First They Killed My Father premieres on Netflix tomorrow. Angelina Jolie was in Toronto on Sunday and Monday with Loung Ung and her kids to promote the film and in New York yesterday for more press. She’s also on the cover of the new issue of PEOPLE and there’s a new interview with the New York Times.
It’s been just 5 weeks since the controversy over Angelina’s cover story with Vanity Fair. It was her first major interview since World War Brange. And it was an uncharacteristic media misstep from someone who has played the media game so well for more than a decade. Her job this week, then, was first to generate publicity for her film. And also to regroup after the Vanity Fair stumble. And of course Angelina Jolie knows how to regroup. It was pretty much a fait accompli after First They Killed My Father screened at Telluride, with critics calling it her best directorial effort and a possible contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Regrouping almost wasn’t necessary by the time arrived at TIFF, wearing white on the red carpet for The Breadwinner, with several of her children beside her, impressing and awing even the cynical press. Everybody needs insurance though, especially since festival coverage can get rather niche. Which brings to this PEOPLE exclusive, not just an interview with Angelina but with Maddox, his first ever.
“I’m a little bit stronger” is the headline on the cover of the magazine, next to that face, that ridiculous crazy beautiful face. A little bit stronger? Angelina Jolie’s strength hasn’t been questioned, not for a long, long time. The MiniVan Majority has almost held it against her though as she’s always been too intimidating to be a friend candidate, unlike the Jennifers. The only common ground then, if there is to be any, is motherhood. The children. So this is what Angelina’s leaning on in this interview, her dedication to her children, especially during these “difficult times”. Through these difficult times, we’ve seen the children time and again with their mother. Only with their mother. Now we’re hearing from one of the children. Maddox is speaking about his mother:
“[She’s] fun, funny, and easy to work with. She’s a wonder.”
This is how Maddox described her to PEOPLE. And it’s not just her own children she’s connecting with in the feature. In addition to making herself and her son available for interviews, she also agreed to answer questions from kids:
This is classic Jolie, tailoring her presentation to a specific audience, trying to show that she has a “lighter” side, and taking her experience as a mother directly to the judgiest forum for mothers. After all, you can’t ignore that she is the one who’s been with the kids and that the kids undeniably want to be with her. No one can say they were faking it at those two premieres here in Toronto.
The kids also make an appearance in the New York Times piece. Knox is the one who comes to tell his mother that Shiloh needs her because her bearded dragon is sick. That’s the point we keep coming back to: her children need her, in a larger more emotional sense and for the day-to-day dramas that fill a childhood. The takeaway here is that it’s Angelina who’s around for all of them and that’s her priority whether or not you believe her, as she tells the NY Times that:
“I never expect to be the one that everybody understands or likes. And that’s OK, because I know who I am, and the kids know who I am.”
There it is again, the tailoring of presentation to audience. This is not the kind of quote that appeared in the PEOPLE story, for the MiniVan Majority. To PEOPLE she’s telling them where they can relate to her. In the NYT she’s saying if they can’t, well, she doesn’t give a sh-t. It’s the NYT audience that is more likely to turn on Netflix this weekend and choose First They Killed My Father. It’s the PEOPLE audience she might need though if she’s pursuing an Oscar. And this week, she reached out to both.