'Unbroken' Cinematographer Reveals What It's Like Having Angelina Jolie as a Director

Roger Deakins shares what it was like working with the superstar actress

Although the WWII biopic Unbroken is based off a New York Times bestseller from an acclaimed author, the film has garnered most of its attention from its director’s notoriety. Angelina Jolie’s second outing as a director, Unbroken will make a late push for Oscar nominations when it hits theaters on Christmas day.

During the Cinematographer Roundtable, however, DP Roger Deakins told The Hollywood Reporter that the size and scope of the film wasn’t necessarily in competition with Jolie’s star persona at its helm.  “A number of people have said ‘the size and scope’ of it, but actually it’s a very, kind of personal film, in essence it’s one guy’s experience, so I’m not sure they’re really related,” he said.

At the same time though, her primary role as an actress never detracted from her authority in the director’s chair. “She's very low-key, but, you know, the director's the director –they don't need to establish their authority. Every director is different; every situation is different,” Deakins concluded.

Shooting in Australia was no exception; “There are so many elements: We were shooting on water; we were shooting in this B-24 supposedly flying on a bombing raid. I mean, it was crazy,” he said.

Watch more Angelina Jolie's Best Red-Carpet Looks So Far

Add to that the fact that Deakins is a self-admitted “nervous wreck” each time he starts to shoot a movie and you’ll understand why it would take him hours to get the lighting for a single scene just right. But the realization that he’s not the only one who gets the pre-production jitters has helped him along the way. “[Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid DP] Connie Hall once said to me, ‘I get so nervous before I start a film.’ He said: ‘I get on the set on the first day, and I look through the eyepiece because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. And I'm frozen.’ And I think, ‘Thank God there's somebody else that's like that.’”

The Cinematographer Roundtable also featured Into the Woods' Dion Beebe, Gone Girl's Jeff Cronenweth, The Theory of Everything's Benoit Delhomme, Noah's Matthew Libatique, and Mr. Turner's Dick Pope. Watch the full conversation here.