What’s one sure-fire way for a new movie to catch my interest? If it’s press release contains the name Angelina Jolie and the phrase femme fatale, that’s how. And several of the press releases for the latest from director Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) do just that. Salt first made waves in the media last year when it was reported that Angelina Jolie would be replacing Tom Cruise in the film’s leading role—that of the CIA operative Edwin Salt, re-dubbed Edwina Salt for obvious reasons.
According to several sources, Angelina demanded additional changes to the script as soon as negotiations over the role were finalized. “No sooner had her casting been announced than Angelina supposedly ordered [the character’s name] to be changed again, to Evelyn Salt”, says a post on Celebitchy.com. It is also rumored that Angie would accept no less than a complete script overhaul by top screenwriter Brian Helgeland, one that would make Salt a strong competitor with the Matt Damon Bourne Identity series.
The new wave of media coverage surrounding the film is not focused on the antics and demands of Angelina Jolie, however. Following the release of a few promo photos by USA Today of Angie in costume as Evelyn Salt, talk has turned to the unclear identity of this rogue CIA agent who may, or may not, be a Russian sleeper agent as well. Apparently, Evelyn A. Salt is a woman of many faces—appearing in one photo as a classically kissable blond, while the other photo reveals her more dusky side with long brunette locks and harsh bangs.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s description of Evelyn Salt is uncannily reminiscent of early descriptions of Jane Smith, Jolie’s character in her drama-inciting venture with now-husband Brad Pitt, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. “She’s a character you never know,” says Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “People who think they know the real her may or may not. Those who think they can tell whether she’s in a disguise also may or may not.
“You’re supposed to be kept guessing. She tells you her agenda, but are you supposed to believe it?” di Bonaventura remains adamant that Salt is different from other spy characters (read: James Bond, Jason Bourne) because she is the one trying to hide truths about herself rather than discover them. If you ask me, that’s not necessarily an entirely unique premise for a character—I can think of at least five others who are completely preoccupied with protecting their identities.
Noyce has promised fans that Salt will be “a reality-based spy movie with action set pieces as thrilling as the most crowd-pleasing movies of this genre.” Whether his promise will be fulfilled we will have to wait and see—although I’m excited about Salt, I am a little nervous about seeing Angelina in a leading role so soon after the abomination that was Wanted and the mediocre drama The Changling.