Angelina Jolie's (Surprise!) Tribute to Clint Eastwood

10/28/2008 at 08:55 AM EDT

Angelina Jolie's (Surprise!) Tribute to Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie
MARIO ANZUONI/Landov
She may be the most photographed woman in the world. But even Angelina Jolie can fly under the radar.

The actress – who recently returned from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan – made a surprise appearance at Monday night's Hollywood Film Festival Awards Gala, where she payed tribute to director Clint Eastwood.

In fact, Jolie's appearance was so unexpected, the A-list crowd gasped audibly when she was introduced.

The mother-of-six took time out of her busy schedule to present Eastwood – who helmed her most recent move, The Changeling – with the director of the year award.

"There are some people in this business that are icons, and we often wonder if, when we meet them, they'll live up to what we imagine them to be," she told the audience. "And Clint Eastwood in person is even better."

"Clint is what every great director should be," she continued. "He is a great leader. And I certainly would follow him anywhere."

That admiration appears to be mutual.

As he accepted the honor, Eastwood noted, "Working with someone like Angelina Jolie is a great privilege, because you get to look on that gorgeous beauty every day. And she's a great talent."

The two walked arm-in-arm from the stage. Then Jolie, wearing a floor-sweeping black gown and minimal makeup, slipped out of the event as stealthily as she'd arrived.

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