Spotlight By: Benjamin Lee

For all of her haters, it’s worth noting that without Angelina Jolie in the world, tabloid magazines would be forced to write even more about Paris Hilton. Okay so she’s done an enormous amount of charity work as well.

In fact, UN Ambassador Jolie is the hardest-working celebrity out there when it comes to charity. She’s also the mother of three young children which has meant we’ve seen little of her onscreen of late. Her last movie was the notorious Mr and Mrs Smith and in her new offering The Good Shepherd, Jolie sticks to similar territory. That of espionage.

The film sees Jolie play the wife of Edward Wilson, a man who witnesses the rise of the CIA while missing out on spending time with his family. It’s a true story and one which Jolie was fascinated with, even if this time her spy work was all done from home.

‘My character has nothing to do with the spy stuff’ she admits, ‘But I am fascinated by not so much espionage but the inner workings of the people who hold so much power in our country.’ It wasn’t just the story which attracted her though. The film is directed by screen legend Robert DeNiro. ‘Obviously I think Eric Roth is a great writer and Robert DeNiro is an amazing director and it’s a great story about a fascinating time in our country’s history’ she states, ‘For me it was a really interesting character – a woman who goes through so many different changes. There were a lot of good reasons to do it.’

For the typically glamorous star, the role meant she had to ‘dress down’ somewhat. Her character grows old and develops an alcohol problem, but with a lack of prosthetics or dramatic make-up, Jolie was forced into using her initiative. ‘It’s one of those funny things’ she says, ‘I’ve been an actress for so many years and I get on set and I’m like I don’t know how to play drunk! I don’t know how to play old! A lot of it for me was just to feel tired and the weight of what that life was like.’ Originally she was going to put on weight to add to the effect, but as she recalls, it had a surprisingly detrimental effect. ‘I actually look younger heavier’ she admits, ‘If you stretch my cheeks I lose any wrinkle. We tested it and I knew that I looked weathered and old when I’m skinnier.’

Another thing Jolie had to change was her overall manner. ‘I had an etiquette coach for that time and that was interesting’ she remembers, ‘The manners of that time and the way they would behave and why they would behave.’ Anything rub off? ‘I wasn’t as far off as I thought I was actually’ she admits, ‘Little things do rub off like politeness but there are some ridiculous things like when you’re listening to someone tilt your head to the side. That makes no sense to me. It’s a false way to behave’

Her husband is played by Matt Damon and the chemistry they shared onscreen was miles away from what you’d expect. There’s no Pitt explosives here, since the couple barely get on throughout. ‘Matt and I keep joking that I did a film not with Matt’ she laughs, ‘Because he never spoke to me or looked at me the whole film. It was great because we were friends. I don’t know if I could have done that with anybody else. We know each other and we know each other’s families so we had such an ease about being as rude and as cold to each other as possible and not taking it personally. We were able to laugh a lot or joke a lot after.’

Having a director like Robert DeNiro means that while he respects actors a lot more, he’s also aware of what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Which can mean he has the potential to be a scary boss. After all this is the guy who starred in Taxi Driver. ‘Me and Matt spoke about that actually and we were terrified’ she recalls, ‘You’re very nervous to be with somebody that you consider to be one of the best at what you’re trying to do. He knows when you’ve hit a false note and when you’re not working hard enough.’ But in reality, Jolie couldn’t have been happier working with him. ‘He’s that great director that gives you the tiniest little suggestion and helps you to think you thought of it yourself!’

While able to add yet another acclaimed film to her increasingly distinguished career, it’s her life off screen which has been drawing in all the attention. It’s been a hectic year for Jolie, giving birth and being blamed for a Hollywood divorce have meant she hasn’t disappeared from the magazine shelves. After such a big year, you’d expect she had quieter plans for the new year. ‘We’re gonna have a big 2007!’ she smiles, ‘We plan to just continue everything that we’re doing and do more of the same and grow in all different directions. Everything’s just getting crazier and crazier. We’ve now done so much travelling together, our children are growing up and we wanna have more children. Being able to survive the last year now we feel like what else can we do?’

Her charity work separates her from many of her peers and it’s something that Jolie considers hugely important for actors such as herself. ‘The responsibility of an artist is to do their job and do their job well’ she tells, ‘The responsibility of all of us is to do the most with what we have. A lot of people who are celebrities have a lot so they should do a lot.’ While her charity career may have become more and more frantic, her film career has slowed down somewhat. Jolie attributes this to her career as a mother. ‘It makes me wanna work a lot less’ she admits, If you’ve noticed I don’t work very much now.’

It’s unlikely that Angelina Jolie will fall out of the public eye anytime soon. With a number of high-profile roles in Sin City 2 and A Mighty Heart, plus her continued support of charitable causes, Jolie isn’t going anywhere. With her personal, professional and charitable lives all going from strength to strength, does Jolie ever consider combining the two by co-starring in a movie with her partner Brad Pitt again? ‘We were joking before that nobody’s going to watch the children if we both go to work at the same time!’