Angelina Jolie stars in Salt, a contemporary action thriller from Columbia Pictures. As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes onthe run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to eludecapture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives,as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains:"Who Is Salt?"
Columbia Pictures presents in association with Relativity Media a di BonaventuraPictures production, A film by Phillip Noyce, Salt. The film stars Angelina Jolie, LievSchreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, and Andre Braugher. Directed by PhillipNoyce. Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Sunil Perkash. Written by KurtWimmer. Executive Producers are Ric Kidney, Mark Vahradian, and Ryan Kavanaugh.Director of Photography is Robert Elswit, ASC. Production Designer is ScottChambliss. Editors are Stuart Baird, A.C.E. and John Gilroy, A.C.E. Costume Designeris Sarah Edwards. Music by James Newton Howard.Salt
in cinemas August 19th, 2010
Day X Exists Game
An on-line game has been launched that will give audiences a unique look into the story-line of the upcoming contemporary action thriller SALT starring Angelina Jolie.
The Day X Exists game combines video based story telling with espionage themed missions and asks users to delve into the world of Agent Evelyn Salt after she is accused of being a sleeper spy within the CIA. Players are recruited by Salt to stop a mysterious plot called 'Day X' and clear her name.
Day X Exists Gamewww.femail.com.au/day-x-exists-game.htm
ABOUT THE FILM
The contemporary spy thriller Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, began life with an offhandcomment Jolie made a few years ago. "I was meeting with (Sony Pictures Co-Chairman) Amy Pascal a few years ago when it came up in conversation that she wasgetting ready to make one of the new James Bond films," Angelina Jolie remembers. "I playfullysaid, 'I want to be Bond!' That was our little joke, and then she found this project."
Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer had originally conceived the role of Salt to be played by amale actor. His original spec script was developed with producer Sunil Perkash, whothen brought it to producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Amy Pascal at Sony, who inturn brought on director Phillip Noyce. Like all motion picture projects, the screenplaythen went through several drafts, but the major change to the script occurred when thefilmmakers envisioned Angelina Jolie, an Academy Award®-winning actress and one of the fewwomen in the world who can carry an action picture, in the title role. Very quickly,"Edwin Salt" became "Evelyn Salt." "We had a really smart script we all collectivelyloved with an intriguing and complex character, so the idea of Angelina doing thissuddenly felt like a no brainer," says Perkash. "She's an incredible actress who wouldbring such depth and realism to a very enigmatic character. Having that realism in anotherwise fantastical story was very important, and we were beyond thrilled when sheresponded to the role."
"When we changed the gender of the main character, we began to question thedynamic of every scene," explains producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "We didn't simplyquestion whether a woman would make all the same choices, but also how the othercharacters would act or react differently, given that it's a woman. It was a huge changethat rippled through the entire script."
In the film, Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative, is accused of being a sleeper spy for Russia.With her entire world crashing down, Salt must stop at nothing to prove her innocence -but her efforts to evade capture only throw her motives in doubt.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura says that the notion of sleeper spies is not fantasy. "There's noquestion that they exist," he says. "The CIA believes that they exist. There's somethingreally mysterious and sexy about the notion that somebody could lie in wait - fordecades, if necessary."
"The real fun of this movie is that it's an action thriller and a mystery centering aroundthe identity of this character - 'who is Salt?,'" says Perkash.
"Salt has a lot of elements in it," Lorenzo di Bonaventura explains. "It's a thriller, it's an actionmovie, it's a spy movie, it's a dramatic love story, and it has some kick-ass action."In the movie, Evelyn Salt must go on the run to prove her innocence when a defectoralleges that she's a mole, triggering Day X - the day when Russian sleeper spiesawaken and begin the war against the United States. "Day X is still a controversial topicinside the CIA," says Angelina Jolie. "Some think it's absolute nonsense and others believe thatnot only is it real, but sleeper agents have already been activated for certain cases.
When we first approached the idea, we thought it was a bit of a fantasy, but as we foundout more information, we discovered it was more real than we could have guessed.Truth really is stranger than fiction."
