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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Jolie tells of Pearl 'friendship'

By Stephen Robb
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

Angelina Jolie in Cannes
Jolie said her own pregnancy helped her empathise with Mrs Pearl
Angelina Jolie has praised the widow of murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Hollywood star plays Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart, which is showing out of competition in Cannes.

The two women became friends after Mrs Pearl asked Jolie to play the part because "I thought she understood me".

"I highly doubt that there is anybody in this room who has more reason to hold hate inside herself than Mariane, and she doesn't," Jolie told reporters.

"That is, I think, a lesson for all of us."

The film, directed by Britain's Michael Winterbottom, has its premiere later.

US journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 while investigating a story on radical Muslim groups for the Wall Street Journal.

A video CD was later delivered to the US authorities showing him being murdered.

'Great responsibility'

Angelina Jolie as Marianne Pearl
Jolie filmed scenes for the movie in India
A Mighty Heart is based on the book written by Mrs Pearl detailing her ordeal.

"I was very, very nervous to get it right, but worked very, very hard to try," said Jolie.

"We all said through the whole thing, 'If it doesn't fall together right, we drop it - it's too important.'"

I care very much about her and the story
Angelina Jolie on Mariane Pearl
She added: "I did finally speak to her [Mrs Pearl] days after she saw it, and she told me it was all right.

"For her to tell me that she felt it was done right, I can't tell you how much that means to me."

Brad Pitt, Jolie's partner and producer of the film, said: "Everyone involved of course felt a great responsibility.

"We are very happy that the film maintained some of the dignity of Mariane and Daniel themselves."

'Close friends'

Mrs Pearl met Jolie after a magazine interview with the actress convinced her "that we could be close and friends".

"We do have a lot in common, and I care very much about her and the story," said Jolie.

The film largely focuses on the investigation to find the kidnapped reporter that involved Pakistan and US authorities, his colleagues and Mrs Pearl.

Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart
The film is based on Marianne Pearl's book
She was pregnant at the time, and the film ends with her giving birth to the couple's son, Adam.

Jolie was herself pregnant during the planning of the film.

"I remember thinking, 'I can't imagine at this time not having the father with me, and being concerned for his life, and trying to eat, and trying to remember to get some sleep, and take a deep breath," she said.

"As a woman it just made me so much more connected to her."

Winterbottom has three times had films in competition in Cannes, including 1997's Welcome to Sarajevo, set against the backdrop of the 1990s Bosnian War.

His last film was Road to Guantanamo, about British Muslims detained at the US naval base as part of the so-called "war on terror".

The director was a "citizen of the world, a world traveller, he has worked in these areas, he focuses on these issues out of his own interest", said Pitt.

"We really felt like he was the best storyteller for this."

Clips from A Mighty Heart

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