Angelina Jolie has said the US must "lead the way" against torture in its policies.
"Any country in a leading democracy must set an example," she said.
It comes after a report last week revealed the "brutal" treatment of terror suspects by the CIA in its post-9/11 interrogation program.
Jolie's latest film, Unbroken, tells of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini who was held as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War Two.
"There are reasons why we have laws against torture. There are reasons why we have Geneva Conventions and we must follow them," the actress and director told BBC Arabic.
"We can't expect to break certain rules and behave in a certain manner and [believe] that won't affect the way other people behave and won't encourage how other people behave.
"So if we are to be who we represent ourselves to be as Americans and as a democracy, we have to lead the way and handle ourselves in a manner which is respectful to other human beings."
She added: "We must hold ourselves accountable for what we do and how we behave - we have to be leaders in this world and we have to do the right things and make the right choices.
"If we want everyone to behave in a certain manner we must lead the way."
The actress became a UN goodwill ambassador in 2001, and has met many displaced refugees in Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan during her field missions.
In 2012 she was made a special envoy, representing the UN at a diplomatic level focusing on large-scale crises resulting in the mass displacement of people.
The US Senate Intelligence Committee's report revealed details of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" on terror suspects.
It also found the CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for "serious and significant violations" and "inappropriate activities".
When President Obama first took office in 2009, he ordered an end to the techniques and set up a new executive order to ensure lawful interrogations.
In an interview last week, the president said it was impossible to imagine the pressures after 9/11 but it did not "excuse all of us from looking squarely at what happened and make sure that it doesn't happen again".