For example, it has been contended that Soviet Union, and then Russia, deployedcovert agents masquerading as citizens in Western countries in the 1980s and 1990s aspart of a network of intelligence operatives who would live under assumed names forfifteen to twenty years, or longer. When activated, these sleeper spies would thenorchestrate "Day X," a chain of sabotage and terrorist attacks within the United States,the beginning of a large-scale war with Russia. Sleeper spies for Russia have beendiscovered in recent years in Estonia and Canada, and the 2006 poisoning death offormer FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London remains a mystery. Just recently, agroup of people - assumed by their friends and neighbors to be living ordinary lives -were arrested by US federal prosecutors and accused of being part of a spy ring, livingunder false identities in deep cover in an effort to carry out assignments for Russia.
"I have no doubt that sleeper spies are out there," says Phillip Noyce, director of thefilm. "It's been a part of spycraft since day one. Even before reading Kurt Wimmer'sscript, I was fascinated by the question of what might happen if long at rest sleeperspies were suddenly called to action."
For actor Liev Schreiber, these fascinating questions at the center of the story propelledhim to join the cast. "After the fall of the Iron Curtain, what happened to all these spyagencies that were in place?" asks Schreiber. The agencies themselves might havebeen disbanded, he notes, but the people in them, the operatives themselves, didn'tcease to exist. What if your colleague and close friend was one day identified as justsuch a person? "These operatives were ingrained with modes of thinking that are nowoutdated in our contemporary political climate," he continues. "I think that's the questionthat Phillip's interested in, and I was, too."
Angelina Jolie describes her character as having had an "understandable reluctance to get closeto anybody, and especially to get married, understanding that she was kind of puttinghim in the line of fire." However, Evelyn Salt is married to a man who is fully aware ofand accepts the risks of being married to a CIA operative.The film's technical advisor on the CIA, Melissa Boyle Mahle, worked in the Agency asan operative for 16 years. "The CIA requires that we tell our spouses what we do for aliving," she says. "Over the decades, the agency has learned that people cannot live anormal life if they don't have one person close to them that they can talk to, to a certaindegree. On the other hand, just because your spouse knows what you do for a living,your spouse doesn't know what you do on a daily basis - not what you're working on, orwhat kind of danger you're in, or if you leave, where you go.
Angelina Jolie says that it's not unusual for a CIA operative to be married, but it's a job that canput a lot of strain on a relationship. "I talked to one woman, a former operative, whosaid it was such a relief when she left the agency - after years of not being able tocommunicate anything that she did or where she was going, her whole relationship withher husband changed. She didn't realize how much it had kept them apart, how difficultit had been, until she had a new life."
"It creates a space, a black hole, in any relationship," says Melissa Boyle Mahle. "It's very important tohave normal, healthy relationship, but in a marriage, or a very close person you cannottell, it's very difficult."
To prepare for her role, Angelina Jolie did her research. "We talked to a lot of the women in theCIA," says Angelina Jolie. "One after the other, they are just these lovely, sweet women that youcan't imagine being put in a dangerous situation, but they really are."
Through these interactions with Melissa Boyle Mahle and other former spies, Phillip Noyce says, Angelina Jolielearned what an operative would do if she were really accused of being a sleeper spy."She learned how spies live on the edge, what they do if they are unmasked, how theyevade detection," says the director.
Melissa Boyle Mahle says, "Angelina was interested in the specifics of her role and how the story wasunfolding. Obviously, it's a fantastical script, and we worked on making it fit a real-worldscenario. Particularly her character - she really needed her character to be believable.We talked in very concrete terms about how someone would feel and react if they wereaccused of being a sleeper spy, what their options would be."
In casting Angelina Jolie, the filmmakers felt they could push the throttle on the action quotient."Salt fights aggressively, in face-to-face combat," she notes. "In some movies I'vedone, there's been a temptation - because I'm female - to make the action nice" - andnice, she says, is not how a trained operative accused of being a sleeper mole for theenemy would fight.
"Angelina's the consummate pro," adds producer di Bonaventura. "Whether it's adramatic scene, whether it's a funny scene, whether it's an action scene, she's going forit. It's great to work with somebody who really wants to push the boundaries."
To direct the film, the producers brought on director Phillip Noyce, a master of thepolitical thriller, whose films include Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games, bothstarring Harrison Ford in the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan.
"Sometimes the action can overrun the movie, but Phillip keeps a really good balance,"says Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "He's making sure that the character is somebody you really getinside, each and every one of them. And you understand what they're doing and why.""The reason I wanted to make this movie is simple - after reading the script, it was amovie I wanted to see. I'd pay to see it," says Phillip Noyce. "When I first read Kurt's script, Iwas overwhelmed by the intoxicating combination of historical fact and popcorn fiction.It seemed like the perfect recipe for that rare film that both pleases the mind and ticklesthe senses, an edge-of-your-seat adventure to delight the grownup in every teenagerand the child in every adult."
