Angelina Jolie on Directing Unbroken: I Needed "Some Help," "Some Guidance"

Entertainment Feb. 25, 2014 AT 10:10AM
Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini on the Today show Angelina Jolie talks with Tom Brokaw about directing WWII hero Louis Zamperini's story in Unbroken, a task she calls "the hardest thing" she's done

Watch out, Brad -- Angelina Jolie has a new man in her life. His name is Louis Zamperini, and he's a 97-year-old World War II hero and Olympic runner whose life story Jolie is directing in her upcoming movie Unbroken. Sitting down to chat with Zamperini and NBC's Tom Brokaw in an interview for the Today show on Tuesday, Feb. 25, the mom of six was affectionate and sweet toward her new friend, telling him she missed him and nuzzling his shoulder as they talked. See more recent pics of Angelina.

"[It's] such a huge responsibility to get it right. Because I love him so much," she told Brokaw, smiling. "And because he's helped me so much in my life."

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"I wanted to direct something again, but I just wasn't sure what. And it had to be something that I would love and care about, because it takes much more time away from your family, and much more effort than acting," she explained. (Indeed, Jolie and her family had to relocate to Sydney, Australia, for several months while she filmed; she and her six kids were photographed multiple times while Down Under.)

The In the Land of Blood and Honey director, 38, found her inspiration in Zamperini's story, which was also the subject of the best-selling book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand. "This has been the hardest thing I've ever done," she confessed to Brokaw of trying to get the movie made. "I pitched my butt off."

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It worked. And now she's making a movie that she hopes will mean something not just to her and Zamperini but to millions of people around the globe. "For me, I think Louis has been very clear about what his message is," she told Brokaw. "And I think, for my children, and for everybody in the world, I want to be able to say, it can seem dark, and it can seem hopeless, and it can seem very overwhelming, but the resilience and the strength of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing."

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Zamperini is proof of that. As is his connection with Jolie. "I can show you my roof from [his] window," the Maleficent actress told Brokaw. "I imagine that for the last 10-something years, he's been sitting there having a coffee in the morning and wondering, 'Who's gonna make this movie?' And I've been sitting there in my room, laying there, thinking, 'What am I supposed to be doing with my life? I want to do something important. I want to connect. I need some help. I need some guidance. Where is it?' And it was right outside my window."

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