A Mighty Heart: Revealed

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

A Mighty Heart has gotten a lot of play on this blog (see here and here).

We’ve debated everything from the motives in selecting the lead actress to Marianne Pearl’s experiences to neo-blackface.

Personally, I’ve been keeping an eye out for an answer. In last month’s Glamour (or it could have been the month before – I only read Glamour every so often), Marianne Pearl discussed her experience and indicated that she sought out Angelina Jolie. She initially sought her out in friendship, and later asked for her to take on the role.

This month, I’m paging through Esquire and start reading Tom Junod’s extremely thorough and researched interview on Angelina Jolie. On page 85, Junod shone some light on the making of the film:

A year later, Mariane Pearl published a memoir of her marriage to Danny and the terrible circumstances of his death. Called A Mighty Heart, it was not a bitter book nor a book of broken faith. It was, indeed, a book that put forth the notion that Danny and Mariane Pearl did not lose to unimaginable evil but rather triumphed over it by living as citizens of the world to the very end. Brad Pitt bought it while it was still in manuscript and started to develop it as a vehicle for his wife, Jennifer Aniston; and when Brad left Jennifer for Angelina after the filming of Mr. and Mrs. Smith,it was Mariane Pearl who suggested Angelina Jolie for the role of Mariane Pearl, for, as it turned out, Angelina Jolie and Mariane Pearl were not just kindred spirits. They rather startlingly drew the same meaning from their different experiences after 9/11. They rather startlingly both believed that the story of Daniel Pearl’s death was about good people coming together to fight evil rather than evil guys coming together to destroy good. They rather inevitably became close. “I read the book,” Angelina says, “and Mariane and I got on really well as women, and we’ve since become really great friends, and our kids have become friends.” And in A Mighty Heart, they joined forces on a movie that, far from bemoaning the fact that some people are worse than others, celebrates the fact that some people are just better.

A couple notes:

1. That was copied straight from the magazine, long sentences and one block paragraph intact.

2. In the Glamour article, Mariane Pearl indicates that she initiated the friendship with Angelina. They became friends first, and then things moved forward on the movie.

So, after reading this account, what do you think?

Personally, I’m kind of shocked that the movie was going to be a Jennifer Aniston vehicle. I think that blows my mind. What were they going to do with her to transform her into Mariane Pearl?

On a gossipy note, that kind of blows for Jennifer Aniston – Angelina got her man AND her film!

I also wonder how Mariane Pearl self-identifies. I find it interesting that no one of color was tapped to play her – even though this would have been a no-brainer choice based on looks for Halle Berry or Thandie Newton or maybe a new undiscovered actress. I am not sure how much control Pearl had over the process initially, but she did recommend Angelina for the role. Did she just want someone she knew and trusted to portray her correctly? Or is there something more behind this?

What do you think? Regular readers, does this change your opinions expressed in the comments on the previous threads?