Angelina Jolie explains why Gaga the duck isn't in her film 'Unbroken'
If you’ve read Unbroken, the 2010 Laura Hillenbrand book that Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is adapted from, you will no doubt remember one particularly horrific passage involving a little duck named Gaga. Louie Zamperini (portrayed by Jack O’Connell in the film) had already suffered an extraordinary amount when he became a prisoner-of-war during WWII—including surviving a plane crash and spending 47 days adrift in a raft in the Pacific. Gaga was a friendly duck that used to hang around the camp and lift the soldiers’ spirits.
Zamperini told Hillenbrand that the event that haunted him the most was when a sadistic Japanese guard tortured and killed Gaga in a truly terrible way; read the book if you must know more. (This episode traumatized so many readers that Hillenbrand didn’t include it for a new edition aimed for a YA audience. “I know that if I were 12 and reading it, that would upset me,” Hillenbrand told The New York Times. )
Angelina Jolie felt similarly. “We were never going to do what really happened to Gaga because we felt like it was unnecessary,” she says.
But Jolie did want to have a duck in the film as a representation of Gaga. Easier said that done: “So it was like: ‘Okay, we need to find a really skinny duck with a limp,'” she says. “So we had a search. We found some ducks but they were big and too healthy,” she says with a laugh. “So they put the ducks on a diet and then the one who would be Gaga had to have a splint on. We were actually having meetings about the ducks! So we tried these splints, but it was bothering [the duck’s] legs. It just made the duck want to lay down.” She laughs again. “At a certain point we just thought, yeah, okay, we can’t do this.”