As Tigress, perhaps the most accomplished fighter of the Furious Five, Angelina Jolie was also happy to return, and like Black, was enthusiastic when she found out that her character would be undergoing some changes as well. Jolie says, “First and foremost, Tigress is a fighter, and she’s out to get the bad guy. But what’s nice about this story is that she has a bit of a breakthrough and learns to be nicer. Her pride was wounded when she was not chosen to be the Dragon Warrior, and it took her a while to get over being angry at Po and the universe, in general.”
The writers enthusiastically created new facets in Tigress that gave Jolie more to explore this time around: “What if Tigress had this softer side to her? To be able to give that to Angelina and see what she did with it was great to witness. Sometimes, it takes an animated character to show a different side of an actor. As a voice performer, you’re free from people’s expectations of what they’ve seen from you in live-action films.”
When asked why she feels the first film was so successful (and the reason why the cinematic tale is continuing), Jolie observes, “The movie was so fun and cool and hip, but it also had a sense of history and culture. It was also this moral tale of how to behave, how to treat your friends, which makes it more like a classic animated film. But mostly, it has Jack Black, which I feel is the main reason people went to see it—it would be my reason! He’s so funny, and the dynamic between him and the Five, it’s almost a classic dysfunctional family.”
“And what really impresses me,” considers Jolie, “is that they really took the hard road with this sequel. Sometimes, you can just take it easy on a second film—but the choices they made, there’s so much more added depth. I think the writers and the filmmakers decided to address issues of sense of self and identity—things that come into play for anyone who starts life as an orphan or undergoes adoption. Working with Jen as a director, she’s probably the calmest person I’ve ever met. She’s put a great deal of thought into these projects, which have taken up something like seven-and-one-half years. She’s such a soulful person and she’s brought so many interesting, thoughtful layers to the story. She has a great nurturing sense about her, along with extraordinary intelligence and depth.”
Her admiration of her colleagues aside, when asked to name one of the best things about working on the “Panda” films, Jolie jokes, “You get to come to work in your pajamas.”
So how was it coming back to the character, any different, did you have like, I’m coming home feeling?
I think it was more fun the second time around that we all got to know each other and our characters already had history. So it was fun to kind of jump in and immediately start to play and we didn’t have much time off because you start doing them, they take so many years. We kind of jumped in right away and I love her, for me, Tigress is one of the best characters I’ve ever played, I love it, it’s a pleasure.
I’d like to know if the fact you have these six kids at home make you feel more interest in films like this, like Kung Fu Panda and also I would like to know, what do you think in general about second part?
Certainly anybody with children. But at the end of the day we’re all big kids and we all just wanna play and we all like to do these movies. You know, it’s a great deal of fun. But certainly, having my kids and we talked about them as being a bar, ‘cause they were from two to ten and we figured that this was a good group to get a gauge of whether or not the film was working when we brought them in. So, of course in so many ways, I did it for them and I’m excited for them to see it and for sequels I think, you know the trick of a sequel is you have to make it better than the first one and that’s a very, very hard thing to do, especially with one that was so successful and I think, our very, very talented Director pulled it off.
How do you deal both as an Actress and as a Parent with violence in movies in general to show to your children and how much is enough? How do you look at this film and find the balance of just enough violence, not too much for kids?
Well, I think one you have to know your children, ‘cause I think there are children that have a better understanding and are ready earlier than others. But for a film like this, I don’t see this as a film that’s too violent. I think this actually show, it’s actually quite the opposite because the strength, even in the final battle, it’s the inner peace and the way of kind of sending back somebody’s negative energy, is actually what wins against the kind of manic aggression and violence and war weapons. It’s the one that doesn’t want to use violence, but the one that chooses to kind of find a center. So, you know, all my boys are in martial arts classes and it’s been a great way. Boys are boys and they have a certain kind of energy, naturally and it’s been wonderful to get them focused on martial arts, to teach them about the discipline and the respect and the control of their own bodies. And I think, to ignore that that’s a part of humanity, of human beings and especially little boys, is wrong. So it’s to help guide them through it and help give them some assistance of, you know, what is a positive thing, what’s a good guy, who do you fight against if you need to and to try not to, certainly. But if you have to, to defend yourself.
You said before that Tigress is one of the most interesting characters that you play. Why is it so and another question is, it’s developed the character this time. Has it anything to do with, that it’s a female Director?
I think it is an interesting question. I’m sure there is something to do that that, yes. I’m sure. We’ve never discussed it. I don’t think a man couldn’t have seen that, I think it was something though that, I thin the original Tigress, it was wonderful in that it was chosen that, one of the strongest leaders of the Furious Five was a woman. When I first saw the characters, I didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl but I wanted to play her, whoever she was, ‘cause I liked her and I was very excited that it was a girl and for my Daughters, for me, I thought it was great and then I think, you know, we talked a lot about the fact that Po has, actually for a male character, he has a lot of sensitivity and emotion and so it seems like a very nice balance that she’s kind of the harder one that needs to learn to be a bit more emotional and he’s the very emotional one that is getting tougher. Right, can I say that?
You play a lot of fighters, a lot of tough women, a lot of femme fatales. Are you a fighter? Where does that come from? You’re a tough customer on the screen, what’s the personal alter ego to that, if I may ask?
Well, certainly my alter ego is who I am 100%, which is a Mum who’s changing diapers and coloring all night long. So I’m sure I’m very, very soft. But no, I’ve always been somebody that’s been drawn to strong characters and I admire strong women, emotionally and physically, not just physically, just people that I feel are fighting for something. I have a sense of justice and injustice and it’s always been more that than just wanting to be tough and I’ve been very lucky that I came to my career at a time where women are being allowed these roles and have had such great opportunities for these types of characters.
“Kung Fu Panda 2” opens in May 26 and is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp.