By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
Angelina Jolie has described feeling “broken” before she took on her latest film role and questioned if she was strong and stable enough to pull herself through.
The Maleficent star, who split from former husband Brad Pitt in 2016 after a 10-year relationship, said it is important for her children to see her as a survivor.
In her new film, Those Who Wish Me Dead, directed by Hell Or High Water’s Taylor Sheridan, the 45-year-old plays a smokejumper – a specially trained wildland firefighter who provides an initial attack response to remote wildland fires.
Her character, Hannah, is still reeling after failing to save three people from a fire when she comes across a traumatised 12-year-old boy, Connor, played by Finn Little.
She helps him flee as he is chased by two assassins, played by Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen, after a deadly attack on his father, and the pair brave lightning storms and a huge fiery blaze in a bid to outrun them.
Jolie told the PA news agency: “I think we all have times in our lives where we just feel broken. And I’m certainly one of those people. And so I came into this not feeling strong at all, and not knowing if I had it even in me to pull through this.
“And, like everybody, I carry my own trauma, my own grief, different things that have happened in my life.
“And so it was very cathartic. Can I pull myself through? Can I pull the child through it? Can I can I get to the other end of this? Am I strong enough? Am I stable enough?”
Jolie, who is mother to six children – Maddox, 19, Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne – found fame in action roles such as Tomb Raider, Mr & Mrs Smith, Salt, and Wanted, as well as her Oscar-winning performance in Girl, Interrupted.
However, she has also forged a career as director in recent years, with films including In The Land Of Blood And Honey, Unbroken, By The Sea, and First They Killed My Father, and said taking on a physical challenge felt like a new experience.
She said: “It did feel new. I’m older, and it’s not just that my body was different, it was just that I’m different.
“And it’s been about a decade or so since I’ve done anything like that.
“And then of course there’s that moment at the beginning where you think ‘What am I doing?’
“And my kids are not used to seeing me do these things because really, during the ages they were growing up, I was directing.
“So it was kind of like Mom did that a long time ago, so Mom doing any of that is almost funny to my children now, but I think actually it was really good for them, it was nice to see me survive and be strong.
“But it was weird, I definitely had it in my mind, thinking maybe I’m not capable of this anymore.”
– Those Who Wish Me Dead is released in cinemas from May 17.