For those of you who are new to the site, here's how it works on a junket: they put you in a waiting area, you are on rotation to interview the talent, you make your rounds from room to room until each one is checked off the list. You only move when summoned. There is an order about the process. At the Kung Fu Panda 2 junket last week, the attending talent included Dustin Hoffman, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Jack Black, and Angelina Jolie. Black and Jolie were paired. So in total three interviews.
All the regular junketeers were a little on edge. They do this week after week, movie after movie. But some stars put even the most seasoned reporters in a state of anxiety. Angelina Jolie is one of them. As luck would have it, I got Dustin Hoffman first - who was a delight - then Director Nelson, and then I had to wait a few more minutes before heading into Black and Jolie. That only made it worse. I was NERVOUS. Because, as you know, there really are maybe only half a dozen megastars left. She is one of them. I don't give a sh-t if you hate her. This is undeniable. There was also the added pressure of delivering something good to air on etalk.
Those who had had her early were all coming out with good results. They were a little dazzled, almost buzzy, and a couple of them told me she was "over" the adoption question. That there was a look on her face the last time someone asked it. Everyone was asking about the adoption situation. The movie is about adoption. In case you didn't notice the first time around, Po is a panda and his dad is a goose. I resolved not to get into the adoption question. I mean, if you've googled all the interviews coming out of Cannes about the film, everyone has a quote from Angelina Jolie about the adoption question. We're all over it at this point.
I should mention that I was expecting that at some point, given her standing, they'd read us the riot act about personal questions and subjects that were off limits. This always happens at a junket, no matter how insignificant the celebrity. Needless to say, with Jolie, you just took it for granted that the publicists, her handlers, would be extra, extra militant about it. And … nothing. No warning, no caution, and no personal publicist. Everyone A List rolls with a personal publicist present at these functions on top of the publicity teams assigned by the studio. Even Dustin Hoffman had a personal publicist. The Jolie had no personal publicist. There was a studio publicist in the room, sure, but that's standard procedure, and he was lovely, looked at my face all serious, scared sh-tless, and told me to relax: "she's really, really nice, don't worry!"
I could hear her inside chatting with the crew. I could hear Jack Black making her laugh. Eventually I was called in, had to walk around a scrim to get to my chair directly opposite them. She was seated closest to me and the first thing I noticed were her shoes - really beautiful black with ankle straps - and then her legs - really, really, REALLY skinny - and then her black dress - nice LBD - and then, goddamn, her face. It's not like I've never seen her - I've covered her on several carpets, I've attended several pressers, she's walked by me at the Palais year after year - but I've never seen her this close, and when she's about to start talking to me, at me. We introduced ourselves, shook hands, and Jack asked me if I'd spoken to anyone else. And I told him Dustin. And he wanted to know how Dustin was, and I told him Dustin was trying to set me up with his son Max, and they laughed. She laughed. And then she shrugged and said - Go For It. I can't decide if she was teasing or serious. She has a way of saying things that can seem half like she's f-cking with you and half like she means every word.
I should mention that I've blacked out at least half of what happened because I was too busy staring at her head. It's really, really rather extraordinary. She had some makeup on, and she looked a little tired, but it was a pretty natural face that day - pale skin, complicated eyes, really great nose, and those lips…with nude gloss, plump and full over a wide mouth. She might need some more blush though. It's all one colour. Still, I don't actually understand how someone is allowed to look like that. It's intimidating. Not just the looks but the whole aura. More than once that day, afterwards, I heard several journalists referring to her as "regal". She is very still, spare with her movements, not warm, not mean, but not, like, obsequious in the least; nice, but not gushy no way, and somehow you feel you need to please her - it's not a command, it's not like she's Julia Roberts who straight up tells you you're there to serve her, but there's something natural about it, like it's been ordained, something you don't question. I thought maybe it was just me. That I was so affected because she's the patron saint of Gossip and Celebrity. But there was a hipster presenter from one of those music channels who's been walking around Cannes like he's too cool and too smart to be associated with the rest of us, and he was rolling his eyes at the other reporters who were coming out of her room all animated about having just met her, but I saw him after his time with the Jolie, and, though he was trying to mask his excitement because, of course, he's above that, I noticed that his hand was shaking, and he greedily asked one of the wranglers where the tape room was because "I need to watch this back right away". That kid was in love. Trust me.
She did light up though when I asked about her kids. The director had told me earlier during our interview that her children were with her sometimes in the voice booth and that the Jolie was "performing" for them. I asked her what they were like as critics, and if she would modify her reads to please them. She was cute about describing how she would watch their reactions and "go bigger" if they were into a specific interpretation. She moved her shoulders when she said "go bigger" like she wax expanding, and her eyes went wide and she raised her voice - she was having a good time remembering it. Then she told me that she brought her boys in to record their "burps". When she asked them if they thought they could do it, they answered: sure, give us some soda. They thought that was the best. So did Jack Black. He turned to her and was all like - aw, your kids made it into the movie? It was a cute moment. There may have been a point where we talked about coffee and how much she needs it. She did a few punch moves when she was describing to me how she gets into Tigress mode. And then somehow the conversation came back around to me dating Dustin Hoffman's son and I told them that I've been married for almost ten years, and I remember when I said that, her eyes narrowed, just a little, like she was surprised, then maybe not that impressed. This was the exact thought that crossed my mind at that moment, trying to decipher her expression: maybe she thinks I don't have good sex anymore.
As I was leaving, as we do, I said to them both - it was great to meet you. She made strong eye contact, dipped her head, lifted up her eyes, and said "yes you too". Pure sex. You just don't have a chance.
My friend Teri Hart, who interviewed her for Family Channel after me, felt the same way even the next morning. We compared notes about it later that day and Teri was nursing her own crush. They actually had a little "Girl Moment" together. Teri walked in there and straight away told the Jolie to tell her if her Spanx was showing. To which the Jolie replied, explaining to Jack Black, "See now this is a girl thing," before turning back to Teri and assuring her, "Don't worry, I think you're fine".
More on Jolie, specifically the Brange? The kids are all here with them, Brad was apparently on duty when she was off doing press. He had lunch the other day with Jude Law and Owen Wilson which is random but kinda not. Us Weekly reports too that she took the girls - Zahara, Shiloh, and Vivienne - to an ultra private, exclusive gifting suite and they all received leather hobos. And now we're counting down to Pitt Porn at the Tree of Life carpet which should be happening pretty much by the time this article goes up. I'll have the full blow by blow tomorrow for you here on the site but I'll be tweeting in real time so you can head over to my Twitter if you need it live.
And attached - the Brange out for dinner last night with a few people involved with Tree of Life. No Pitt Porn, but definitely some handholding.
PS. I don't know if it was because I was despondent over my laptop or missing my mother or feeling homesick, but I got really emotional during Kung Fu Panda 2. Or it could just be Po's Goose Father's Chinese accent.
Photos from Bauergriffinonline.com and Splashnewsonline.com