Director Jolie learnt from the cinema greats

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie says she learnt from the best about taking a turn behind the camera and put the lessons to good use in her directorial debut, already making waves before it hits the screen.

“I think actors, because we’re in the world of the characters and the movie, we’re kind of more isolated,” Jolie told reporters, after wrapping up shooting for her film which focuses on Bosnia.

“It was fun to be more of a part of the family of the crew, and be more in the different layers of the process.

“It’s a just different level of work that was very exciting for me, and I was very excited to watch other actors work, and do scenes that maybe I would have done different, and then do it better than I could imagine and I’m thrilled.”

The film, focusing on a love story between a Muslim woman and a Serb man against the background of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war, was mostly filmed in October in Hungary.

During a roundtable interview in Paris, Jolie refused to be drawn on the details of the plot, which triggered controversy in Bosnia from women’s associations after local media reported rumors that it featured a Muslim rape victim who falls in love with her Serb attacker.

After initial problems winning permission to shoot part of the movie in Bosnia, Jolie sent the authorities a copy of the script which her Bosnian production company said did not include any such rape love story.

“I’m done filming it. I go back to edit in January,” said Jolie clad in a classic black skirt and gray cashmere sweater for the interview at the posh Hotel Meurice.

“It was nice to take the spotlight off myself and put it on some brilliant actors from an area… I’m excited to show their work and their talent to the world,” she added.

“I’m very proud of what they gave and what they did so I just felt lucky to be there for it.”

Jolie said she had drawn on various influences from her stellar movie career as she stepped behind the camera for the first time to film other actors at work.

“I learned a lot from Clint (Eastwood), who is very economic as a director,” the actress said, in Paris for a promotional tour for her new film “The Tourist” in which she stars with Johnny Depp, which opens in the US on Friday.

“I learned a lot from Michael Winterbottom, who really gave a lot of trust in the actors and tries to capture them in their space instead of making it look too stagey,” she added.

“Working with (Robert) De Niro, it taught me a lot about being an actors’ director. Hopefully, I’ve learned from all of them.”

Now a busy mum of six children with her partner and fellow movie star Brad Pitt, Jolie admitted: “It’s getting harder to make decisions to work for the sake of working.”

Laughingly, the Oscar-winning actress, who can command 10 million dollars per picture for a leading role, described herself now as “unemployed.”

“I have to be home and I have to do other things, but I don’t have to work as much,” Jolie said, adding she liked to find parts that are “extremely challenging or mean something to me deeply.”

“I’ve never done anything for the box office. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to maintain a career where I don’t do well at the box office.”

She confessed that some films, such as “A Mighty Heart” in which Jolie played the pregnant wife of American journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 1999, took a toll.

“You do the projects you love, knowing that there are… subject matters that not a lot of people are comfortable going out of their way to see and sit through for two hours. It’s very hard to do, emotionally,” Jolie said.

“It’s a very hard story to even talk about, to even remember. And how even it connects with the modern terrorism of today. A lot of people don’t want to revisit it or relive it.”

And she confessed that for a solitary person, she was surprised how easily she had adapted to family life and having little time to herself.

“You just give that up at a certain point. You even try to take a bath and everybody comes in,” she laughed.

“As somebody who likes to be alone, I surprise myself that I’m very happy to be surrounded by everybody in my family. I feel that comfort.”