A first promo picture for Angelina Jolie's upcoming directed true-story drama "Unbroken" has been released. Instead of featuring any of the cast members, it highlights her close bond with Louis Zamperini, the real-life World War II hero who becomes the inspiration behind the new movie.
Jolie and Zamperini are neighbors in the Hollywood Hills. They "have become close friends over the development of the film, as the filmmaker has listened to the war hero recount the incredible incidents of his life over many months of preparation," Universal Pictures says in a press release.
"Zamperini gave Jolie a golden running shoe pendant, a prize from one of his earliest races, which she will wear every day as she helms the film in Australia over the coming months," the studio adds.
Actor Jack O'Connell has also met Zamperini at his home to hear the man he'll be portraying recount his incredible tale firsthand. He even tried out Zamperini's World War II bomber jacket, which is among the many keepsakes he kept from his adventures in his home.
Based on Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 best-selling book "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption", the movie follows the true story of Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash. After days of hunger and shark & aerial attacks, he ended up behind enemy lines and was taken hostage by the Japanese.
"Like all readers of Laura's book and all people who love and admire Louie, I am a fan who has learned so much. He has made me a better person," Jolie says. She adds, "It will be hard to make a film worthy of this great man. I am deeply honored to have the chance and will do all I can to bring Louie's inspiring story to life."
"Angelina is a human dynamo," gushes Zamperini, "and I know she will tell this story in the right way." And he hopes the movie will create an even wider audience, "I've received so many letters and talked to so many people who say that Laura's book has helped them when they were going through hard times. I believe the movie will reach even more people with that message."
Garrett Hedlund will play Commander John Fitzgerald, a fellow prisoner of war in the Japanese camp where Zamperini was held hostage. Domhnall Gleeson is also among the cast. In preparing for his role in the world war II movie, he has lost a lot of weight.
"I'm losing weight getting ready to shoot 'Unbroken' with Angelina Jolie. I've gotten almost where I need to be; I've lost a lot," he said. "I kind of feel if I hadn't lost the weight we would have found a way around it, so this is a choice I made to be more authentic."
The Coen brothers are finalizing the script originally drafted by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese. The film eyes a December 25, 2014 release date.