Actually, Phillip Noyce has been interested in the subject for years - he was born into it. "Myfather worked for Z Special Force, which was the Australian equivalent of the OSS, theforerunner to the CIA. I grew up enchanted by the stories of my father the spy. At avery early age, in my small town in the Australian outback, I'd spend my afternoonsfollowing people, spying on them for an hour or two. I wanted to be a spy but I nevergot to do it."
Melissa Boyle Mahle, the CIA technical advisor, says, "I was really impressed by the commitment ofthe director to make an entertaining, suspenseful, and intense film, and still keep realitywithin his mind's eye. When it comes to espionage, many Hollywood movies have norelationship to reality, but Philip wanted approach it as, 'Yes, it really could happen thisway.' The little details as well as the big story points were important to him."
According to Angelina Jolie, Phillip Noyce always does extensive research into the details of the lives ofhis characters for every film he makes. "He does so much research, and the little,minute details that help all of us fill in our characters," she says. "When he makes anintelligent thriller, he is the intelligence behind the thriller."
"Phillip's rhythm is very specific to the actors," adds Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "There'stotal concentration on what they're doing, what is happening in each moment, and he'ssort of squirming around in his chair watching the scene. And you can feel what hewants the crescendo of the performance to be."
For Liev Schreiber, who plays Ted Winter, Salt's boss at the CIA, watching Phillip Noyce atwork was like attending a master class. "Phillip is someone that as a filmmaker and asan actor I've always admired," says Schreiber, who recently directed his own first film."The opportunity to watch him up close is worth the price of admission for me."Schreiber is an actor known for serious dramatic roles in such films as The ManchurianCandidate and Defiance, but he has also recently branched out into action with X-MenOrigins: Wolverine. "Liev is very politically aware and very thoughtful, so he's great towork with," says Angelina Jolie. "He takes the role seriously, and still has fun with it."When Schreiber was first sent the script for Salt, he read it very quickly, he says. "Itwas a page-turner," he recalls. "I zipped right through it. It was a really fun read."
Schreiber was also intrigued by the concept of the hunt for a sleeper spy, who has beenliving in deep cover with a new identity. "I've heard so many stories about undercovercops who've gone into deep cover for years at a time and then kind of lost themselvesin their roles," he says. "They had become really confused about their allegiance andneeded serious deprogramming once they were pulled out." This is the question thatWinter must grapple with as he's torn between wanting to help Salt and wanting to catchher. Can the person he knows so well really be someone else entirely?
Angelina Jolie describes Schreiber as "one of the actors that doesn't sit back. He puts a lot ofwork in, and we knew when he came in that he was going to make his character betterand stronger."
Similarly, the filmmakers sought a high-energy actor who could bring out the intensity inPeabody, the man whose job it is to track Salt and bring her back in. As a product ofthe CIA's counter-intelligence division, he is not an especially sympathetic character."They're not the policy makers, they're the guns," Angelina Jolie explains. Angelina Jolie was especiallypleased when Olivier Award-winning British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was seen in thefilms 2012, Talk to Me, and American Gangster, was cast. "He's a strong man,Chiwetel, and he's very tough. He's such an amazing actor."
Chiwetel Ejiofor found the script offered a lot more than daring action. "It's very fast-paced, avery exciting movie," he says. "It's got kind of a mixture of everything - a politicalthriller, a paranoid thriller, and the characters are very engaging."
As the counter-intelligence officer on the case, it is Peabody's job to determine whetherthe defector is lying about Salt or telling the truth. "It starts as kind of a dual pursuit ofher - to physically get her back into custody, and also to work out whether there is amole, and whether she is that mole," says Ejiofor. "And that becomes the cat andmouse of the film."
"Peabody's attitude is that he is going to catch Salt, no matter what it takes," continuesdi Bonaventura. "There's an intensity to Chiwetel's performance that is so graceful. Ithink people are going to fear for Evelyn Salt as he's chasing her."
Since he plays the antagonist, having a good working relationship with Ejiofor wasimportant to Angelina Jolie. "I think it's important to get along very, very well with the personwho's your enemy in the movie, because you end up being a little bolder in your fights,"she says. "He and I had a good time."
