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Angelina Jolie Rehearsed the ‘Unbroken’ Stunts Herself to Earn Cast’s Trust

Angelina Jolie Rehearsed the 'Unbroken' Stunts Herself to Earn Cast's Trust

If recent years have proved anything, it’s that female directors are just as talented, creative and badass as any of their male counterparts. From Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first female Best Director Oscar winner for “The Hurt Locker,” to Ava DuVernay becoming the first black woman nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe just this morning, female directors are on the rise. This year, Angelina Jolie is no exception. Despite being shut out of the Golden Globe nominations this morning, her second directorial outing, “Unbroken,” has earned good reviews, with our critic calling it a “solid wartime drama.” 

The film follows the inspirational story of Louis Zamperini, who, after racing in the 1936 Olympic games, became a POW during WWII. He and his comrades endured over a month at sea after their plane crashed in the Pacific, only to be tortured by the Japanese towards the end of the war. Last week, Jolie and her cast — including Jack O’Connell, who plays Zamperini, Japanese musician Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Finn Whittrock — sat for a Q&A session moderated by MOMA’s Rajendra Roy. While the topics of discussion ranged from each of the actors’ character work, to spirituality and inspiration, one of the most intriguing moments came when O’Connell and the rest of the cast relayed how they put their faith in Jolie when it came to the film’s demanding physical work. 

“There were times when I’d arrive on set and Angelina would be rehearsing my stunts!” he said. “The mind will always allege to yourself that you’re gonna give up, that your body’s going to give up way before your actual tolerance level. To be in a position to portray a true story, it does remind us of the boundaries. I like the term human spirit.”
It’s no surprise that Jolie was willing to go to the same level as her actors. Having been an actor herself, she knows how difficult it can be to combine the emotional demands of playing a role with additional physical challenges. “Everybody who came into this had such a great respect for the men who came before,” she said. “There was nothing that they could suffer that was remotely comparable to what these men actually went through. And we all knew that, it was never a question, no one ever complained. But we speak about the mind and spirit, there’s something we can’t understand. Louis held that beam over his head and it’s on record. All of the other prisoners wrote it in their diaries. And he held it for 37 minutes and never dropped it until he was beaten. He could never explain it himself, what took over. Jack actually tried to hold it…how long did you hold it for?” 

To see his hilarious response, check out the complete Q&A below:

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