In these exclusive extras from PARADE's July 11 cover story with Salt star Angelina Jolie, the actress talks about life with Brad, raising a family with an open mind, her religious beliefs and more.
Keeping audiences guessing in her new movie, "Salt."
"It's a thriller and it has lots of different twists and turns. The biggest challenge of the film was to try to create a character that people would follow and be interested in even though they weren't sure she was a good or bad person. So she was nicely complex to play. 'Salt' has great action sequences in it. I worked with people I've worked with for ten years on action movies, so we had fun."
A modern take on the female action star.
"Women in action movies, as I've done in the past, tend to either be fantasy or something very sexy-cool. They aren't based in any kind of reality. This is the first one that I've tried to do that is not a cartoon. It's not a fantasy. She is a good, solid character. It's about the CIA. It's today."
Today's action star, yesterday's high school misfit.
"I was actually quite a cool kid. I was not tough. I was certainly independent and bold. I was never teased. I never had any trouble from anybody. But I was never satisfied. I had trouble sleeping. I didn't really fit. I always feel that I'm searching for something deeper, something more, more...You want to meet other people that challenge you with ideas or with power or with passion. I wanted to live very fully. I wanted to live many lives and explore many things."
Wandering the streets of New York City.
"I went through my time in New York where you think it's really romantic with the saxophones and the subway and, for a few months, it's really fun. I had this weird period of quiet where I was completely on my own. I knew nobody in New York. I love my freedom. I used to fall asleep on the train and wake up at the wrong place. I'd walk all over town. I'd get dropped off at the tip of New York and walk all the way back to my apartment on West 74th Street. I learned a lot. But, suddenly, it was very hard and very dark for a period. I didn't like it. And then 'Gia' came out and I couldn't ride on the subway anymore and life changed."
Avoiding the dangers of the movie business.
"There are many people we've seen lost in this business because other people haven't stopped to make sure they're OK, you know? People are aware when others are breaking, but in this town they don't tend to stop and help them. In the end, it costs a life. Part of the sadness in this business is that there are a lot of people in it looking for approval and love. I'm lucky because I was raised with so much love that I can take a lot of knocks and not take anything personally."
Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, was all she needed.
"She was a proper mother, constant. We never had a nanny or housekeeper. Mother worked every day of her life. I've always wanted to be useful, like her. She was our everything. I've never needed to be loved because I've had my mother. So I've never felt the need to be understood."
Faith has always played a crucial role in her life.
"My mother had a beautiful faith. She loved Jesus. She was Catholic and had a warm memory of growing up in her faith. She loved to go to church. She also knew that there were certain things in the Church that were too extreme for modern life. She didn't approve of everything the Church was preaching but, instead of going against the Church, she just went with Jesus. I saw her spirituality as beautiful. If we didn't go to church on Sunday, she'd say, 'God would want me to spend time with my children, and laugh with my children. That's what I believe God would want.' Mother was right and we'd have a wonderful, fun day."
Her opinion of religion.
"I respect all religions. What I don't respect is when people use religion to attack others. I've met people across the world, in the middle of nowhere, who are just trying to survive and all they have is religion. In some way it helps them, and I wouldn't take it away from them. There are also people who use it to hate and kill. I don't consider them religious people."
What her children are being taught to believe.
"Brad and I are raising our children to respect everyone. We have a bookshelf in the house that has the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, everything. We will take our children to church, temple, Buddhist ceremonies, Mosques, teaching them about all faiths. Whatever religion they choose, the choice will be theirs."
Raising children with an open mind.
"First of all, as parents, we try not to spoil our children. Because we travel a lot, what it took me until my twenties to learn about life, our children know already. They spend time in Cambodia in a teeny hut and hang out with local children. They help me visit distressed areas. They have friends with no money. They see and live in different worlds. They also appreciate having nice things. They like this house [in Los Angeles] because it has this pool. But they also love Cambodia because it's got the fun places to throw rocks and cut coconuts and ride on elephants. They love Africa because the kids are really fun to play with and the nature is so beautiful."
Setting a good example for the kids.
"We're just trying to show them different sides of life so they don't just think one way. We're hoping that, organically, it will be in them to feel for people who do not have as much. We want them to appreciate what they have and be grateful for it. They'll be inspired to give and help people out because they'll have close friends who don't have as much. They won't whine about things they want. And they won't want more. We try to raise them with those values in mind."
Her answer to critics who say she and Brad should adopt American kids.
"Everybody likes to criticize people. It's an uneducated moral snobbery. It shouldn't matter where children are born. When I first started working with refugees, people would say, 'Why aren't you helping these people and not other people?" I simply looked to help. I make the choices I make because they're the choices I feel are right. Becoming a mother was the most wonderful thing."
How she safeguards her children from the media frenzy.
"We don't pay attention to it now, other than when we know we have to. If we have to [avoid the paparazzi], we go in a van, or we go underground, or have somebody block a car. Neither one of us has a publicist. We don't go to those gossip sites online. We are really pretty oblivious to it. So that helps keep the kids away from it. We move them a lot. They seem, right now anyway, quite savvy. They are six of the most interesting, toughest people I've ever met."
What she sees as her family's strength.
"We're a very close, very connected, very big family. We talk a lot about things. The children talk to each other, and they look out for each other, and they have each other. Yes, they have friends, but they also are very, very closely connected to each other.
Loving Brad and their relationship.
"Brad is a wonderful man. He's extraordinary, because he really, really stepped out on his own away from what he knew growing up. It's just such a natural transition. When you really love someone, you evolve. Love trumps everything. It's like when you have a child. It's not that you consciously put them before yourself -- it's that doing it is what you instinctively want because you have to come from a place of love. When I think about Brad, there is a lot of love."
Being true to herself.
"I'm going to be who I am. People can hate me, and that's fine, because if somebody loves me, he loves me for being me. I am who I am at home and everywhere else in all my life."
Angelina Jolie stars in "Salt," a double-agent spy thriller, opening next week. Watch the trailer below.
Check out the full interview in the Sunday, July 11, issue of PARADE, available in your Sunday newspaper.
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