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Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken hasn’t even opened yet, but Universal’s big Oscar hopeful has already hit a few rough patches. Last week, it was shut out of both the SAG Award and Golden Globe Award nominations. And then Jolie came down with the chickenpox, which precluded her from attending the film’s official DGA and Academy screenings and Q&As and will also keep her from attending its Los Angeles premiere this week. None of that will help the film’s opening weekend box office on Dec. 25 or its eventual Oscar prospects.
But the film did get a much-needed boost of adrenaline on Sunday when Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, whose original song “Miracles” plays over the film’s closing credits, flew in from London to give a special performance at a cocktail party packed with Academy members — including some from its music branch who will determine the best original song nominees — many of whom also were bummed by Jolie’s absence.
You can watch Martin’s entire 15-minute set in the video below.
“As it happens, I play here every Sunday,” the 37-year-old cracked as he took the stage at the Fig & Olive, adding, “I left a tip jar at the front — about five dollars is average, per song, so that would be great — so we can work on the next Unbroken, Unbroken 2: Rebroken and Reunbroken, which will be coming out in 2021. See ya there!”
As dozens of Academy members crowded around, taking video with their smartphones, he proceeded to play “Miracles,” as well as the Coldplay hit “Viva La Vida” — and then engaged in a duet with the film’s supporting actor Garrett Hedlund (who sang with Martin’s wife Gwyneth Paltrow, from whom he is separated, in Country Strong) of “White Christmas.”
After “Miracles,” Martin jokingly requested that anyone who posted video of his rendition include a “disclaimer” noting that he was aware that he had “f—ed up” the middle portion of it, attributing the blooper to the early hour, 2 p.m. PST, at least early by rock star standards. He then said to the Oscar voters, “You’re free to leave now … put your vote in, whatever you want to do. Or don’t. I don’t give a f—. I’s not going to affect my life one bit. But it would be lovely.” He added with a chuckle, “I know that’s not really what you’re supposed to say!”
Despite — or perhaps because of — the playful ribbing, Martin received a standing ovation at the end of the set.
During an interview prior to taking the stage, Martin told THR, with tongue firmly in cheek, how he came to the project: “I got a text or something from someone that said, ‘Angelina Jolie is looking for you’ — which is a text you always want to get — and I said, ‘Okay, where does she need me?’ And then I got called to Universal and taken through a system of tunnels and security systems and frisked, and then I was told I was allowed to meet her, eventually. They hosed me down and I was ushered in and she said, ‘Hi, do you still play music?’ I said, ‘I do, yeah. I’m in Coldplay’ And she said, ‘We’re looking for a song at the end of the movie,’ and I said, ‘How much do you need, money-wise?’ She said, ‘Give me six million.’ I said, ‘Okay,’ so we exchanged — she said, ‘You can do the song.'”
“Then she played me a clip — that’s actually true,” he continued. “She played me a lot of clips and then she gave me the book. The movie was somewhat finished and it was amazing — over at the side of the office was all the storyboards and everything. It was exciting. And then I read the book that night — very quickly — and then I suggested it to the band and then we did it.” (He and the band had previously contributed only one other song to a movie: “Atlas” for last year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, for which they received Golden Globe and Grammy nominations.)
And how quickly did “Miracles” come together? “About 10 minutes to write,” he said, “but then to record it takes a lot longer.” He was inspired by the unlikely nature of Zamperini’s journey — “People go through insane stuff and come out the other side” — while also connecting to the idea of miracles on a different, personal level, as well: “I keep seeing it in my own life. All of these marvelous things happen — miracles.” He added, “You have to feel it, otherwise you can’t do it. And I did, and we’re so happy to be a part of [the film].”
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