Angelina Jolie has been relatively prolific as a director and voice actor, but it feels all too rare these days that we get to see her on-screen. Which makes her upcoming film Those Who Wish Me Dead that much more exciting. Based on a 2014 novel by the best-selling crime writer Michael Koryta, the thriller centers on a shaken preteen played by the Australian up-and-comer Finn Little, who hides in the woods after witnessing a brutal murder.
It’s there that he encounters Jolie’s character, Hannah, a “smoke jumper” who battles forest fires and is still reeling from the recent loss of three lives she was unable to save. “I read the wind wrong,” she says pensively, recalling the roaring blaze. “I should have saved them.” Even though, as a coworker points out, it would have killed her: “That’s our job,” she replies through tears.
When Hannah spies a blood-stained teen stumbling through the Montanan wilderness, then, she jumps into action, building up the boy’s trust as headhunters prowl the woods with guns and even set them ablaze. “That eats everything in its path,” Jolie tells him, pointing at the fire that the crew actually set—under the supervision of real firefighters—in real life. “The first day we were in the fire, [I noticed] the heat and how quickly the winds would change and how quickly the fire would suddenly take to a tree that you weren't expecting,” the 45-year-old mother of six recently told Entertainment Weekly. “Our respect just grew day after day for these people on the front lines and how difficult this work is."
Those Who Wish Me Dead, which also stars Tyler Perry and Nicholas Hoult, was directed by Taylor Sheridan, the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter behind Sicario and Hell or High Water. If you’re wishing you could take in all the action on big screens, you’re in luck; the film hits theaters on the same date it premieres on HBO Max, May 14.