It's a disturbing tale of petty tyranny, political turmoil, and ungodly catastrophe. And that was just the casting process. For three years, the romantic drama about a relief worker (Clive Owen) who falls in love with a socialite (Angelina Jolie) struggled to survive under changing directors (Oliver Stone was once attached), MIA stars (Ralph Fiennes, Kevin Costner, Meg Ryan, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all backed out), and the threat of an actors' strike. The big-budget epic wrapped more than a year ago but sat on the shelf for a while. But Jolie insists that was a matter of timing, not trouble. ''It's certainly not a summer movie,'' she says. ''We had to wait for the right season.''
The epic begins in 1984 and tracks the star-crossed duo through 10 years and several countries, including poverty-stricken Cambodia and war-torn Chechnya. But Jolie, who is, in fact, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, promises that it won't feel like a Peace Corps promotional video. ''We're so afraid that people are going to see this as only a humanitarian war film,'' she says. ''It's also a very sexy love story that has a beating pulse. It's not heavy or depressing.''
The Killer Moment ''When Clive first speaks at this gala,'' says Jolie. ''It's the speech that launches the story. I cried, it's so moving.''