The actress/director has optioned Catherine The Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair by Simon Sebag Montefiore about the empress’ marriage to Russian nobleman and military leader Grigory Potemkin.
Montefiore tells Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, “Catherine is the ultimate feminist hero. I feel very safe with Angelina in charge of it. I am thrilled that Angelina has optioned the book because it was my first book and it was very much a labour of love.”
The book was published in 2000, and was based on 5,000 previously unpublished love letters between Catherine and Grigory. The pair married after the murder of Catherine’s husband, Tsar Peter III, in 1762 and they became co-rulers of the Russian Empire.
Actresses who have played the role of Catherine the Great in the past include Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Disney are making a Maleficent sequel. The studio have hired writer Linda Woolverton to pen a script for the follow-up to the 2014 reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story and are keeping star Angelina Jolie ‘in the loop’ about the progress of the project.
According to Deadline, the movie is being written in such a way that the 40-year-old actress can reprise her role as the titular fairy, though she has no contract in place for a sequel.
Angelina previously developed, but declined to appear in, sequels to her movies Salt and Wanted. Meanwhile, Joe Roth has agreed to return and produce the sequel, but it is not yet clear whether Robert Stromberg – an Oscar-winning production designer who made his directorial debut on Maleficent – will take the helm again.
Maleficent made almost $760 million at the global box office, a huge profit on its $180 million cost.
While Angelina doesn’t usually appear in sequels, she previously admitted she had a wonderful time playing Maleficent. Asked if she had thought about the prospect of a sequel, she said: “Nobody has asked me about that. I don’t know. I can’t imagine. I’m not dead, at the end of it. She’s still there. I don’t know. I loved playing her.”
The actress and activist, a special envoy for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, served as a panellist at the biannual African Union summit in South Africa on Thursday (June 11), when she appeared alongside former British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and spoke to delegates about women and conflict.
She said, “There is a global epidemic of violence against women – both within conflict zones and within societies at peace – and it is still treated as a lesser crime and lower priority.
“The near-total impunity that exists worldwide for crimes against women, in conflict zones in particular, means that we are seeing more and more armed groups turn it into their weapon of choice. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of extremists that revel in treating them barbarically. This is inextricably linked to our overall failure to prevent and end conflicts worldwide, which is causing human suffering on an unprecedented level.”
She added, “Progress is slow, it is uneven, it is fragile and in some parts of the world it is being erased. “Think what it would mean if the 54 nations of the African Union press as one toward full rights and opportunities for women, not just for this great continent but for the world.”
Angelina Jolie’s movie Africa is in doubt over finance issues. The actress-turned-director’s next project – a true story about paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey and his battle with the ivory poachers who threatened the African elephant population in the 1980s – is in need of funding after Skydance Productions reportedly slashed their financial commitment from 50 per cent to 25.
Sources told Deadline the production company and director Angelina were involved in a dispute, with Skydance wanting a love story to be the centrepiece of the film, but the 39-year-old star only wanted it to be one part. As a result of the dispute, Skydance dropped their financial offer, though sources close to the production company insisted they never intended to put in more than the 25 per cent commitment that Paramount Pictures also made to the project.
A search is now underway to find other studios to help fund the picture, which has a reported budget of $110 million. If another investor isn’t willing to put up the money for production, marketing and distribution, it is likely the film – which was expected to feature Angelina’s husband Brad Pitt in the lead role – will fall apart.
Brad Pitt offered to drop out of a movie to care for Angelina Jolie. The Maleficent actress had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed last month after markers indicated she could have signs of ovarian cancer and her husband – with who she raises six children – promised to be by her side as much as she needed but was told to stick with his commitment to The Big Short in New Orleans. A source said: “He offered to pull out of filming but that’s the last thing Angelina wanted. Instead, he’ll come back at least once a week and his mother has offered to help with the children.”
Meanwhile, Angelina’s uncle Ron Martin – who was married to her late aunt Debbie – has spoken of how proud he is that the 39-year-old beauty, who carries the BRCA1 gene, meaning she has a high risk of cancer, has spoken out about her recent operation. He told Grazia magazine: “I’m very happy for her. It was tearful reading the article [about her operation] because you felt her pain whether she had cancer or not. “She’s done a great thing and she’s a very private person, for her to expose her personal medical history to the public, she’s doing it for a cause. She can save hundreds of lives.”
Angelina Jolie believes ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger’. The 39-year-old star – who carries the BRCA1 gene and has had her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to minimise her risk of cancer – has insisted she has learned from both her good and bad experiences.
She told Elle.com: “I do believe in the old saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger’. Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity.”
Angelina’s comments come just days after she revealed she had decided to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after tests showed a small tumour, a possible marker for the early stages of ovarian cancer. She said at the time: “Last week, I had the procedure: a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. There was a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues.”
Angelina underwent the operation just two years after she had a double mastectomy after discovering she carried a gene which meant she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer. And following her most recent surgery she confessed whilst she’s been taking hormone replacements, she will never be able to have more children with Brad.
She said previously: “Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.”
Angelina Jolie prefers directing to acting. The 39-year-old star, who helmed the biographical war drama film Unbroken in 2014, has revealed she finds directing to be a more rewarding experience than appearing in front of the camera.
She explained: “I prefer directing to acting. There is huge freedom that comes from being behind the camera.”
In the film, Jack O’Connell, 24, stars as athlete Louis ‘Louie’ Zamperini – who survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber went down during World War II – and Angelina says it’s particularly rewarding to work with such talented young people.
She told Elle.com: “It brings a lot of responsibilities as well, but is intensely rewarding. “Particularly the chance to help draw out the best in young actors, like Jack O’Connell in Unbroken, who is a remarkable talent.”
What’s more, Angelina said that although she doesn’t often reflect on a film once she’s finished making it, Unbroken created some particularly vivid memories.
She said: “I tend not to look back and dwell on a project once it is finished. But I do remember how intense the atmosphere was on-set filming some of the tougher scenes [such as] when Louie is being brutalized. “It was very moving how always, after those scenes, the actors involved would check [and make sure that] everyone was okay and look out for each other.”