LOS ANGELES?Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old actress who stars with Jeff Bridges in the Coen brothers? remake of the classic John Wayne western ?True Grit,? is part Filipina. The sensational newcomer, who is earning raves in the film recently picked to open the Berlin Film Festival in February, told us in a party announcing Miss Golden Globe 2011 that her mother?s dad is Filipino.
Which Angelina Jolie does she like most?the carefree young girl with the colorful off-screen quirks, or the woman she is now? ?I love the woman,? the actress answered during a press conference in a meeting room at the Ritz Carlton in Central Park. Angelina, her lips full and her smoky eyes seductive as usual, added, ?I?m more comfortable with who I am today but that other side of me is still there. It just comes out in better ways. Maybe a little more balanced, but just as wild at heart.?
?It?s funny, when you?re younger, the things that are wild tend to be a tattoo or a thing you do,? Angelina, who stars with Johnny Depp in ?The Tourist,? pointed out. ?When you get older, you seem more tame but instead, you?re traveling to certain countries that give you a more extreme life experience. You?re flying an airplane and you?re having a full, extraordinary wild time with your children. There?s nothing as wonderful as the chaos of a houseful of children. There?s no wild 20-year-old who can compete with that. It?s a different kind of fun and freedom. It?s so calming because somehow all that energy goes somewhere focused now that I?m older.?
?I am very lucky,? declared the famous daughter of Jon Voight and the late Marcheline Bertrand. ?I had a great mother who, even through my wild times, kept me centered in some way. I had the experience of traveling in my early 20s to certain parts of the world where I realized how fortunate I really was and to be grateful and never be selfish. There?s nothing like being a mother. Every single morning, I wake up knowing that the only thing that matters is that I raise the children right and that they?re healthy. Absolutely nothing else is worth anything. It?s such a pleasure to be a part of this business but when you have that gift of knowing what matters, you?re very happy.?
Typically candid and down-to-earth, Angelina didn?t balk when asked what, for her, is love. ?I think love is when you both have the same values and dreams for the future,? she replied. ?That and a really good laugh hold you together. Brad and I are close because we?re exactly on the same page?how important our family is, how we plan to raise the kids, how we teach them everything, from their education to their religion, how we see the world, the way we discipline. We have a similar sense of how we feel we should walk through this life, what?s the right thing to do. We tend to stay on the same side.?
The kids?all six of them?are mommy?s harshest fashion critics. ?They usually find it funny,? Angelina said of her brood?s attitude when they see her dress up. ?They?re very sweet. They?ll say, ?Mommy you look nice.? Or sometimes they?ll say, ?Mommy, you look silly. What are you wearing?? The girls love it when I wear a dress and lipstick. The boys think I look goofy. It all depends on the outfit.?
In director Florian Henckel von Donnersmack?s ?The Tourist,? Angelina?s mysterious character checks into a hotel in Venice and finds glamorous clothes and jewels in her room closet.
A female journalist asked what she would see in the actress? own closet. ?Black,? she said with a laugh. ?We always joke about it with every man I?ve ever been with?my closet is smaller. I don?t like having to think about clothing so I have pants, skirts, tops and T-shirts which are pretty much the same and almost all in black. It?s not out of moodiness but just out of practicality. I have lots of boots. Like most women, you have your secret drawer and your high heels.
Does this mean that Brad?s closet is bigger? ?Possibly,? she quipped with a wicked smile.
In ?The Tourist,? Angelina plays a glamorous English woman, Elise, who crosses paths with Johnny?s Frank on a train traveling from France to Italy. Both cops and thugs chase the couple, mistaking Frank for Elise?s criminal lover who has disappeared. Florian said that he was inspired by such old films as ?To Catch a Thief? and ?North by Northwest.?
