Hollywood star Angelina Jolie delighted Russians as she arrived in Moscow to promote her thriller movie where she plays a "big hero" Russian spy two weeks after a real-life espionage swap fascinated the world.
In Moscow on the heels of the biggest spy exchange between Russia and the United States since the end of the Cold War, Jolie said Sunday evening her playing a Russian in the spy thriller movie "Salt" was a good thing for the country.
"Maybe there are some bad guys that are Russians but if you look closely the big hero is Russian," Jolie said of the movie at its Russian premier in central Moscow.
"So I think it's very positive for Russia," the actress, who wore a scarlet halter dress that revealed some of her famous tattoos, said in her brief speech.
With her latest fast-paced action movie, Jolie is essentially bucking the Hollywood trend by playing a good Russian.
She plays CIA officer Evelyn Salt, who turns out to be a Russian spy. Her real name is Chenkov and she was trained since childhood for a mission which has the ultimate goal of preparing for war against the United States.
Dedicated to the mission, Chenkov-Salt however turns against her Russian spy master and fellow sleeper spies when they kill her German husband whom she is deeply attached to.
For the movie -- and the premier -- Jolie had to learn some Russian, she said.
"Dobry vecher!" (Good evening), she greeted the audience before the start of the film. "I tried to speak a bit of Russian. Hope I did OK."
The spy movie hits the screens just weeks after the spy swap between Russia and the United States during which Washington detained and deported 10 real-life Kremlin sleeper spies after they were exchanged for four Russian convicts on Vienna tarmac.
Jolie's heroine is also at the heart of a spy swap with North Korea in one of the movie's opening scenes.
The actress spoke just hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed he gave a heroes' welcome to the 10 spies, singing Soviet-era patriotic songs with them.
The film's crew, who travelled to Russia for a scene on the Volga River, said they were fascinated with the notion of the Russian sleeper agents.
"There?s something really mysterious and sexy about the notion that somebody could lie in wait -- for decades, if necessary," producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura was quoted as saying by Sony Pictures, whose unit Columbia Pictures made the movie.
"We discovered it was more real than we could have guessed," Jolie was quoted as saying. "Truth really is stranger than fiction."
Fans waited for hours in Moscow's baking summer heat to steal a glimpse of their favourite actress. People screamed and cheered as ordinary and famous Russian men and women professed their love for the Hollywood celebrity.
During a 40-minute red-carpet appearance before the start of the movie Jolie gave out autographs and brief interviews, telling the Russians to travel the world whenever they felt frustrated.
Asked how she saw herself, Jolie said: "I am a mother to my kids.... You don't get enough sleep but they make you very happy.... I am Brad's woman."
Jolie raises six children with her partner and fellow Hollywood star Brad Pitt.
And if the audience's reaction on Sunday was any indication, the movie is likely to win rave reviews among Russians who are accustomed to seeing themselves depicted as mafia thugs and prostitutes in Western films.