December 10th, 2014
10:19 AM ET

Angelina Jolie Takes on Directing Role

Louie Zamperini's life story is epic. He overcame adversity to get to the Olympics, became a top bombardier in World War II, survived 47 days at sea after a plane crash and endured two and a half years in a prison camp. And all of that only scratches the surface.

The book was an instant bestseller, but the shark attack, the war and the sheer emotions that came with it would make for a difficult film production. Needless to say, someone special was needed to bring this story to the big screen. Angelina Jolie stepped up to the challenge.

"I remember thinking, 'Why has it taken over 50 years for someone to do this, it’s the most obvious movie,'" Jolie tells New Day's Chris Cuomo.  "And then there was a day where I thought, 'Oh.  That’s why.'"

She showed Zamperini the film toward the end of his life. He was in the hospital, "preparing himself to pass away," Jolie says.

"He was revisiting his memories. And I was just there to watch those sparkly blue eyes, and, you know, just felt honored to be there."

When she started preparing to direct "Unbroken," Jolie was making the decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after her doctors told her that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. She is grateful that she was able to be around Zamperini at that time; that she was able to focus on his survival story while essentially writing her own.

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"Unbroken" comes to theaters on Christmas Day.

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