Angelina Jolie came out in strong support of her old pal Ewan McGregor by hosting a London screening Sunday night of JA Bayona’s tsunami drama The Impossible.

The film, which premiered in Toronto, is already a record-setting box office hit in Spain and gets its UK premiere this week via eOne.

At an intimate Soho Hotel screening attended by the likes of Mike Figgis and Peter Capaldi, Jolie welcomed guests and gushed with praise for the film.

“We all remember the tsunami and we all remember watching it on TV, and it seemed so far away and so unbelievable that this could happen and hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, and yet for all the stories that we read, I think for so many people it still felt so far away.

“What the filmmakers have done is they have made it – through this one family’s story – personal. And we feel like we are in it and we travel through it, and it changes us. That is quite an extraordinary thing,” she said.

She praised Sergio Sanchez’s script for its “brilliance and elegance” and added “it is also masterfully directed by JA Bayona, there will be many scenes when you’re watching that you’ll be thinking, how did they do that!?…it’s beyond comprehension.”

Jolie called Naomi Watts’ performance “extraordinary and beautiful” and then told the film’s young star Tom Holland — a 2012 Screen Star of Tomorrow — “I am a huge fan of yours and I hope I get the chance one day to work alongside you. You are just amazing.” (The lad smartly responded, “the feeling’s mutual”.)

But she saved her strongest praise for McGregor.

“Ewan I’ve known you for years, you’re one of my favourite actors and I’ve always loved watching you. But I watched this and I didn’t recognise you.

“It’s strange to say it’s one of the best performances of the year - it really doesn’t give it credit, because it doesn’t feel like a performance. It comes from such an honest place, it was so deeply emotional, you rarely see this kind of emotion from a man on screen…As an actor I’m in awe.”

Jolie closed her remarks by saying: “The true testament of any film is what you walk away with, and with this film you walk away with more empathy, with a greater sense of connection to your fellow man, and you want to run home and hug your kids and tell them you love them. There is no greater message.”