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Go behind the scenes of 'Unbroken' with Angelina Jolie, Jack O'Connell

When it came to finding an actor to portray WW2 hero Louis Zamperini, Unbroken director Angelina Jolie had to find “this person that the audience would root for.” Enter British actor Jack O’Connell, who managed to portray Zamperini’s life story through his times of Olympic triumph and the tortures he faced as a prisoner of war. Watch O’Connell’s featurette on Unbroken and hear how he embodied the challenges that Zamperini went through in his lifetime. READ FULL STORY

Japanese nationalists call for ban on Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken'

Though Unbroken aims to tell the true-life story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who spent several years in Japanese POW camps during World War II, some protest groups are objecting to the film for its depiction of prisoner abuse at the hands of Japanese guards.

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'Boyhood,' 'Into the Woods' make the AFI Awards list

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The American Film Institute typically gives out honors to 10 films each year, but this year, 11 made the cut, including Boyhood, which picked up even more critics’ prizes over the weekend. According to AFI, this is “the first time in AFI AWARDS history that the voting procedure – including tiebreakers – has resulted in the inclusion of 11 motion picture honorees.”  READ FULL STORY

Watch Angelina Jolie discuss the true story behind 'Unbroken'

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For Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, telling the story of Olympian and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini became more than just the culmination of a 50-year journey to the big screen. It became about honoring the man whose story it tells.

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Angelina Jolie talks 'Unbroken' and her brilliant new star, Jack O'Connell

All she can see, in every direction, is water. It’s Oct. 16, 2013, the first day of filming on the WWII drama Unbroken, and a barge has taken Angelina Jolie, her crew, and an enormous crane camera onto the open Pacific off the coast of Queensland, Australia. As she stands on the ship, silhouetted by bright blue sky and deep blue sea, actors Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, and Finn Wittrock float nearby in a small yellow raft. They are skinny and weak and starving, having subsisted on just 500 calories a day for two months. Suddenly, the wind picks up, stirring salt spray and waves. The crew on the barge begins to slip and fall. Jolie can barely hear O’Connell, her young star, deliver his lines, and for a moment she can’t even see him. As the camera zooms in for a close-up, he bobs helplessly in and out of frame.

“If you saw that first shot and my reaction to it, you’d be absolutely sure that this was going to be one of the great disasters of filmmaking history,” Jolie says today with a smile, sitting on a sofa at Milk Studios in Los Angeles. “The only thing you could do was laugh at how insane this was all going to be. And then you just had to take a deep breath and figure out what to do next.”

Ah, the eternal unanswerable question: What will Angelina Jolie do next? In a life that has spanned her transformation from Gia Carangi to Evelyn Salt, from femme fatale to media-sainted ambassador, from wild child to mother of six, she has been everything except one thing: predictable. Now, on the heels of the highest-grossing film of her career, Maleficent, Jolie, 39, is shifting her focus from movie star to director. Unbroken, her $65 million period epic, is her most ambitious undertaking yet.

The film (in theaters Dec. 25) tells the true story of Louie Zamperini (O’Connell), the son of Italian immigrants who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and fought in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, when his plane went down over the Pacific. He survived the crash and spent 47 days adrift on a raft before Japanese troops took him to a POW camp. There he endured more than two years of near-relentless brutality, most of it at the hands of a sadistic guard known as the Bird.

This is Jolie’s second film as director, and while her first, 2011’s Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, was hardly a tidy chamber piece, the scale of Unbroken is  massive, unfolding over multiple decades on three different continents—and on lots and lots of water. Even filmmakers as seasoned as Joel and Ethan Coen, who helped adapt the script from Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 best-seller, have described the project as “a motherf- - -er” to make. “I didn’t know what I was up against when I was first getting into it,” Jolie says. “I had never done anything like it. I was up for the challenge, but I had so much to learn.”

