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June 8, 2007

Angelina Jolie Unbound

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The steady, detail-oriented side of Jolie's nature was very much in evidence when she embarked on a powerful, personal project, A Mighty Heart, opening this month, in which she stars as Mariane Pearl, the wife of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped in Pakistan and eventually slain on tape by al Qaeda operatives. The movie is based on Mariane's memoir of their marriage and her dogged, poignant search for her husband and his captors alongside Daniel's colleagues, law-enforcement personnel, and government officials.

To prepare for the role, Jolie spent long stretches with Mariane. "It says a lot about her that when something happens to her personally, her focus is the world," says Jolie. "She doesn't speak as a normal person would about 'my life, my problems, my issues.' She speaks about 'us, we, hate, love' -- very open, collective feelings." Jolie studied the Buddhist chanting that Mariane relied on to steady her during her darkest times. "I'm not a religious person, but I think there is something very interesting about the way Buddhism takes you out of yourself and connects to the universe," she says. She took pains, as Mariane herself did, not to watch the hideous video of Daniel's beheading, "because Mariane doesn't want anybody to watch it. And I agree with her that it fuels the people who want you to watch it." Jolie also had to be careful not to share too much with her son Maddox, who became friends with Adam Pearl, the child Daniel and Mariane conceived before his abduction. "We were trying to explain to him that something happened to Adam and Adam's mommy that we're telling the story of," she recalls. "And he'd say, 'Well, what happened?' Thank God I can't tell him exactly what happened, because he could say something to Adam when they're on a playdate."


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