In a joint interview with Mariane Pearl, whom Jolie plays in the new movie A Mighty Heart, the actress tells Glamour she was intimidated by the prospect of meeting Pearl for the first time.
"I remember being really nervous, thinking, she's such an intelligent European woman – what are we going to do together?" says Jolie, 31.
They chose to attend a "serious, European, existential play," says Jolie. "It seemed like the right thing [and it was supposed to be okay for kids]. But [their sons] Adam and Mad got antsy, and finally halfway through, to each other's relief, we were both like, do you want to get out of here?"
Pearl, whose husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was killed by Islamic militants in Pakistan, initiated the friendship with Jolie after reading an interview with her.
"I was alone in New York with Adam, still having a rough time [after Danny's death]," Pearl tells Glamour. I read an interview with Angie in a magazine, about her and Maddox and her life as a single mom. And I thought, this woman could be my friend. ... So I sent her a note saying, do you want to have a playdate?"
Soon the women – and their children – became fast friends. "Her instincts were right – we did have so much in common," Jolie says. "And all the kids are great friends now. Zahara is madly in love with Adam."
Meanwhile, Pearl had already met with Brad Pitt about making a movie version of her book, A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Daniel Pearl – but Pitt and Jolie were not yet dating at the time.
"To be honest, I wasn't even sure I wanted to do a movie," Pearl says. "But when I met Brad – well, out of all the studios, he was the only one who had actually read the book!"
Now the film, starring Jolie and produced by Pitt's production company, will debut at Cannes in May and is due in theaters in June.
But Jolie's friendship with Pearl didn't mean she had no reservations about playing her. "I was so nervous!" she says. "I mean, it's like you're in a roomful of your closest friends and somebody says, 'Why don't you get up and imitate the friend to your left?' Nobody would want to do that, ever!"
It didn't help that Jolie had to portray Pearl at her hardest moment – when she got the news of her husband's death. "It became the worst acting day of my life," Jolie says, "and really, the hardest thing I've ever done."
But Pearl says her husband would be proud of the film. "He's the person I did it for," she says. "If it were just for me, I wouldn't have done a movie at all. But without the book and movie, he would've been known more for the way he died than the way he lived. I couldn't accept that."
Marvi Lacar for Glamour