NEW YORK — We must be getting into Oscar season if a prestige project like “Changeling” is about to open. A jaw-dropper of a true story if you’ve ever heard one, this latest work from the steady directing hand of stars as Christine Collins, a woman who, in 1928 Los Angeles, lost her child to mysterious circumstances only to be reunited with an imposter by a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department clamoring to get a feel-good story in the press.
Eastwood decided to sit down with MTV News to talk about his new film, even as he puts the finishing touches on another work set for release before the end of the year, “Gran Torino.” Moments before the interview began, Jolie decided to join the conversation. The following is an exclusive — their only interview together to support their latest work.
MTV: So here I am about to talk to one icon, Mr. Clint Eastwood and …
Angelina Jolie: I’ve crashed the interview. Sorry.
MTV: I don’t know what you’re doing here. I have no questions for you.
Jolie: Can’t get rid of me. [Laughs.]
MTV: The story in this film is truly unbelievable, and as far as I know, nobody really knew much about it prior to this.
Jolie: Didn’t the writer find it in a funny way?
Clint Eastwood: [J. Michael Straczynski] had a friend who was working at the L.A. Times, and his friend called him up and said, “We’re purging all of our records. You ought to come down here and look at some of this stuff.” So he saw this bizarre case and got this idea of how to tell this woman’s story and what she went through.
MTV: Angelina, you’re no stranger to difficult roles. Was it an easy sell to go down another difficult road on something like this?
Jolie: No. Reading the script made me want to stay away from it as far as possible, because I didn’t want to think about anything happening to my children. I didn’t want to have those scenes. But I couldn’t forget it. I found myself telling people the story of the script. And obviously the chance to work with [Eastwood] was something I always wanted. I guessed, and I guessed right that he would help me through this.
MTV: We’ve all heard the stories of the quick and efficient Clint Eastwood set.
Jolie: I’ve lived them!
MTV: So is it the dream everyone makes it out to be?
Jolie: More so. It is ridiculously great. It is! I’d come home and be the annoying person who said, “It was just so great!” He has a way of working that is so efficient. He knows what he wants. He’s a great leader, so it just works. He can say, “We’re going to do it right now, and we’re going to do it just once, and then we’re all leaving to do something else.” And everyone just says, “OK, whatever you say!” If Clint says so.
MTV: Both of you have experienced such a huge measure of fame, I wonder if you feel like it’s ever gotten in the way of your work.
Eastwood: I think when you’re younger and you’re starting out, you spend a lot more time thinking about how you’re going to get to a certain place emotionally. I think in this stage of life, I figure I’ll just let it happen. You’re not as conscious of outside distractions. And you get to my age and you think, “What the hell are they going to do to you? There it is, if you like it. If not, I’m sorry to disappoint you.” The mechanism is the same for everybody, whether you’re trying to find something similar in your life to relate to or if you’re just standing there telling the truth, [James] Cagney-style. Everybody has their technique. Whatever works.
MTV: What about you, Angelina? Have you figured out how fame cannot get in the way of your life and work?
Jolie: I’ve figured out how not to have it be a part of my life. I have a big busy family. I’m a mom and a lot of other things in my life. And I’m an actor, and I love telling stories and I like expressing emotion to try to connect with other people. With this story, I’m so curious to hear other mothers’ reactions. I think it’s a film that many people can relate to.
MTV: Is it harder for you to watch yourself in these extreme situations in this film, or is it harder for ?
Jolie: I never like to watch myself ever. I still haven’t seen I heard it was fun. I feel like I did something right if I can watch something and feel removed enough. I can watch this movie. I’m proud of this. I think it’s a really beautiful film. You’d have to ask Brad, but I think he likes this one.
MTV: Mr. Eastwood, you just finished “Gran Torino” — so the rumors of the end of your acting career are greatly exaggerated.
Eastwood: [Laughs.] My demise, is that what you’re trying to say?
Jolie: He works more than anybody in this town.
Eastwood: I enjoy working. My family goes with me most of the time. It doesn’t seem like I work as much as I did when I was younger, but I guess it’s because I was traveling more. “Gran Torino” was a little project that came along as I was doing postproduction on “Changeling,” so I said, “Yeah, I’ll do this.” It’s the Frank Sinatra retirement thing: “One more time.” It’s a crazy character, and I said, “I think I can play this character.” We’ll see and leave that in the eye of the beholder. I love playing golf and doing other things, but when you’ve been doing it a certain amount of time, it becomes a part of you.
MTV: Is “Human Factor” the next directing project for you?
MTV: Angelina, what are you shooting next?
Jolie: “The Human Factor”? [Laughs.] I’m just going to be an extra in all the scenes.
Eastwood: Can you play Mandela? [Laughs.]
MTV: [Eastwood] directed you. Maybe you want to direct him?
Jolie: No, I want to be directed by him again. I’m looking for a job!
Check out everything we’ve got on “Changeling.”
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