You play the title character – Evelyn Salt – in this movie. Is she like you?
Every character I play is like me. As you grow up, you discover more sides to yourself. You spend so much time as an actor in your head that you forget to be free. And I’m the first person to be looking for what freedom means. When I was standing on top of a waterfall, for example, at the edge of Cambodia [for Tomb Raider], I was so happy, and it was so beautiful. I was in the jungle and learning all these different things – like I got to go dog-sledding in Iceland.
You do a lot of your own stunts in Salt. Is that nerve-wracking now that you’re a mother?
I’ve always been ridiculously fearless to a fault. I feel happier if I’m living every day to the fullest. You could die tomorrow, so just live. The funny thing about having children is that now I am twice as motivated to do a cool stunt, because my kids will like it. The worst that could happen is that I have an injury, but I’m still free. I had just had two babies, and the push to be physically strong was very welcome at the time.
Sounds tough, but then you’re playing a tough character.
She’s somebody who is working for the CIA, who is married and accused of being KGB. She hears about a programme in Russia where they would take children from an orphanage and raise them secretly in the States to help the KGB infiltrate America. And she’s accused of being one these kids, and the question is whether she is that or not.
You seem to play a lot of strong women.
I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been given good roles, or I get a chance to pull out the gutsier side, or the stronger side, or the more intelligent side. A lot of times you don’t get that chance. But you have to know your strengths as an actress, and I don’t think I could play a weak character. We’ve actually had that problem in certain films – if I’m being attacked, I have something in me that just wants to fight back, and it’s really hard not to read that on my face.
There were reports that you got hurt filming Salt.
Yeah, I got a nasty bump on the head while filming an action sequence. I went to hospital to be checked out, just to be sure I was okay. I was back filming the same afternoon.
You have a lot of tattoos now. Do you always have to cover them up?
I’ve been working with the same make-up artist on 14 different films – she’s one of my closest friends and wants to kill me every time I get a new one. But she covers them amazingly well.
A tattoo is a personal statement, but do you find it easy to be open with people?
Yeah. I’m just honest. I don’t have to try to pretend to be somebody else because I don’t have the time or energy for it. I just wouldn’t want to live that way. Sometimes things are taken the wrong way, and it’s crazy to be misinterpreted. It bothers you sometimes, but there’s also a hell of a lot people don’t know about me. People know maybe one-tenth of my life and because it’s a certain kind of life, they assume that’s everything, but of course I have my secrets.
Do you think there’s too much interest in your personal life and not enough in what you’re doing as an actress?
I’ve been very fortunate to have been allowed to do the films I’ve wanted to do, and they have been responded to. I’ve felt that people are seeing my work and also, yeah, there is a bunch of stuff written about me, and there probably always will be because I’ll continue to be really honest. I’m always learning, and I’ll fall on my face in front of everyone and not be embarrassed by it. I know I’m going to make mistakes, and I know I’m going to be hurt and emotionally seem strange, or I’m going to be really happy. I’m just always going to do it in front of everyone, but I really think that acting is a way of sharing and expressing things. So yeah, the other stuff comes with it, and I hope that people can read through the kind of things that bother me.
What is the most outrageous story you’ve heard about yourself?
There was one item when Billy [Bob Thornton, ex-husband] and I were together that said I’d stabbed him, and then went into a nuthouse or something. I thought that was kind of funny. If I wanted to kill him, I would have killed him [laughs]. But you can’t lose your sense of humour about it. Each day I prepare myself for something in the realm of crazy. It’s like I wake up and say, ‘What? I did what? What are you talking about?’
Salt is in UAE cinemas now.
Stunts gone wrong
Jolie may have sustained a nasty whack on the head while filming Salt, but she was released from hospital and returned to filming on the same day. Not all actors have been so lucky when performing their own stunts...
• No-one remembers Twilight Zone: The Movie, but they do remember the horrific stunt-gone-wrong on set: when an explosion detonated too close to a low-flying helicopter, the rotary blades decapitated star Vic Morrow.
• Robert Downey Jr broke Halle Berry’s arm filming a scene for underwhelming 2003 horror/thriller Gothika. A real-life Iron Man, then.
• Funnily enough, Brad Pitt injured his Achilles tendon playing Achilles in Troy, pushing filming back several weeks.
• Sly Stallone literally broke his neck filming forthcoming muscle-fest The Expendables. Well okay, it was a fracture, but it put the Italian Stallion out of action for three weeks.