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updated 5/21/2007 4:25:19 PM ET 2007-05-21T20:25:19

Angelina Jolie, who plays the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in "A Mighty Heart," said she was overwhelmed by Mariane Pearl's inner strength and her ability to let go of hatred.

"For me, so much of why this film was important to do is because I highly doubt there is anybody in this room who has more reason to hold hate inside herself than Mariane, and she doesn't," Jolie told reporters Monday at the Cannes Film Festival.

"She is a very compassionate, thoughtful person who looks to dialogue to change things, to make things better. ... That is, I think, a lesson for all of us," the 31-year-old actress said.

"A Mighty Heart," directed by Michael Winterbottom, is based on Mariane Pearl's memoir of the same name. It recounts the search for her husband after his abduction in Pakistan in 2002, where he was researching a story on Islamic militants.

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She was more than five months' pregnant at the time. Their son, Adam, was born a few months later.

Jolie's character breaks down only once in the movie _ near the end _ when she learns of her husband's death.

"I was very, very nervous to get it right," Jolie said of her role.

Jolie's partner, Brad Pitt, the movie's co-producer, was also at Cannes for the premiere.

Pitt said everyone involved "felt great responsibility" for the film.

Pearl said her friendship with Jolie grew over the course of the project.

"I think about the fact that my son will see the film one day, and this is a great moment of pain for me," Pearl said. "And this role was played by somebody who loves me, and it means a lot to me."

Jolie said her own pregnancy during the movie's preparatory stages helped her understand what Pearl went through.

"I remember being six months pregnant and thinking, 'I can't imagine at this time not having the father with me ... and being concerned about his life, and trying to eat and trying to remember to get some sleep and trying to take a deep breath and physically even just moving around,'" she said.

"So as a woman, it just made me so much more connected to her and aware of her."

Pearl was captured by Islamic militants in January 2002. Despite worldwide pleas for his release, he was beheaded nine days later; video of the killing was posted the Internet.

Dan Futterman plays Pearl in Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Vantage film.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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