Behind the Scenes of UNBROKEN with Actor Alex Russell:
Louis Zamperini’s Inspiring Legacy and Working with Angelina Jolie
By Ben Kayser, Managing Editor
On Christmas Day, the biopic UNBROKEN (about famed Olympic Athlete, POW and Christian inspirational speaker Louis Zamperini) is released. Director Angelina Jolie had a special bond with Louis as she was actually neighbors with him up until his death on July 2nd of this year.
Actor Alex Russell plays Louis’s supporting brother Pete Zamperini in UNBROKEN. Movieguide® had a chance to speak with Alex about working with Angelina Jolie, Zamperini’s inspiring life and whether or not he felt there were high expectations for doing the story justice.
Movieguide®: Talk about your experience working on such a powerful story about an incredible man and working with Angelina Jolie on a project where expectations are so high?
Alex: I didn’t feel there was this huge expectation put upon me or upon anyone. I think great art is made when people are free. There are obviously many variables that go into making great art, but I think a huge factor is that people are free and feel free to express. If you feel a pressure to hit a mark, it can only inhibit you, make you self-conscious, inhibit your true voice. On that film [UNBROKEN], even given the size of it, I felt totally free. She [Angelina Jolie] made me feel empowered. She made me feel like I was the one who was meant to play this role, and that’s something she endowed all her actors with. [She’s] just very, very generous. When I first met her, I was a bit star struck, but that evaporated instantly. I think that’s just because she creates a great, free artistic environment.
Louis Zamperini is an example to everyone in the world as to just how well you can live your life. It’s an example to all of us. Louis Zamperini was shaking the hands of all the people that tortured him in Japan 10 or 15 years later. He was going and shaking all their hands because he had found peace. It’s an example to all of us, because we can all hold on to egos and it’s so easy to hold resentment towards people, but they’re tiny things compared to his story. I think if we can all live with a tenth as much peace and let go of a tenth of the resentment that he let go of, we’re destined for greatness.
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