Only four women in history have been nominated for Best Director Oscars, and while a fusillade of male actors have transitioned behind the camera to Academy acclaim—Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, et al.—Jolie joins a ridiculously small group of A-list actresses who have built significant careers as directors: Ida Lupino, Penny Marshall, Barbra Streisand, and Jodie Foster are pretty much it. None have been nominated for directing. Whether Unbroken will shatter that glass ceiling remains to be seen. Regardless, Jolie has found her calling. “I’m very happy as a director,” she says. “I may be stressed, but I’m loving every difficult challenge. I love seeing a story through from beginning to end. I like the nurturing aspect of it—building the family of crew and supporting everyone.” She grins. “I’m much happier not being that person out in the front.”

This is what Angelina Jolie does when she's nervous

Angelina Jolie really, really, really wanted to direct Unbroken, the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 bestseller. It’s the true story of Louie Zamperini, the son of Italian immigrants who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and fought in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, when his plane went down over the Pacific. He survived the crash and spent 37 days adrift on a raft before Japanese troops took him to a POW camp. There, he endured more than two years of near-relentless brutality. He survived that too, and went on both to forgive his captors and to run in the torch ceremony at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan (not far from where he was kept prisoner)—a few days before he turned 81.

Jolie was deeply moved by his story.  “It was such a strong reaction: ‘I don’t want to just make a movie—I want to evolve as a human being. I need and want to be near this man,'” the Oscar winner tells EW.

But when Jolie was up for the job, she wasn’t a shoo-in. “I had to pitch really hard,” she says. “I was on fire. There was no stopping me. I was completely insane.” READ FULL STORY

Angelina Jolie is not giving up acting: 'I have a few more roles in me'

The Internet shuddered worldwide today due to reports that Angelina Jolie would be quitting acting. And while it’s true that the busy mother of six, humanitarian, and director of the upcoming Unbroken plans to spend more time behind the camera than in front of it, she’s not quite done yet. “I see myself moving into directing more and doing much less as an actor,” Jolie tells EW. “I have a few more in me, ones I have been developing for some time, so I will do those before I step away.”

One of those will be in next year’s By the Sea, a film Jolie wrote, directed and starred in alongside new husband Brad Pitt. “It was a new experience as I had to direct myself and Brad in very dramatic and emotional scenes,” she says of the relationship drama set in 1970s France. But it was also a great joy to be back on set with him after ten years.” The couple first paired up in 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith. “[By the Sea] is a very different film than our first. It’s heavy. We really had to help each other. And we did.”

For more on Angelina Jolie and Unbroken, pick up next week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Nov. 25 .

Video: A champion becomes a survivor in new 'Unbroken' trailer

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This is almost three biopics in one: the story of a racing champion, the story of a man lost at sea, and the story of a survivor in an internment camp.

But while it might seem incredible, Unbroken‘s all based on the story of one man: Louis “Louie” Zamperini, who survived it all until he died last week at 97. Played by Jack O’Connell, and as directed by Angelina Jolie, Zamperini’s story is the subject of Unbroken, which hits theaters on Christmas Day.

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Angelina Jolie debuts 'Unbroken' footage at CinemaCon

When prestige is what you’re going for, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one of the most famous women in the world as your centerpiece. And so onto the stage strode Angelina Jolie, stunning in white, to introduce her second directorial effort, the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, to an audience of theater owners at Tuesday’s CinemaCon.

According to Universal Pictures chairwoman Donna Langley, it was Jolie’s chase of Olympian and POW Louis Zamperini’s story that pushed this project — originally developed by the studio in 1957 as a starring vehicle for Tony Curtis — to the big screen. Called “a force of nature” by Langley, Jolie took center stage to tell the story of Zamperini, a running star in the 1936 Olympics, who was shot down in a B-24 over a Japanese island and taken prisoner along with his survivors.

Jack O’Connell is playing Zamperini in a film shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins and scored by Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat.

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Casting Net: Kristen Stewart in talks for a sci-fi love story; Plus, Will Smith, more

• Felicity Jones may have helped put director Drake Doremus on the map with her affecting performance in his lovely indie Like Crazy, and then again in Breathe In, but Doremus is eying a new heroine for his next project: Kristen Stewart. The director is reportedly courting the Twilight star and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) for Equals, a science fiction love story. Moon scribe Nathan Parker wrote the script. [Deadline]

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