By Melisa Tang
Angelina Jolie is grateful to have had the opportunity to share a rough cut of her forthcoming movie Unbroken with the film’s subject, Louis Zamperini, days before he died in early July.
The Olympic runner-turned-war hero passed away on 2 July at the age of 97 after a battle with pneumonia.
Jolie, who had grown fond of Zamperini while making the biopic last year, paid an emotional tribute to her friend following the sad news, admitting the pain of his death “is a loss impossible to describe”.
Now the actress/director has opened up about one of the last days she spent with Zamperini as she gave him a sneak peek of the film they had been working on so closely together.
She tells Australia’s TV Week magazine, “I brought him the film on my laptop in the hospital, and it was amazing seeing someone at the end of their life watching their life unfold again, at the same time their body was shutting down.”
And Jolie, who underwent a preventative double mastectomy in May, 2013, reveals Zamperini inspired her in other aspects of her life too: “He wanted me to make the movie to show something hopeful about the strength of the human spirit that can pull us through. He reminded me to have my surgery in the year that I did, and he reminded me to appreciate every day of my life.”
British newcomer Jack O’Connell will portray Zamperini in the film, while Domhnall Gleeson has been cast as war hero Russel Allen Phillips.
Zamperini, who competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Germany, became a prisoner of war in 1943 when his U.S. Air Force plane crashed down in the Pacific and he was captured by Japanese soldiers behind enemy lines after spending over a month at sea without food or water.