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Angelina Jolie returns as smoke jumper in ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’

Angelina Jolie and Finn Little attend a video press conference held with local reports at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul on Tuesday. (Warner Bros.)
Angelina Jolie and Finn Little attend a video press conference held with local reports at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul on Tuesday. (Warner Bros.)

Angelina Jolie is returning to the big screen as a smoke jumper traumatized by her past work in the upcoming action thriller “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” directed by Taylor Sheridan.

The movie hits theaters in South Korea on May 5, ahead of its release elsewhere in the world.

For the 45-year-old American actor, taking part in the film was therapeutic.

“I wasn’t feeling particularly strong coming into this. But to be able to get him (Connor, the child in the film) through the fire created this idea that I wanted to take this journey and I wanted to find my strength again,” Jolie said during a videoconference with Korean reporters at CGV Yongsan in central Seoul on Tuesday after a press screening of the film.

In the movie, smoke jumper Hannah Faber (played by Jolie) lives with trauma after failing to save three children from a wildfire. One day, in a forest, she meets Connor Casserly (played by Finn Little) who is on the run from the two assassins who killed his father. To divert people’s attention, the killers set a huge fire in the forest before they start chasing the boy. This makes the situation more difficult for Connor and Hannah, who have to find their way out of the forest while avoiding both the fire and the killers.

Jolie said one of the reasons she’d chosen to play the role was that she could relate to the way Hannah grew by helping Connor. 

A scene from action thriller “Those Who Wish Me Dead” starring Angelina Jolie and Finn Little (Warner Bros.)
A scene from action thriller “Those Who Wish Me Dead” starring Angelina Jolie and Finn Little (Warner Bros.)

“Many times over, my life has been enhanced and I have grown through love for my children and my relationship to them. So for me, I loved that this character was so broken and felt overwhelmed and what saved her is him,” she said. “She finds a purpose in helping him get through and survive. I think that is what parenting can often do. Take you out of yourself and live for someone else and it gives you strength that you didn’t know you have.”

Australian actor Finn Little, 14, also attended the videoconference on Tuesday and talked about the experience of filming with real fire.

“It was really amazing. When we were filming in the forest, we could really feel the heat of the fire and it really put everything in perspective,” Little said.

Jolie also agreed that working with real fire made her performance more authentic.

“These days many movies there are a lot of CG, and as much as it can be wonderful, when you see real stunts, real fire and real authentic moments, I believe the audience can feel it,” Jolie said. “I think it makes a difference when watching it. It did make a difference to us when we were making it. It felt very real.”

Jolie also said it was difficult to balance the physically and emotionally challenging scenes and praised the young actor for doing a great job.

“I was always impressed with how Finn could stay very focused during this emotional scene under such circumstances,” she said.

Since the movie deals with mountain fires, the actors also talked about the 2019 and 2020 bushfires in Australia.

“It is absolutely horrible, and I think by watching this movie you might understand and be able to see up close what it is like to be in a forest fire,” the young Australian actor said.

“We hope that this film also brings attention to the firefighters who are very brave and who are on the front lines risking their lives and doing all they can to prevent the spread and protect,” Jolie added. “Even though it’s a movie, (I hope) it gives you a sense of the respect that we have for them.”

When asked about her impression of Korea -- Jolie has been to Korea on a press tour for the action movie “Salt” and when her son Maddox Jolie-Pitt entered Yonsei University -- Jolie immediately put on a bright smile and said, “Korea absolutely has a special place in my heart.”

“I love being there and I hope to spend more time in the future. Even though because of COVID, he (Maddox) isn’t able to be there, he continues his Korean language studies and teaches me sometimes.”

She also talked about Korean American Don Lee, known as Ma Dong-seok in Korea, with whom she worked on the upcoming Marvel film “Eternals.”

“He is a dear friend. He is brilliant and he is kind. Such a good man. I look forward to everyone seeing that film as well,” she said.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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