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Art Imitates Life in Spy Thriller 'Salt'

Angelina Jolie stars as "Evelyn Salt" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.
Angelina Jolie stars as "Evelyn Salt" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.

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Angelina Jolie stars in a new fast-paced espionage thriller about a top CIA operative accused of being a 'mole' - a Russian agent planted in America's intelligence network. Here's a look at the action-drama Salt.



"Do you think everyone is who they say they are?"


Evelyn Salt travels the world as an oil company executive. In reality she is a versatile spy, working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency; but that changes when a Russian defector shows up at her Washington office claiming to have information about a 'mole' poised to commit an assassination.

"The name of the Russian agent is Salt. Evelyn Salt."
"My name is Evelyn Salt."
"Then you are a Russian spy."

In an instant "Salt" goes from trusted colleague to suspected traitor and, using skills honed in trouble spots around the globe, she escapes in a desperate attempt to clear her name.

"Somebody is setting me up."
"Don't make me put you down …I've got to bring you in, Salt. It's over. Face down. There's nowhere to run. Quit now."

The chase is on, pursued by the people who trained her, while  the clock is ticking on the planned assassination.

Angelina Jolie stars as "Evelyn Salt" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.
Angelina Jolie stars as "Evelyn Salt" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.

Angelina Jolie stars as Salt and calls the role a unique combination of daredevil action and realistic drama.

"I've been so fortunate in my career that I've been able to balance both and audiences have accepted me in dramas," Jolie says,  "and they've let me do big action movies and accepted me there.

"This time in Salt is the first time I've been able to really combine both. It's the first time I've been able to do an action movie based in reality and have a really nice depth of back-story and play with characters and accents and voices and all that …and also just jump of things and play."

The Salt character was originally written for a man (Tom Cruise was supposed to play the role); but Jolie is pleased that the gender change did not turn on the character's sexiness.

"We made a point not to use her sexuality or her femininity in the film in ways that is usually done in films, especially in this kind of genre," explains Jolie.  "I don't think the film is lacking in any way for it. That was a conscious choice we made to not let it become anything other than a really good spy movie with a tough spy …who happens to be a woman."

Chiwetel Ejiofor as "Peabody" in Columbia Pictures' SALT.
Chiwetel Ejiofor as "Peabody" in Columbia Pictures' SALT.

English actor Chewitel Ejiofor plays the counter-intelligence expert chasing after Jolie's Salt.

"What I liked about this character was that he was smart. He always seemed to me to be a good pursuer," Eljiofor says. "There was an in-built drama and tension in somebody who was so determined. It felt like that propels an audience along in the drama as well. With Angelina's character being so good at evading it felt like it needed both elements to push the drama and the tension of it."

Liev Schreiber co-stars as "Salt's" boss at the CIA and he calls the spy movie genre one of his favorites.

Liev Schreiber stars as "Ted Winter" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.
Liev Schreiber stars as "Ted Winter" in Columbia Pictures' contemporary action thriller SALT.

"I think they are so compelling to people because I think we all have this incredibly private persona that no one knows or will ever know," Schreiber says. "You're married for 20 years or work at the same place for 20 years and do the same thing every Thursday with your friends and yet you still feel like no one really knows you. I think that characters like Salt appeal to that interior, private place in people. 'You have no idea what I am capable of. You have no idea who I really am.' "

But what about when the real world intersects with the Hollywood version? Star Jolie says the recent arrests of Russian 'sleeper' agents living secret lives in America (exactly what her character is accused of in Salt) adds a twist the filmmakers never expected.

"There are obviously two feelings. One is our relationship with Russia as a country has improved and there are many, many things that are hinging on our relationship becoming more and more close and working together," notes Jolie. "So the political side or citizen in me wants to hope that it doesn't adjust anything relating to that. The side of me that makes a film about this situation thinks "my God, what timing. This is just bizarre." It's just strange. It feels like we're walking in some kind of odd reality."

Salt also features Polish actors Daniel Olbrychski as the mysterious defector who sets the plot in motion and Oleg Krupa as the Russian leader who is the assassin's target. The screenplay is by American writer Kurt Wimmer; and Australian Phillip Noyce directs the adventure that races through locations ranging from North Korea to Washington D.C. and New York City.

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