"I couldn't relate to it," says Jolie, suggesting her reputation as a tough cookie is not too wide of the mark.
But within seconds, Jolie - looking stunning in a plain dark olive green jumper - is fighting back tears.
And the journalists have their story.
She pauses to compose herself as she explains how she based her performance on her "really, really sweet" actress mother, Marcheline Bertrand - who died last year.
It is this softer, emotional side of Jolie that pervades the rest of the press conference as she talks affectionately about her family.
Jolie says Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, was "a very hard film for all of us to make".
Jolie is being tipped for a best actress Oscar for Changeling
The movie, which is being tipped for best picture and best actress Oscars, tells the story of Collins's fight for the truth after police officers return a different child to her, claiming it is her son.
When she tries to force them to admit they have the wrong boy and to resume the search, she is thrown into a psychiatric ward.
"As a mum, it was horrible and I had my kids with me as much as possible at work and, after doing the day at work, I would just run home and I just wanted to be silly.
"It was so emotional that I found myself just being very, very goofy."
She says her four-month old twins, Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon, are "upstairs - hopefully sleeping".
Asked if she and the other half of Hollywood's most famous couple, Brad Pitt, plan to expand their family - which already numbers six children - Jolie replies: "Sure we do."
Jolie says she and Pitt are looking forward to "doing the stockings"
A big family Christmas is planned in the "Brangelina" household, she says.
"We're usually exhausted by Christmas Eve.
"We love it - it's that fun of sitting up in the middle of the night and wrapping the presents together and doing the stockings and all that kind of stuff.
"It's kind of the best thing about being a mom and dad."
Such is the graceful emotion exuded by Jolie that, when a journalist asks how she is feeling in herself after the recent "extremes" of losing her mother and giving birth to twins, she actually thanks him for asking.
But anyone who thinks she has lost her edge should think again.
Jolie won the best supporting actress Oscar for Girl, Interrupted in 2000
The same press man's follow-up question is met with an icy stare.
"There was a lot of focus on how thin you looked during the shooting of the film and in the film. I just wondered if you're healthier now?" he asks.
"I think that's an odd question," she replies simply.
As the press conference goes on, it can only be a matter of time before someone asks Jolie the killer question - how does she respond to Jennifer Aniston's claims that she romanced Pitt while he was still married to the Friends actress?
Whoever asks it may well get the cold shoulder from an actress who clearly takes no prisoners.
But the chance of taking the prize of a headline-grabbing retort back to editors is surely too good to miss. Isn't it?
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