Team Jolie, minus Maddox, who’s at university in South Korea, came out strong at the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil premiere last night. Here’s Angelina with five of her six children, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Vivienne, and Knox, celebrating the release of her latest Disney blockbuster. As you can see, they all look pretty excited to be there, excited for and proud of mom. I love how tactile they are with one another: some of them are holding hands, others have their arms around each other, and they are all uniquely themselves in the way they present to the world. Knox, as you can see, broke with the colour code and went with a splash of teal on his jacket that is both super stylish and also nods thematically to his mother’s movie. And Angelina continues to glow – as we’ve seen over the last few months, as she herself has said of herself, she’s discovering or rediscovering herself…and it shows. She’s lighting up from inside.
And the team vibe is more than her family. When it was confirmed this summer that Angelina would be part of Marvel’s Eternals and she was with the cast at Comic-Con and other Disney events, I mentioned that it would be so interesting to see Angelina within an ensemble, building chemistry, the way the Avengers developed their chemistry over a decade. The Jolie image, for nearly two decades now, whether it’s been accurate or not, has been that she’s a loner, uber-independent. She’s definitely not part of an established Hollywood famous friends group. She’s not hanging out with what Maria calls the Hollywood Mommy Mafia. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have friends or that she doesn’t know how to be a friend.
The Maleficent 2 junket was this weekend and Angelina did not do many, if any, interviews solo. Instead she made the rounds with Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning and in my experience, as a reporter myself, often assigned to cover these kinds of junkets, interviewing celebrities as they promote their movies and TV shows, it’s an interesting dynamic, the group interview. To be honest, this is not the media preference because the time slots are so short – usually four or five minutes, sometimes three minutes if your block is near the end of the day – when you’re already up against the clock, interviewing multiple people at the same time, and sometimes they all want to answer a question, you can walk out of there having only asked one question. Which doesn’t yield all that much content.
I covered the first Maleficent movie for etalk and I interviewed Angelina one-on-one so I know how she works in that situation. I have rarely, however, seen her in this situation, with two other cast members, all of them playing off each other. So while I probably, if I were assigned to this junket, would have preferred interviewing each of them separately, as a viewer and a student of gossip, I really appreciate watching her specifically in this setting – because the way she interacts with them is so different from how she is on her own; she’s showing a different side of her personality. You might say it’s a lighter side of her personality. She’s making jokes, she’s playful, she’s one of the girls.
Here’s a good example – Angelina and Michelle are doing an Entertainment Tonight interview and they’re asked about working with Elle and what makes Elle special. Angie and Michelle end up doing this bit where they kind of mock themselves in relation to Elle’s endearing positivity. Because, of course, their characters are dark and competitive, and Elle’s character represents goodness. So the joke here is that in real life, Angie and Michelle are both like… umm…what’s with this girl, why is she so nice all time, what a strange creature. It happens at the beginning and goes until about the three minute mark but you can see Angie let loose, ham it up a little, and it feels fresh. It feels like a side of herself that she’s kept in reserve and is now allowing to come through:
In this next interview with Access, it’s more of the same. Right off the top they’re told about a person’s awesome reaction to the movie (“I just love that them bitches were all in charge!”) and the joy that explodes across their faces, and Angie’s face, to be called a “bitch in charge” (what’s up Blue Ivy Carter!”), you can almost picture what it’s like to be out on a Friday night with her having drinks. Later on, she and Michelle get into it about which one of their characters is more f-cked up, and she has a sassy moment with Elle when Elle’s all like, um, Maleficent did some sh-t to my dad, and again, this is Angie on the banter, going back and forth with someone she’s comfortable with, letting us see how she engages informally, with her friends, with people she feels close to.
“Fun” has not been a word at the top of the list of attributes used to describe Angelina Jolie over the years. But here she is… having a lot of fun. I’m not trying to say she’s never been fun in real life – I’m talking about public image, I’m talking about what’s associated with her brand. Now, though, there seems to have been a shift. She told E! that:
"There have been times in my life where I have felt—and maybe I've hidden them well from the public—where I have not felt free, I have not felt safe, I have not felt like free of harm. I have felt small. I have felt cornered. And it has taken a lot to find that again, probably more of that today than I was in the last four years."
You can read into that a few different ways. But probably most of us will read into that one way, particularly where “the last four years” is concerned. Whatever she’s found recently, then, Angie having fun, Angie on a team, Angie on a few teams, is what we’ve been starting to see this summer. It looks GREAT on her.