Celebrated actors Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012) join Angelina Jolie in Columbia Pictures’ spy thriller Salt as CIA officers who are at odds in dealing with Evelyn Salt’s (Jolie) explosive case.
As a CIA officer, Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt’s efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who Is Salt?"
Schreiber is an actor known for serious dramatic roles in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and Defiance , but he has also recently branched out into action with Wolverine. "Liev is very politically aware and very thoughtful, so he’s great to work with," says Jolie. "He takes the role seriously, and still has fun with it."
When Schreiber was first sent the script for Salt, he read it very quickly, he says. "It was a page-turner," he recalls. "I zipped right through it. It was a really fun read."
Schreiber, who plays Ted Winter, Salt’s boss at the CIA, was also intrigued by the concept of the hunt for a sleeper spy, who has been living in deep cover with a new identity. "I’ve heard so many stories about undercover cops who’ve gone into deep cover for years at a time and then kind of lost themselves in their roles," he says. "They had become really confused about their allegiance and needed serious deprogramming once they were pulled out." This is the question that Winter must grapple with as he’s torn between wanting to help Salt and wanting to catch her. Can the person he knows so well really be someone else entirely?
Jolie describes Schreiber as "one of the actors that doesn’t sit back. He puts a lot of work in, and we knew when he came in that he was going to make his character better and stronger."
Similarly, the filmmakers sought a high-energy actor who could bring out the intensity in Peabody, the man whose job it is to track Salt and bring her back in. As a product of the CIA’s counter-intelligence division, he is not an especially sympathetic character. "They’re not the policy makers, they’re the guns," Jolie explains. Jolie was especially pleased when Olivier Award-winning British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was seen in the films 2012 and American Gangster, was cast. "He’s a strong man, Chiwetel, and he’s very tough. He’s such an amazing actor."
As the counter-intelligence officer on the case, it is Peabody ’s job to determine whether the defector is lying about Salt or telling the truth. "It starts as kind of a dual pursuit of her - to physically get her back into custody, and also to work out whether there is a mole, and whether she is that mole," says Ejiofor. "And that becomes the cat and mouse of the film."
"Peabody ’s attitude is that he is going to catch Salt, no matter what it takes," says producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "There’s an intensity to Chiwetel’s performance that is so graceful. I think people are going to fear for Evelyn Salt as he’s chasing her."
Since he plays the antagonist, having a good working relationship with Ejiofor was important to Jolie. "I think it’s important to get along very, very well with the person who’s your enemy in the movie, because you end up being a little bolder in your fights," she says. "He and I had a good time."
Opening soon across the Philippines, Salt is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.