Angelina Jolie chooses to play characters with whom she can identify. Even when she's portraying a fish.
"When I was invited in to meet with [the producers] of 'Shark Tale,' they brought me into this room and there were all these different pictures of fish," the actress recalled in a recent roundtable interview. "And they were going to explain to me which fish was what they wanted me to do, and I kind of looked around and I saw this fish that I could see Will [Smith] doing. And then I saw this fish with this big red mouth and pointy eyebrows and I thought, 'They can talk as long as they want. I know I'm that fish.' That was my fish."
Jolie was drawn to the sexiness of the fish named Lola, but little did she know that Lola was actually a vixen with ulterior motives. "My mom actually said, 'I don't know why you're the bad fish, you're a good person,' " Jolie joked.
In "Shark Tale," an animated mob spoof, Jack Black voices a shark whose family refuses to comprehend his vegetarianism. Will Smith, meanwhile, plays a fish who claims to have killed the shark's brother (voiced by Michael Imperioli of "The Sopranos"). Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Martin Scorsese, Vincent Pastore, Ziggy Marley and Katie Couric also provide voices.
The movie, which opens October 1, marks Jolie's first experience in animation.
"I hate my own voice," she said. "Like most people, I listen to myself on a phone or on an answering machine and think, 'Ugh.' So the first time I did it I came in trying to make [different] voices. I felt safer changing my voice, but they didn't let me. They wanted it to just be my voice."
Jolie, who co-stars in the just-released "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," has a big fall on the big screen, as she also plays Olympias in "Alexander," due November 5 (see "Colin Farrell Trying To Get Into Alexander's Skin; Angelina Jolie To Join Him").
Of the three, the Alexander the Great biopic was her favorite as she's partial to dramas. "As an actor, it's more fulfilling for your soul," she explained. "And as a woman you can go through so many different emotions and you can analyze yourself and the world and your relationships. So when you're done ... you feel like you've grown and changed."
Jolie certainly experienced a mix of emotions working with notoriously bullheaded director Oliver Stone, whose credits include "Any Given Sunday" and "The Doors."
"You can disagree or agree with Oliver or where he's coming from," Jolie explained, "but he's coming very straightforward with that and so I appreciate that. He didn't allow anybody to be safe. If anything, he demands a certain kind of commitment and bravery and doesn't allow for anybody to get too relaxed."
Jolie experienced Stone's expectations on the first day of shooting "Alexander."
"I had this 6-year-old Alexander, which was this little boy, the sweetest little boy, and I had to take him and I had to sing, which I hate doing, with my accent, and hold this python and try to get the python around the boy's neck while I'm singing to him and convince him not to be afraid," Jolie said. "On our first day! And then it was getting really late and I had to switch snakes and pull the other ones out and they were getting kind of wild. And [the trainers] said, 'It's nighttime and they think it's time to feed.' And I said, 'Oliver, it's nighttime and apparently it's feeding time.' And he was like, 'Oh, just get in there!' "
Stone also insisted Jolie and co-stars Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins and Jared Leto stay in character throughout shooting. "He kept getting upset if I lost my accent when we would be out to dinner," she recalled. "He wanted to see everybody become who they were."
After "Alexander," Jolie can next be seen in the summer of 2005 alongside Brad Pitt in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," directed by Doug Liman of "Swingers" and "The Bourne Identity" fame.
Jolie has scored a couple of summer blockbusters with her "Tomb Raider" movies, but said she is done with the series. Instead, she's considering another epic period piece, playing Catherine the Great in Randall Wallace's "Love and Honor."
"I love those historical characters, but I do think they need to be done right," Jolie said. "The more I've researched it, the more I think her story is very full and very deep. I take it kind of seriously, especially if it's a whole different country or a people's hero. To step into that and say, 'OK, I'm going to be this woman that you revere or respect or like or dislike, but she's a part of your history,' I take that very seriously."
Check out everything we've got on "Shark Tale."
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