Angelina Jolie never intended to make her directorial debut with a controversial film about the Bosnian Civil War - but she became fascinated by the conflict while studying up on the region for her own interests.
Her new movie, In the Land of Blood and Honey, chronicles the romance between a rape and kidnap victim and one of her captors and is set against the backdrop of the 1990s war, and Jolie reveals the project only came about after she developed a "passion" for the country as she pursued her desire to learn all about the war-torn region.
She says, "My passion was to get a great education in Bosnia, and then it somehow just led to this film and then I met the people from the region and I couldn't be more passionate about these people and I just followed their lead."
Jolie served as writer, producer and director on the movie, but reveals she relied on her cast to make the storyline more believable - as many of the actors were locals who had witnessed the terror of the war firsthand.
She adds, "I didn't have to teach these people what it was like to live through war. They had to teach me. I just had to calm them down and set the right environment and make them feel safe..."
In The Land of Blood and Honey received its world premiere in New York on Monday (05Dec11) - just days after a Croatian journalist filed suit against Jolie for copyright infringement.
James Braddock claims the movie is loosely based on his 2007 book The Soul Shattering and alleges a co-producer on the film, Edin Sarkic, met with him in 2008 to discuss the possibility of turning the tome into a film - although nothing came of the discussions. He is seeking statutory damages and an injunction against the movie's release later this month (23Dec11).