It sounds like a scene from “Fight Club.”
French police say camouflaged paparazzi who managed to get onto the grounds of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s chateau in southern France on Thursday fought with the Hollywood couple’s guards. Both the paparazzi and the Jolie-Pitt’s head of security confirmed the confrontation but gave widely different versions of events.
Freelance photographer Luc Goursolas said he broke a guard’s finger and bit another until he bled, and that they hit him with a walkie-talkie, punched and kicked him, leaving a head wound that required three stitches.
“I was pouring blood. I threw myself at them, put blood all over them, and told them that I had HIV so they would stop hitting me,” Goursolas told The Associated Press on Friday.
Tony Webb, head of security at the Miraval estate, said Goursolas went “berserk” without provocation and denied that his guards punched the photographer.
He said Jolie and Pitt may be forced to move if their privacy is not respected, and that the couple feels besieged. He said local police are not taking the problem seriously enough.
“If they get invasion of their privacy like this then they would have no option, and they would have to go somewhere where the laws are upheld a bit better,” Webb told the AP.
“It’s just not fair, they are in their own property and you’ve got him (Goursolas) and there could be another dozen out there that we can’t find” on the 1,235-acre property, he said. “They are just a couple trying to bring up their young family.”
Goursolas said he wasn’t on the property but in woods nearby where the guards, on quad bikes, found him. “The forest belongs to everyone,” he said, adding that he walked five hours to get there. “I wasn’t in their garden.”
He said he didn’t take any photos. The colleague who was with him, camerawoman Marianne Saint-Arroman, said she didn’t take any video. She confirmed they were wearing khaki and camouflage to avoid being seen in the woods. “We weren’t going to wear a red sweater,” she said.
Jolie returned last weekend to the estate after the July 12 birth of her twins, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline, in the Mediterranean city of Nice, about 60 miles away.
Goursolas claimed that Pitt came out to speak to them after the fight. “He told me, ’What you are doing is bad, I am fed up with my private property being violated’ ... and then he said, ’If you want war you will get it.”’
Webb said he wasn’t on hand at that point but added that he didn’t think Pitt said that.
Police spokeswoman Capt. Olivia Poupot said both sides filed legal complaints accusing the other of battery and causing injury. Goursolas said he also filed complaints for illegal detention and arrest.
The police spokeswoman said the injured personnel from the estate got doctors’ notes giving them four days off from work, but that the photographers did not. Police took everyone downtown to the nearby village of Carces and took statements. A judge will rule on whether the legal complaints should be pursued further, she said.
“One can imagine that if you discover someone in your garden who is taking your photo then you’re not necessarily going to politely show them the way out,” she said.
Poupot said it was the first time the chateau has called on police to intervene since the Jolie-Pitts settled there earlier this year, ahead of the twins’ birth.
But she said she had no other information.
“This kind of thing is really not the type of problem that interests us,” she said. “There are, in my opinion, far more important things than paparazzi taking photos of a glamour couple.”