Angelina Jolie was making headlines most of last week for her personal life as details from her Freedom of Information Act claim against the FBI were made public, alleging that Brad Pitt abused her and their children during that private flight in 2016 that led to their separation. As we saw, sources in support of Brad were quick to speak to the media portraying Angelina as a vindictive bitch who was out to get him with most outlets omitting key information about how this file was discovered and unsealed and the purpose of Angelina’s complaint.
Brad Pitt is Mr Popular in Hollywood. One of the ways he’s been protected these past few years from this disturbing history is by association with other popular people in the industry. It’s a form of insulation and shared goodwill. This is the power of celebrity. A star as famous as Brad Pitt is formidable, but in combination with other stars at his status, he becomes almost invincible.
Angelina Jolie, by contrast, has never really moved around in Hollywood circles the way Brad does. She’s not like the Gwyneth Paltrows etc who rock up in a whole celebrity crew. Sometimes that has worked against her – she has friends but most of them aren’t movie stars so in comparison to other famous women in Hollywood, there’s a certain perception in a part of the public imagination that she’s a weird loner with no girlfriends.
Enter Salma Hayek. Salma produced the series Santa Evita about First Lady Eva Perón streaming now on Hulu. In an interview with Deadline published the other day, just as Angelina and Brad’s situation was front and center, Salma talked about being directed by Angelina recently on Without Blood.
“We just finished it,” Hayek Pinault told Deadline. “Angelina is the best director I’ve ever worked with. I absolutely loved working with her; enjoyed every second of it. It’s a tough piece but it was so delicious to come to work every single day. She is a genius and I think this might be her best movie yet. She did an amazing job, really.”
She continued, “I was completely blown away by her mind, her dedication, her technical knowledge, and her control of every aspect, as well as her vision which is so clear. She is so good with the actors, so passionate, and so focused. But most of all, I was blown away by her kindness to every single person on the set. I talked about this with my co-star Demián Bichir and we were saying, ‘Wow, she’s really something.'”
Salma and Angelina became close on Eternals and Salma has described them as “soul sisters”. It’s interesting to watch back their junket interview last year when they talk about how much they love each other, after bonding over motherhood – and at one point Angelina says that she doesn’t socialise much and sometimes she can be “heavy”, and it was Salma who embraced her and cared for her and asked her to share her burdens and her joy. The way Angelina described Salma it was like she had a friend in Salma who would … protect her.
Is it a coincidence then that Salma’s coming out hard for Angelina right now? Her statement was professional, it was about their professional experience, but Salma’s words here illuminate Angelina as a person, and not just a director. From a woman who was not just an actor in Angelina’s life but a real ally, who might have some idea what one of her best friends is up against and is pulling up for her.