Saturday, March 1, 2008
Angelina Jolie Biography
Next to Liv Tyler, Angelina Jolie is the only actress of her generation who can thank her famous father for the lips that have become her trademark. The actress was born Angelina Jolie Voight to the pillow-lipped Jon Voight and actress Marcheline Bertrand on June 4, 1975, in Los Angeles.
Raised mostly by her mother after her parents divorced while she was still a baby, Jolie moved around a lot with her mother and brother. She also did a fair amount of traveling as a professional model, living in such places as London, New York, and Los Angeles before settling for a time in New York as a student at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and New York University, where she first started acting in theater productions. The fledgling actress soon moved on to film with a small role in 1993's Cyborg 2, followed in 1995 by her turn as a computer hacker in the more widely seen Hackers. The film gave her her first taste of recognition, as well as an introduction to Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller, to whom she was married for a short time.
After appearing in a number of mediocre films, Jolie finally hit it big in 1997 with her Golden Globe-winning performance as George Wallace's wife in the highly acclaimed TV movie George Wallace. The role, coupled with her Emmy-nominated performance in the title role of HBO's Gia, provided Jolie with a new level of professional respect and recognition. She was soon appearing on talk shows and in magazines, answering questions about everything from her multiple tattoos to her famous father to her brief marriage.
She was also netting roles in high-profile projects: In 1998 Jolie headlined an ensemble cast that included Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Anthony Edwards, Gillian Anderson, Ryan Phillippe, and Madeline Stowe in Playing By Heart. The following year, she was part of another high-voltage cast in Mike Newell's Pushing Tin, co-starring alongside John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett. Although the film was neither a critical nor a financial success, it did little to diminish the rapid ascent of the career of the actress, who was in hot demand for projects that would further elevate her already rising star. In 2000, Jolie's star received one of its greatest boosts to date when the actress won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a volatile mental patient in Girl, Interrupted. Later that year, her personal life also got a boost in the form of her April marriage to Billy Bob Thornton.
Onscreen, Jolie was hard to miss in 2000. She starred in a number of films, including the crime thriller Gone in Sixty Seconds, in which she co-starred as a car thief alongside Nicolas Cage, and Original Sin, a thriller that featured her as the bad-seed bride of a Cuban tycoon (Antonio Banderas). If she was hard to miss in 2000, Jolie was impossible to escape in 2001 with her turn as shapely video-game adventuress Lara Croft in the long anticipated film adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider video-game franchise. Carrying on the tradition of video-game movies that are light on plot but heavy on the action, Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life (2003) scored with summer audiences and quickly shot to number one at the box office despite disparaging reviews citing an incoherent story line, unlike Life or Something Like It, the 2002 romantic comedy-drama that critics and audiences alike would rather not have seen.
On July 18th, 2002, Jolie filed for divorce from Thornton, claiming that their priorities no longer meshed after having adopted a Cambodian son, Maddox. Though the famously quirky couple were no longer, Angelina's film schedule remained hectic. In 2003 she would play a rich-girl-turned-humanitarian in Beyond Borders, while 2004 saw a host of parts for Jolie, including a role in Oliver Stone's Alexander, an epic biography of Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell, as well as a turn alongside fellow Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and a role as a tough FBI agent in the thriller Taking Lives. Finally, Jolie closed out the year by lending her voice to Dreamworks' animated kid-flick Shark's Tale.
While the Jolie-starring Mr. and Mrs. Smith proved one of Summer 2005's biggest money-makers, the actress's name fell on the lips of gossip-mongers for most of the year not for the film itself, but rather for Jolie's relationship with costar Brad Pitt. Though the couple long shirked and denied rumors of an affair, the paparazzi regularly caught them together in public, and
Pitt eventually filed for divorce from wife Jennifer Aniston. Subsequently, they not only conceived a child in fall 2005 (whom they named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt), but became foster parents to two adopted children, Maddox and an Ethiopian girl, Zahara Marley. Jolie delivered Shiloh in Namibia, via caesarian section, as May 2006 wrapped, and the couple flew an ob-gyn in from Los Angeles to assist with the birth.
By mid-2006, Jolie - as an actress, personality, and sex symbol - claimed an almost matchless status in Hollywood popularity, rivaled only by Jennifer Aniston, ironically. That year saw Jolie claim a supporting role in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd, and announce her forthcoming role in Beowulf. ~ Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide.
Staying to Help in Iraq
We have finally reached a point where humanitarian assistance, from us and others, can have an impact.
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By Angelina Jolie
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 1:15 PM
The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home."
But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.
In the six months since my previous visit to Iraq with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this humanitarian crisis has not improved. However, during the last week, the United States, UNHCR and the Iraqi government have begun to work together in new and important ways.
We still don't know exactly how many Iraqis have fled their homes, where they've all gone, or how they're managing to survive. Here is what we do know: More than 2 million people are refugees inside their own country -- without homes, jobs and, to a terrible degree, without medicine, food or clean water. Ethnic cleansing and other acts of unspeakable violence have driven them into a vast and very dangerous no-man's land. Many of the survivors huddle in mosques, in abandoned buildings with no electricity, in tents or in one-room huts made of straw and mud. Fifty-eight percent of these internally displaced people are younger than 12 years old.
An additional 2.5 million Iraqis have sought refuge outside Iraq, mainly in Syria and Jordan. But those host countries have reached their limits. Overwhelmed by the refugees they already have, these countries have essentially closed their borders until the international community provides support.
I'm not a security expert, but it doesn't take one to see that Syria and Jordan are carrying an unsustainable burden. They have been excellent hosts, but we can't expect them to care for millions of poor Iraqis indefinitely and without assistance from the U.S. or others. One-sixth of Jordan's population today is Iraqi refugees. The large burden is already causing tension internally.
The Iraqi families I've met on my trips to the region are proud and resilient. They don't want anything from us other than the chance to return to their homes -- or, where those homes have been bombed to the ground or occupied by squatters, to build new ones and get back to their lives. One thing is certain: It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people. But it is not too early to start working on solutions. And last week, there were signs of progress.
In Baghdad, I spoke with Army Gen. David Petraeus about UNHCR's need for security information and protection for its staff as they re-enter Iraq, and I am pleased that he has offered that support. General Petraeus also told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis "to the maximum extent possible" -- which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made.
UNHCR is certainly committed to that. Last week while in Iraq, High Commissioner António Guterres pledged to increase UNHCR's presence there and to work closely with the Iraqi government, both in assessing the conditions required for return and in providing humanitarian relief.
During my trip I also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has announced the creation of a new committee to oversee issues related to internally displaced people, and a pledge of $40 million to support the effort.
My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis.
Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?
What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.
As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.
It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.
Angelina Jolie, an actor, is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador.