Actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian Angelina Joile added fragrance muse to her list of accomplishments last year when she became the face of Mon Guerlain. For the brand’s latest video campaign and scent Mon Guerlain Intense (a bolder iteration on the best-selling perfume) Jolie traveled to her home in remote northwestern Cambodia. That’s where Jolie’s family foundation has worked for eighteen years to help conserve the environment and support local communities.
In this BAZZAR.com exclusive behind-the-scenes video and interview, Jolie opens up about working with Oscar-winning director Emmanuel Lubeski on the soft – meets – wild advertisement, raising strong children, and her various initiatives and commitments to help save the planet. “He (Emmanuel Lubeski) is one of those artists that first beauty around them. He senses it, and adjusts to it. The first perfume commercial we did together, we wanted it to be authentic. I like the idea that you represent something that is truly like how you live in real life. I think people know that: when there’s truth or when’s there a fairy tale”, Jolie says in the clip “I think they prefer the truth”.
Here the full interview
What Did You Want To Express In This New Mon Guerlain Film?
Femininity and freedom. Perfume commercials often project a fantasy life. We wanted to make something different, based on a real life. My home in Cambodia has been a dream of mine. I have worked three for 17 years with my foundation, and I recently finally built a home there. So the Guarlain team graciously came to Cambodia and we explored this feeling of freedom and femininity and making bold choices in life.
Was It Difficult To Bring Guerlain’s Team To Cambodia?
No, they are quite adventurous. Part of what I’ve learned from Thierry (Thieery Wasser Guerlain Master Perfumer) is that creating a perfume is so much about exploring other countries, cultures, scents and products from around the world.
What’s The Story Behind The Music Of The Commercial, “Wild Things”?
The company chose the music. When we first met, we were getting to know each other, and talking about family and what it is to have a creative family. And at one point I mentioned that my uncle is a songwriter and that he wrote “Wild Thing”.
Do You Feel You Have A Wild Side?
I think every woman has all facets to her personality. Often, we can’t be as soft and free or wild and open as we deserve to be. There’s a lot between us and our full potential. One of the things that I wanted to put across is that a woman’s freedom is not aggressive, it’s not anti-men, it’s not angry, it’s not just dark and sexy-it’s happy, it’s joyful, it’s female and it belongs to us.
Were You And Guerlain Trying To Express Something Specific About The Image Of Women With This Film?
One of the things we often don’t speak about, when we talk about women’s rights, is it is not only about women having the right to go to school, or to be safe within their homes, or to have certain freedoms. There’s also the right to be a woman, to be soft. We don’t want to have to fight every day, to challenge, to prove that we can work or be tough or raise our kids and do everything at one. We want the right to be soft. By nature, we’re very nurturing, soft and gentle creatures. It is our true nature, along with being very wild and everything else we choose to be.
The Commercial Is Full Of References To Nature. And Your Home Is Set Amid The Cambodian Tropical Forest. Is The Something You Wanted To Express In The Film?
We think of perfume as something in a bottle, but it’s really different materials and essences collected from around the world. So, it felt very natural that nature would be a part o a perfume commercial. It’s what really inspires it.
What Is Your Best Memory Of The Shoot?
We all sat together and did a blessing. Everybody’s always rushing when you make something like this. Everybody wanted to take a moment, be grateful, quiet and be in the country. It was very special.
Could You Tell Us More About Your Commitment In Cambodia?
The area where the film was shot was the first and last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. It’s near the Thai border, where a lot of people took refuge. When they returned, the aced a huge problem with landmines. I started working in the country eighteen years ago with the UN, and then I met my son. I wanted this little place or him and I wanted to help the country in some way. We quickly realized that we had to protect the environment because in addition to the landmines in the ground there was a lot of illegal logging, gem mining, and poaching. Our foundation is Cambodian run. We have ten schools and two clinics. We’re all a family and work very well together. Cambodia has been through so much and is still trying to recover, but the people are so beautiful and so strong. We wanted to be part of helping the country move forward.
Can You Tell Us About Your Bee Project With Guerlain?
I had a very humble, small beekeeping program. When Guerlain came, they said “we know something about bees, we might help”. They spent time with the local people and sent an ethno-botanist to Cambodia. We hope our new project will help create jobs and skills while protecting biodiversity in the area. If it goes well, we will see if we can replicate it in other areas. That’s all each of us can do: something small, make sure it works, and hope that through practice we can show that to be responsible with land is the better practice.
What Are Your Daily Small Acts Or Gestures To Help The Planet?
I try to be responsible, but I’m not perfect in any way. With six children, it’s not easy to have some perfect idea of how to run a perfect home where everything is perfectly recycled. I do my best to explain to the children the importance of these things, to help them to understand, to educate them, to travel with them, to help them see how things are affected. My children spend a lot of time in places like Cambodia, Namibia and around the world, so they see the effects of damage done by waste. And I do have these projects around the world where I work with local people try to empower them to be able to do more and take care of their environment.
Do You Think You Can Help To Change The World With An Image Or A Fragrance?
No, but I think it’s important not to forget that side of ourselves. As women, we’re very busy, so sometimes putting on perfume might be the only moment we have to ourselves that day. It makes us feel female and it helps to remind us there’s something about us that deserve to be nurtured. I thinks that is more important than I realized when I first joined this campaign.
You Share A Lot Of Values With Guerlain. Do You Have A Specific Memory Connected To The House?
My mother didn’t have much time to take care of herself. She didn’t quite know how, which is why she wanted Jacqueline Bisset, my goodmother, to be part of my life. She admired her intelligence, elegance, and grace. But she one powder she has was this Guelaine Ladies in All Climates and she wore it for very, very special occasions. It was a beautiful powder from Paris that made her feel like a lady, when she was busy raising kids as a single mom. It was one little hint of a life that she had dreamt of and wished for.
What Is The Main Value You Try To Transmit To Your Children?
Kindness. They’re very strong individuals, they are very open-minded and very kind. I try to lead by example and to be as kind and gracious, and loving and tolerant, as my mother was. But also, when there’s a fight that needs to be had, I want them feel they have the strength. So, I hope they are learning to be kind, with a little bit of fight withnin them.
Can You Tell Us More About Your Future Projects?
One of the projects I’m working on is a news program for children with the BBC WorldService and Microsoft Education. I am also working on a book projects on children’s rights with Amnesty International, to help children understand their rights and how to put them into practice.
What Do You Like To Do In Paris?
I like to talk to people in Paris. It’s such a special country culturally and historically. The kind of dialogue happening here in the city is very special. I feel very educated and very enlightened when I’m able to come here and sit and speak to people.
How Would You Sum Up Your Life In One Word?
Freedom, because without freedom you have nothing. Freedom of thought, freedom of movement, freedom for yourself and others. I am certainly aware that I have many more freedoms than most, so I’m very grateful.
What Is The Craziest Thing You Have Done?
I hope that I am yet to do it.