The film?s opening scene?Angelina?s stately walk, swaying hips, took some effort from the star. ?My first take was me just walking across the street,? Angelina said. ?Florian made me do it five times. Every time I walked over, he said, ?Slower.? I finally understood that we often rush through life these days. I?m very fast-paced. I had to learn to really enjoy the day, find out what it?s like to take a deep breath, feel the room, understand luxury and being female. My character also has these very deliberate movements that are from these old movies where things are not done sloppily. They?re not false but they?re very carefully done. It was an elegance that I had to work hard to try to achieve.?
Laughing, Angelina remarked: ?This character is hands down more female than I?ve ever played. When we were doing the action scenes, where I had to be thrown on a couch or held hostage and not do anything about it, that was very strange. When somebody jumps on my character?s boat, my instinct was to punch him. They said, ?No, you can?t. You wouldn?t know how to do that.? I said, ?What do I do?? They said, ?First, you retreat.? I thought, ?Oh.?
?And then they said, ?You get a life raft and you bang the man with the life raft.? I thought, ?Really!? It felt so funny because I was in my corset, skirt and heels and pounding this guy with a life raft. Even the woman who I do a lot of stunts with, who was there, couldn?t watch. She was so disturbed that I was so female that she didn?t want to be there.?
Of Johnny, she said: ?It was lovely to have a teammate that you?re playing and doing stunts with all day long. For the romantic side of it, the amount of outtakes of us laughing goes on for about an hour. I don?t know if it?s because we?ve become such good friends or whatever it was but we laughed a lot. We really liked each other.?
The two new pals even got to waltz in one ball scene. ?The dancing was fun but we did have many dance classes together,? Angelina said. ?We did start by stepping on each other?s feet. We couldn?t stop laughing. It was very strange. I thought, we?re never going to get through this because we?re far too goofy. We had to look very elegant. That was a little hard but you?re shooting in Venice, one of the most beautiful places in the world. And working with Johnny and Florian, nothing was hard. You just felt very grateful to be there.?
What kind of a tourist is she in real life? ?I don?t tend to take pictures and all that, she replied. ?I like to jump in. I like to have an experience so wherever I go, I tend to have an adventure, be somewhere I haven?t been, learn about the culture. I?m one of those moms who will bring the kids to the museum or whatever and make them take the tour. I think I?m a good tourist.?
Filming in the canals of Venice did not feed her urge to steer ?fast boats. I was a little frustrated with the nine miles an hour restriction in Venice, especially during a chase scene?very difficult. I like speed but I think you have to enjoy both. I didn?t get to go on a gondola with the kids which would have been nice. I was looking forward to that.?
Asked if Johnny invited the Pitt-Jolie family to visit his Caribbean island, Angelina admitted: ?Oh, yes, Johnny tends to extend that invitation. He?s wonderful, generous about that. He extends his invitation to many people all the time but we haven?t taken him up on it.?
On the controversy surrounding her directorial debut?her permit to film in Bosnia was briefly cancelled due to protests from some folks who maintained that the story portraying a Bosnian woman falling in love with her torturer?Angelina said: ?We had an absolutely wonderful experience. We had all our permits. We were able to shoot in Bosnia. There were a few individuals who had no information on the material, had never read the script, who were concerned about some gossip stories they heard that had no basis in reality. It was explained to them that they had no need for concern. The entire cast and crew were local as the film was shot in two separate languages. It?s very much made for the people.?
Angelina herself wrote the script which led to her first directing job. She narrated how the project, which was also filmed in Hungary, began: ?I had the flu so I was quarantined from the kids. I didn?t know what to do with myself. I was reading and then I started to write. When I finished, I didn?t intend to do anything with it. But Brad read it and said, ?It?s not so bad, honey. You should think about doing something with it.??
?Then a lot of the pieces came together. I started to send the script out to people I respected. I got a lot of positive feedback. I had such a wonderful cast and crew. It was such an extraordinary experience that I will forever be grateful for. It made me fall in love with film all over again. I was so excited to take that spotlight off myself and put it on these other extraordinary actors and make them shine. It was a pleasure. It was better than doing it myself.?
Angelina promised that we?ll get to see her untitled film next year.
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.