Angie in the director’s chair! Angelina Jolie’s second directorial feature Unbroken tells the true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini, who survived a plane crash in the pacific by drifting on a raft for almost 50 days, only to spend over two years living in Japanese POW camps during World War II. Stars Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, and Garrett Hedlund sat down with HuffPost Live on Dec. 5 to discuss the film, in theaters Christmas Day, and their experience working with megastar Jolie.
Stars Hedlund, 30, and Wittrock, also 30, praised Jolie’s directing style as “extremely collaborative,” and said the Maleficent actress encouraged the cast to improvise.
“Everybody had done their individual research on who their characters were, and we all had an immense amount of respect for them,” said Hedlund. “What we could find and bring to the table would have the potential of being added in either improvisationally, or we’d make something out of a moment that was just sort of sitting, eating rice.”
Wittrock, currently terrifying fans on American Horror Story: Freak Show, echoed Hedlund’s sentiment – adding that Jolie was “curious” about the actor’s individual ideas throughout the entire process. Jolie’s own acting experience also influenced her directing style.
“Because she’s an actress, she loves watching actors, you know, kind of get a little mental, and sort of cram, and trial and error, and figure things out,” Hedlund added. “I think it makes her smile.”
The story is a passion project for Jolie, 39, who included the late Zamperini throughout the entire production process. The mom of six was able to show Zamperini the entire film, on his death bed, before he passed away at 97 in July.
Miyavi, who plays an imperial Japanese Army sergeant, said that this dedication inspired the rest of the cast.
“Thanks to her attitude and determination, everyone was able to be on the same page,” said the 33-year-old Japanese rocker.
Jolie’s handsome husband Brad Pitt even got involved in the filming process, and offered up some advice for the film’s protagonist, O’Connell.
“At the end of the wrap party, he grabbed my head and he said ‘you did really well, you’re going to have a lot of people telling you to do a whole lot of things – just be patient,’” said O’Connell, who plays Zamperini.
The handsome rising star, 24, said he plans to heed Pitt’s advice and “choose wisely” on all his future projects.
The filming process wasn’t all serious, however – O’Connell said that after wrapping some of the prison camp scenes, he and his castmates formed a band. Their favorite performance? A cover of “Angie” by the Rolling Stones that they sang for Jolie.
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