July 8, 2010

ANGELINA JOLIE is EVELYN SALT - a secret agent on the run

Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie stars in Columbia Pictures’ SALT, a contemporary action thriller from director Philip Noyce (“Clear and Present Danger,” “Patriot Games”).

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who Is Salt?"

began life with an offhand comment Jolie made a few years ago. “I was meeting with (Sony Pictures Co-Chairman) Amy Pascal when it came up in conversation that she was getting ready to make one of the new James Bond films,” Jolie remembers. “I playfully said, ‘I want to be Bond!’ That was our little joke, and then she found this project.”

SALT has a lot of elements in it,” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura explains. “It’s a thriller, it’s an action movie, it’s a spy movie, it’s a dramatic love story, and it has some kick-ass action.”

In the movie, Evelyn Salt must go on the run to prove her innocence when a defector alleges that she’s a mole, triggering Day X – the day when Russian sleeper spies awaken and begin the war against the United States . “Day X is still a controversial topic inside the CIA,” says Jolie. “Some think it’s absolute nonsense and others believe that not only is it real, but sleeper agents have already been activated for certain cases. When we first approached the idea, we thought it was a bit of a fantasy, but as we found out more information, we discovered it was more real than we could have guessed. Truth really is stranger than fiction.”

Jolie describes her character as having had an “understandable reluctance to get close to anybody, and especially to get married, understanding that she was kind of putting him in the line of fire.” However, Evelyn Salt is married to a man who is fully aware of and accepts the risks of being married to a CIA operative.

Jolie says that it’s not unusual for a CIA operative to be married, but it’s a job that can put a lot of strain on a relationship. “I talked to one woman, a former operative, who said it was such a relief when she left the agency – after years of not being able to communicate anything that she did or where she was going, her whole relationship with her husband changed. She didn’t realize how much it had kept them apart, how difficult it had been, until she had a new life.”

To prepare for her role, Jolie did her research. “We talked to a lot of the women in the CIA,” says Jolie. “One after the other, they are just these lovely, sweet women that you can’t imagine being put in a dangerous situation, but they really are.”

Through these interactions with former spies, Noyce says, Jolie learned what an operative would do if she were really accused of being a sleeper spy. “She learned how spies live on the edge, what they do if they are unmasked, how they evade detection,” says the director.

In casting Jolie, the filmmakers felt they could push the throttle on the action quotient. “Salt fights aggressively, in face-to-face combat,” she notes. “In some movies I’ve done, there’s been a temptation – because I’m female – to make the action nice” – and nice, she says, is not how a trained operative accused of being a sleeper mole for the enemy would fight.

“Angelina’s the consummate pro,” adds producer di Bonaventura. “Whether it’s a dramatic scene, whether it’s a funny scene, whether it’s an action scene, she’s going for it. It’s great to work with somebody who really wants to push the boundaries.”

Opening soon across the Philippines , SALT is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit www.Facebook.com/ColumbiaPicturesPH and like the fanpage to get the latest movie news, video clips and contests.

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