MOSCOW (Reuters) - Angelina Jolie whipped up Soviet-era nostalgia and patriotism for Mother Russia at the Moscow premiere of her spy thriller “Salt.”
Clad in a floor-length Versace gown she described as “Russian Red,” Jolie blew kisses to thousands of fans who came to watch her play a suspected Russian double agent in the blockbuster, which opened at No. 2 in the U.S. at $36.5 million.
“I think this film is positive for modern Russia,” a broadly smiling Jolie told Reuters television at her first ever premiere in Moscow. Earlier, she took four of her six children to see the gold onion domes and iconic red walls of the Kremlin.
“As much as there are bad guys that are Russian, there are also heroes that are Russian in this film,” she said as her diamond stud earrings sparkled in the sunshine of Moscow’s record-setting heatwave.
The film, which evokes Cold War suspicions, enjoyed a stroke of luck with its timing, coming shortly after 10 arrested Russian spies in the United States were swapped for four imprisoned Russians suspected of working for the West.
Jolie has previously called the connection “bizarre,” but declined to comment on press rumors that she had invited glamorous redhead spy Anna Chapman to Sunday’s premiere.
Reviews for Salt have been mixed in the United States, but commentators have said distributor Columbia Pictures is banking on the film striking a chord with Russian audiences.
“It really makes me happy that we have returned to the theme of Russian spies in Hollywood films,” 23-year-old architect Alexander said after watching the film.
On Sunday evening, the audience erupted into applause when Jolie’s eponymous character, CIA analyst Evelyn Salt, revealed her Russian identity on the big screen.
The packed cinema also jubilantly howled when Jolie said “Good evening” in Russian ahead of unveiling the film.
But her hours of Russian training, which she described as an “aggressive but soft and seductive” language, will be lost on Russian audiences as it was entirely dubbed for general release.
Russian earnings of the film will not be known until it officially opens on July 29.
“It just goes to show that Russians are the winners after all. I really thank Angelina for showing that,” film student Sasha, 19, told Reuters after the screening.
Editing by Steve Addison