
In his first red carpet appearance since the announcement of his divorce from Angelina Jolie, and one day after the father of six was cleared in a child abuse investigation, the 52-year-old appeared to be in good spirits. He made his first public appearance the night prior to co-host a screening of Moonlight with Julia Roberts, but Allied was his first red carpet event.
Pitt’s French co-star gently mocked his Parisian accent and lack of dance skills and Cotillard in turn took a ribbing about her gun wielding. The actress admitted this was an area where she was lacking. “I had training before we started shooting, and the first shooting scene was a disaster,” she laughed. The director told her to take 30 minutes and practice some more, but also told Cotillard, “I can see that you hate guns — I need you to love guns.” Pitt quipped, “It’s very American.”
While the talk’s moderator pointed out that Pitt has made a fair share of WWII films, the actor insisted he doesn’t have a World War fetish. “I have a fetish for story,” he said. “It just so happens to land in World War II.” All three were struck by Steven Knight’s script about love, war and betrayal, which was loosely based on a true story. “It came off the page,” Zemeckis raved, revealing that the script is a largely fictionalized version of real-life circumstances that were, admittedly, far less epic.
Joked Pitt: “It would have made a much shorter movie.”
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