The casting session appeared mundane: Along with about 100 other hopefuls, Dzana Pinjo, a 29-year-old Bosnian actress, read from a script about the Bosnian war. Then things got personal. Pinjo was interviewed privately about her own experiences during the conflict, which began when she was 10, in 1992. Forced to leave school, she hid in her family's apartment building for weeks at a time over the next four years. The questions "felt intimate," she says. "I was a bit uncomfortable." But her openness paid off.
She landed the role — a Bosnian woman in a brutal war camp. And she learned the film was Angelina Jolie's directorial debut.
"It was a shock. I thought, She's coming here? Angelina? Come on!" Pinjo says.
Zana Marjanovic, the film's lead, fled Sarajevo when the war started. Now 28, she assumed the vivid script, which Jolie wrote, was by a Bosnian. When Jolie called her personally, Marjanovic felt a rush of adrenaline. But there was no room to be starstruck on set. Jolie met with everyone, even the actresses with minor roles; they were all soon calling her "Angie."
In preparation for a horrible rape scene, Jelena Jovanova, 27, and Jolie had a heart-to-heart over breakfast. "She said, 'It's going to be tough,'" recalls Jovanova. After several takes, Jolie invited Jovanova to see her performance on a monitor. Other actors gathered around, moved to tears.
Nervous before her first meeting with Jolie, Vanesa Glodjo, 37, wrote up a list of questions. But Jolie asked about Glodjo's own experiences — like dodging Serbian sniper fire as a 17-year-old. "There's a special state of mind in wartime," Glodjo says. "She wanted to capture that."
Jolie gave Alma Terzic, 24, a DVD of video testimonials from women who had lived through the conflict. The stories brought Terzic back to her childhood, when her family spent two years unsure whether or not her soldier father was alive.
For Pinjo, working with Jolie was a lesson both in craft and self-empowerment. "She said, 'This is the story of your people. I trust you,'" recalls the actress. "It's something I will remember all my life."
Tia Is Launching Fertility—and Preparing for a Post-Roe America
As women's healthcare startup Tia was gearing up to debut fertility care and a new clinic, the Roe v. Wade leak prompted CEO Carolyn Witte to accelerate plans to offer medication abortions, marking the most defining moment yet for the company.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
The Cannes Film Festival 2022: The Best Red Carpet Looks
Here's what everyone wore for the festival's 75th year.
By Sara Holzman
Why the Royals Have to Adhere to Strict Dining Rules, According to an Etiquette Expert
Imagine the infamy of sticking your pinky out when drinking tea, LOL.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Fiancé Riley Roberts?
AOC's husband-to-be is an "easygoing redhead" who lives with her in D.C.
By Katherine J Igoe
68 Times the Kardashians Posed Fully Nude and Owned It
And we mean fully nude—as in, not a shred of clothing.
By Bianca Rodriguez
Who Is Jonathan Owens, Simone Biles's Fiancé and NFL Player?
"The easiest yes!" Simone wrote about the couple's engagement.
By The Editors
Surprise! Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas Are Parents
They welcomed a baby via surrogate.
By Neha Prakash
Meghan and Harry Share First Photo of Their Daughter Lilibet Diana
The Sussex's holiday card is here!
By Rachel Epstein
The 50 Best Celebrity Couple Halloween Costumes Ever
Honestly, we're impressed.
By Charlotte Chilton
Alicia Keys Gets What She Wants
With her jazzy new album, Keys, the singer stopped worrying about everything except what matters: Her own opinion.
By Jessica Herndon
Brooke Shields on Reinventing Yourself, Making Friends in Your 40s, and More
The actress and CEO shared inspiring advice during a panel at 'Marie Claire's' "Power Trip: Off the Grid" conference.
By Rachel Epstein