We knew Angelina Jolie was directing a film about the amazing life of World War II veteran — and former Olympic athlete — Louis Zamperini. Heck, we even knew he is still alive and kicking at the ripe old age of 96.
But now we know that Jolie has befriended the sage subject of her upcoming film, “Unbroken.” And, as a token of their mutual admiration, he has bestowed her with a good-luck charm: his golden running-shoe pendant, which he won during one of his earliest track races.
Jolie lived near Zamperini in the Hollywood Hills during the development stages of the film. And she has vowed to wear Zamperini’s golden running prize every day as she helms her first big-budget production in Australia in the coming months. The Universal film is scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas 2014.
“It will be hard to make a film worthy of this great man,” the 38-year-old actress-director said in a statement today. “I am deeply honored to have the chance and will do all I can to bring Louie’s inspiring story to life.”
Likewise, Zamperini had kind words for Jolie: “Angelina is a human dynamo, and I know she will tell this story in the right way.”
“Unbroken” is based on the critically acclaimed bestseller by Laura Hillenbrand about Zamperini’s unbelievable history — a rowdy working-class kid from suburban L.A. who becomes an unlikely track star and whose exploits take him from the 1936 Berlin Olympics (where he swiped Hitler’s own Nazi flag) to cheating death in a WWII bomber crew to his near-fatal detention in brutal Japanese POW camps to bouts of depression and alcoholism. Through it all, he managed to find the inner strength to persevere.
“Like all readers of Laura’s book and all people who love and admire Louie, I am a fan who has learned so much,” said Jolie. “He has made me a better person.”
And, if his good-luck charm works, should help Jolie make a great movie.