Angelina Jolie: Her new film gave life meaning

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie has said her new film Unbroken has given her own life meaning.

The movie, the star's second as director, is the story of WWII hero Louis Zamperini, who the actress hadn't realised was her Los Angeles neighbour.

Angelina told the Today show that Louis, who was taken prisoner by the Japanese army during the Second World War, had helped her "so much" in her life. "I wanted to direct something again, but I just wasn't sure what. And it had to be something I love and care about because it takes much more time away from your family, much more effort than acting," she said of making the film.

The movie is based on Lauren Hillenbrand's book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption.

But Angelina had no clue that the subject of the book, Louis, was her neighbour. She said: "I imagine that for the last 10-something years (Louis) has been sitting there having a coffee in the morning and wondering who's going to make this movie.

"And I've been sitting in my room laying there thinking, 'What am I supposed to be doing with my life? I wanna do something important... I need some help. I need some guidance. Where is it?' And it was right outside my window."

The mother-of-six added that the film was "a huge responsibility... because I love him so much and because he's helped me so much in my life."

The 38-year-old, who embraced 97-year-old Louis, a former Olympic runner, on the NBC show, said that the subject of the film was one that is full of hope.

("The world) can seem hopeless and it can seem very overwhelming. But the resilience and the strength of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing," she said.

The actress said that making the film was "the hardest thing [she's] ever done" and that she " pitched [her] butt off" to get Universal to take it on. Unbroken is due out in December and stars Skins actor Jack O'Connell in the lead role.