The Italian actress moved to Los Angeles in her mid-thirties, just a couple years before landing the role of Luise Zamperini, the mother of Louis Zampoerini in the upcoming film Jolie directed Unbroken.
“It was a miracle, I would describe it like that,” Ischiale tells CELEBUZZ of how she got the role, which was offered to her without an agent and based solely on the audition tape Angie watched–a fact that would build a bond of a lifetime between the two incredible women.
Maddalena had of course heard of Jolie prior to auditioning for the part and actually felt extremely connected to the actress before she had ever even met her (Maddalena once directed a stage reading of Girl Interrupted in Italy). However, she still couldn’t help but question why she got the part.
“Angie and I were chatting and I asked, ‘Why did you pick me?'” Maddalena recalls. “She told me after watching just a few seconds of my audition tape she started screaming, ‘I found her! I found her!’ And I knew it was because of my heart… Angie has such a big heart. She’s so sensitive and so incredible so she can recognize when a heart is authentic.”
The heart is, of course, the most important quality of an actress who is playing the mother figure in any film. But it was also a quality Angelina herself encompassed as a director. In fact, Maddalena recalls the very first time she ever met Angelina, she could feel her heart.
“I didn’t meet Angie in person until I was on set,” she remembers. “She just gave me a big hug and said, ‘Oh, Mama! You’re here! Finally a woman in the movie!”
But more than just being a woman, Maddalena explains, “I have to say, when I met her that day, I felt like I was at home. I felt like we were family.”
And Angie proved that feeling to be true throughout the entire filming process.
“She’s so warm. She’s a mother. She was always on set. She was always looking after everyone, even the extras, making sure they were okay,” Maddalena describes Angie’s relationship with her actors behind-the-scenes. “At the same time, she’s an artist: attention to details, perfectionist, she’s somebody that doesn’t compromise. She’s so authentic and doesn’t compromise. She’s real.”
Maddalena says one of the most real characteristics about Angie–something that the public doesn’t often get the chance to see–is that she’s humble and supportive of other women rather than being competitive or judgmental.
“She kept emailing me how beautiful and how amazing my work was and how great of an actress I am,” Maddalena reveals. “And I’m like, ‘Wait. Angelina Jolie, the most beautiful woman on the planet keeps telling me how beautiful I am every day?’ She really made me feel beautiful!”
Maddalena also had a similar, almost unrealistic encounter with Brad Pitt.
The two had met on-set while filming but never had the opportunity to talk. So when Maddalena saw him at Louis Zamperini’s memorial this summer, she made sure to reintroduce herself.
“I go up to him and I’m like, ‘Hi Brad! I’m Maddelena,’ and he’s looking at me like, ‘Who are you?'”
When she finally told him that she played Luise in the film, he couldn’t help but gush over her performance.
“He stopped and looked at me, and he’s like, ‘Oh, Mama! You are so good in the movie,'” she recalls, explaining how he then blew her a kiss in the most Italian way possible.
“I’m here with Brad Pitt, and he’s talking to me in an Italian accent and blowing me a kiss and calling me Mama!” she laughs as she pinches herself over the dream-like encounter.
But that’s just how both Angie and Brad are… Magical.
“I saw them together in a very sad moment when Louis Zamperini died,” Maddalena describes the couple. “Even in a situation like that, when they are together they have this light… There is so much love, they are able to light an entire room.”
The film Unbroken hits theaters Dec. 25.