Once the main roles were cast, Phillip Noyce brought in Academy Award®-winningcinematographer Robert Elswit, ASC (There Will Be Blood, Good Night and Good Luck)to shoot Salt, and production designer Scott Chambliss, whose work includes the recenthit feature Star Trek, and the acclaimed series "Alias," to design the film. Other keybehind-the-scenes talent brought on board include costume designer Sarah Edwards(Michael Clayton, The Interpreter) and editors Stuart Baird, A.C.E. and John Gilroy,A.C.E. Recent Academy Award®-winning special effects supervisor Burt Dalton (TheCurious Case of Benjamin Button) also joined Phillip Noyce's team, as did visual effectssupervisor Robert Grasmere, who had previously worked with Phillip Noyce on four films,including Patriot Games.
ABOUT THE STUNTS
With Angelina Jolie in the lead role, the filmmakers were limited only by theirimaginations when it came to the action and stunt sequences in the film. "Angelina isvery much into doing all the action herself," says Simon Crane, who directed the secondunit and coordinated the stunts. Crane had collaborated with Jolie on many films priorto Salt, including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mr.& Mrs. Smith. "She's really game foranything."
"I think it's great when a movie star is willing to put themselves out there because itmakes you stay in the moment even more as an audience member," says producerLorenzo di Bonaventura. "She's pretty fearless."
"I love doing action movies," explains the actress. "I've always loved to run and jumparound and be physical."
Jolie felt particularly safe working with Crane not only because of their longstandingprofessional relationship but because Crane is simply one of the best in the business."He started out as one of the great stuntmen," says Noyce. "In Cliffhanger, there's anamazing midair transfer - that was Simon. The greatest, most exciting war sequenceI've ever seen - the D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan - that was coordinated bySimon. The greatest fight sequence I've ever seen - in Braveheart - choreographed bySimon. The greatest swordfight, in Troy - Simon. The guy is a living legend. He'sseen it all and done it all. He takes the audience by the seat of their pants and plungesthem into the scene."
Crane says he was gratified by the opportunity to re-team with Jolie. "She was alwaystrying to find or come up with new ways of doing action," he says.
In one major action sequence, Salt, cornered by her pursuers, makes a bold leap off afreeway overpass and lands on top of a moving truck on the highway below. Salt'spursuers follow her in an SUV, and arrange a roadblock, forcing Salt to take somedramatic evasive actions in the middle of a six-lane thoroughfare.
Working from an animatronic storyboard designed over the previous months by PhillipNoyce, Crane and his team spent several weeks on the highways of Albany, New York,planning, rehearsing, and shooting this complex sequence. The Route 787 and Route20 interchange next to downtown Albany matched DC's highways, and caused littletraffic disruption when exit and entrance ramps had to be closed for filming.
Crane, working closely with stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood and Jolie's stunt doubleEunice Huthart, planned the shot. "That's really Angelina on top of the vehicles," saysCrane.
"I trust them so much with their rigs and harnesses," says Jolie. "Instead of feelingscared, it's like working with the circus for the day, and you get to play. They know meand they know what I can do, and what I'm not very good at." Citing another sequence,in which the actress walks a ledge twelve stories up in her bare feet, she says, "Ihappen to like heights, so we've found these moments where I can use that."
Jolie also worked with Crane and his team to develop the fight style that her characterwould employ. "Because I'm a girl and I'm light on my feet, we naturally went to styleslike Muay Thai, which is very long and beautiful," Jolie says. Muay Thai employs the"Art of Eight Limbs," in which not only fists are used to make strikes, but also elbows,shins, and knees. "But then we realized it wasn't as practical a fight if you have face-tofacecombat, and it didn't look as aggressive," says the actress.
So Jolie and Crane and his team added Krav Maga, a more brutal form of fightingdeveloped in Israel and used by the FBI and American special operations forces, toSalt's fighting technique. "She fights secret service guards in the film," notes Crane."You can't have her take those guys out too easily, or it would soften the whole film.Salt is very efficient - she doesn't really want to kill anyone."
"There's a tremendous amount of running in this film, more than I care to mention,"jokes Schreiber. "Running in dress shoes and a suit - Harrison Ford always made thatlook so easy, but it is not easy. I spent the first two weeks of this film with shin splints,icing my legs every day."