Monday, July 19, 2010

Director Phillip Noyce talks about working with Angelina Jolie in Salt

Working with Angelina Jolie is not new to the Australian director Phillip Noyce after he works with her in 1999’s The Bone Collector, and the action thriller Salt which will be airing on July 23 in all theaters nationwide will be their reunion project under Columbia Pictures, a local office of Sony Pictures International. Noyce was also known as a director of most great action drama films like Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Quiet American and The Saint.

In the latest project of Noyce, Salt is about a CIA Agent named Evelyn Salt (Jolie) whose name was connected to a league of Russian spy in the height of campaign against espionage and terrorism. But the question lies in the end if Agent Salt is a real patriot or truly spy, the twist begins in her quest to clean her name for her fellow agent and starting to trace the person who revealed her alleged identity.

Here is the interview of Noyce and his views on the film and working again with Jolie:

Question: This film went from a male lead character, then to a female lead character. And it went through a whole sort of casting process…
Phillip Noyce: In the original script by Kurt Wimmer, the lead character was called, at that time, Edwin A. Salt. We discussed the film with Tom Cruise, we had a table read with various actors, including Samuel L. Jackson, who kindly played one of the parts, just so we could hear the script read.

After that table read, Sony Pictures decided they definitely wanted to make the film. Around that time Tom wasn’t prepared to commit to the script as it was – his main fears were that the character was too close to “Mission: Impossible’s” Ethan Hunt, being a rogue spy, with extraordinary abilities. So over many months, we tried to twist and turn the story to differentiate the character of Edwin Salt from Ethan Hunt. But, Tom had a valid point. It was kind of returning to an offshoot of a character that he’d already played. It’s like playing the brother, or the cousin, of somebody that you played in another movie.

Then the project was in hiatus for a couple of weeks. Sony’s Amy Pascal had been talking over the years and had often spoken to Angelina Jolie. They’d expressed their mutual respect for each other and also, their mutual desire to try and create a female spy franchise, so we sent the script to Angelina. Then that script was revised by Brian Helgeland, who basically did a character pass. Based on that script, Angelina committed.

Question: Is the basic script you’re shooting now the same as the Cruise script, in terms of plot structure, and that kind of thing?
Noyce: The script was always evolving. I think that it’s just been a continual process, obviously accelerated by changing the central character. But the locomotive of ideas that drives the movie are the same. An undercover CIA operative is accused of being a Russian mole, and has to go on the run to defend herself. That’s been the same since day one. The tone of the film has changed in this evolution. In the same way, as action thrillers have changed along the lines of the Bond films and the Bourne films. Bond used to be almost cartoonish but now, you can take those Bond stories very seriously, on a dramatic and emotional level.

Question: So, this has a more realistic edge to it?
Noyce: Yeah, it has evolved into a story where we hope at all times that the audience takes seriously the emotional interplay between the characters, and are very, very involved on an emotional level with the story. As well as getting enormous thrills and spills, and all the other popcorn elements that you’d hope to see in a summer movie.

Question: Are you in your element making this kind of movie?
Noyce: This movie is sort of a combination of every movie I’ve ever made, in a weird way. So, was I in my element? Yes. However, the major thing the audience is going to find is that the movie’s a showcase for the incredibly diverse talents of Angelina Jolie. When I say "incredibly", that’s not an understatement. Incredibly diverse. As we know, she’s a brilliant dramatic actress. Without a doubt. That’s been proven. But she’s also shown that she can kick ass as good as any man. In this film, she gets to do both and she does both in a way that I think will startle audiences. It’s highly dramatic, it’s highly emotional. It’s a thrill a minute. People are going to be very, very surprised by what they see, and by what they see her do. As I have been.

Salt also includes actors Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Yari Shadini and Zoe Lister, written by Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland and distributed by Columbia Pictures. It will be shown in all cinemas nationwide beginning July 23.

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