She's a human rights advocate and, in summer action flick ''Wanted,'' a remorseless killer. In a frank interview, the star with the disarming and dangerous persona talks about sex, tattoos, motherhood, war, and peace

Think it’s difficult finding a Father’s Day present for the man in your life? Try being Angelina Jolie.

”Brad is the hardest person to shop for,” she says of her partner, Brad Pitt, while checking out a window display of Corum watches at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat in the south of France. ”He has impeccable design taste. And whenever he sees something he likes, he buys it for himself.” Pitt’s most recent gift to Jolie — the gun-charm necklace she wore to her EW photo shoot — is also a tough act to follow.

”Mad, our 6-year-old, draws lots of war scenarios,” she explains. ”He’s all into war and guns. So for Mother’s Day he drew a machine gun, and Brad had it made into a necklace, which is really sweet. It’s really cute. I think it’s really good!”

Leave it to Angelina Jolie to drop the words cute and machine gun in the same breath. The 33-year-old Academy Award winner has always cultivated dual identities: On the one hand, she’s been the Mistress of the Dark (as in her fascinations with tattoos, knives, and blood); on the other, she’s the Minister of Light (her work promoting international peace). Her next starring film roles keep that dichotomy alive: On June 27 she appears as Fox, a morally driven assassin who mentors a shlubby office worker (Atonement‘s James McAvoy) in the graphically violent Wanted, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch). And in October she stars in Clint Eastwood‘s latest film, Changeling, as a 1920s single mom whose 9-year-old son disappears.

Changeling‘s premiere at the recent Cannes Film Festival earned Jolie strong reviews, but her life off screen garnered even more attention: Paparazzi have been tailing Jolie, Pitt, and their four children (Maddox, 6; Pax, 4; Zahara, 3; and Shiloh, 2) all over southern France. And last month’s false reports that Jolie, who’s expecting twins later this summer, delivered early caused a media maelstrom. (”I just think it’s all a bit crazy,” she says of the tabloid insanity in general. ”They just have to make up stuff. We find it odd all the time because we’re probably very boring people when it comes to many things.”) Over a lunch of filet mignon and iced tea, Jolie discussed her new films and her polarizing public persona.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I was describing the plot of Wanted to a friend and she said, ”So instead of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, this is just Mrs. Smith.”
ANGELINA JOLIE: Maybe this is Mrs. Smith after she killed Mr. Smith, went into depression, and got very, very, very moody. Fox is not happy, and she’s not easy to be around. She was interesting to me because she isn’t the love interest and she isn’t having fun with it like the Tomb Raider. She’s darker.

What’s she unhappy about?
Well, her father was killed, and she’s dedicated her life to this idea of a code. And she doesn’t really have a life outside of that. She’s that person on the police force or something where their badge is their life and you can’t communicate with them on any other level.

What convinced you to do the movie?
I was in between A Mighty Heart and Changeling, which were two very, very emotionally difficult films to do. And my mom had passed away in that year. And I’d had a baby. So everything in me was just feeling very fragile. And so, knowing myself, I thought, What I need to do most is get up and get focused and get aggressive and get out of myself a little bit. We discussed that at home — that that would be good for me. Then I read this and knew they were casting McAvoy, and I thought, That sounds really unusual. I met Timur and I knew that he’d include a story. I know that sounds odd, but a lot of action movies rely so much on generic special effects or a story we’ve heard before.

NEXT PAGE: ”The idea behind Wanted is not that she’s a badass assassin that just likes to kill people. It’s that, if you ran into Hitler before he did everything, and you knew, should you shoot him? And I would.”