Angelina Jolie on How Daughter Shiloh Influenced Her Latest Movie Role

Angelina Jolie is crediting her daughter Shiloh for taking on her latest movie project, The One and Only Ivan. The actress tells ET that it was the 14-year-old who got her interested in the story in the first place, and made her excited to take on the role.

“Well, Shiloh years ago told me that she had read a book that she loved and she wanted me to read it,” Jolie told ET’s Nischelle Turner during a recent video chat, where she was joined by her 10-year-old co-star, Brooklynn Prince.

“I read it on my own and then we looked at some of it together and we talked about why she loved it,” Jolie recalled. “Then, I inquired if it was being made — as you do — into a film, and I found out that it was kinda in the works but kinda hadn’t [been] figured out.”

Over time, Jolie said she “tried to stay with it,” as it moved through the development and adaptation process, during which time, Jolie said her “main focus” was to “push it to stay as true to the book as possible.” 

In The One and Only Ivan, Jolie voices an aging elephant named Stella, who cares for an abandoned baby elephant named Ruby (played by Prince) inside a circus show at the Big Top Mall.

The film also features the vocal talents of Sam Rockwell — as the eponymous Ivan the Gorilla — as well as Danny DeVito and Helen Mirren. Bryan Cranston stars as Mack, the owner of the Big Top Mall where the animals live in captivity.

The book the film was based on, written by K. A. Applegate, was inspired by the true story of a lowland gorilla named Ivan who was kept in a concrete cage for over 20 years but learned to express himself through watercolor painting.

“It’s a very special story,” shared Jolie, who also served as a producer on the film. “It’s an important true story and I think that resonates with all of us.”

Jolie added that one reason the story may resonate even more strongly than anyone could have imagined is due to the way people have been struggling with being confined amid lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We didn’t know when it would be coming out. We didn’t understand, and it being something that is seen at home, where a lot of people are feeling confined, trying to hold onto their friends and trying to better themselves, trying to understand the world around them,” Jolie shared. “It is coming at a different time and I hope it does really resonate with people and also gives them some sense of hope. Because a big part of this is looking at what you do have and then helping others.”

“The story says, you know, it’s never too late to discover who you are and to push forward with that person and to better [yourself] and to be a better person and to make that choice,” she added.

The One and Only Ivan debuts exclusively on Disney+ on Aug. 21.

Angelina Jolie and Bryan Cranston on the True Story Behind ‘The One and Only Ivan’ (Exclusive)

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