The daughter of an Oscar-winner, she was destined for stardom. Despite acclaim for her acting, it's her bizarre private life that keeps her in the headlines. Vial of blood anyone?
birth place: Los Angeles, California, USA
Angelina Jolie Voight was born in Los Angeles, California. Her father Jon Voight was an established Hollywood actor, who had earned worldwide fame for his performances in Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance and Coming Home - the latter winning him an Oscar.
Angelina’s mother was the part-Iroquois, part-French actress and model Marcheline Bertrand, who now, incidentally, works as Angelina’s manager. Angelina’s parents split up before she was two years old, and her mother moved back to the East Coast with Angelina and her brother James, where they lived in the Palisades, in the state of New York.
Despite her parents’ divorce, Angelina remembers her childhood as being a happy one. She was a huge Star Trek fan, and showed her unusual tastes even at an early age, by having a crush on Mr Spock! Her taste in pets was highly original too, and she collected snakes and lizards. Her favourite snake was called Harry Dean Stanton, and her favourite lizard was called Vladimir.
At school, she joined a gang called the Kissy Girls, who hunted boys down and kissed them until they begged for mercy - until the school called a halt and the gang broke up! Money was tight whilst Angelina was growing up, but Marcheline made a point of taking her children to the movies as often as possible. Angelina claims that these family movie outings were what first inspired her to dream of becoming an actress.
When Angelina was 11, the family moved back to Los Angeles. Angelina decided to get serious about her dream of becoming an actress and enrolled for acting lessons at the prestigious drama academy, the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. But she didn’t enjoy her years at Beverly Hills High School, where she was constantly teased for wearing glasses and braces and for being so skinny. She also tried to get work as a model, but was turned down for being too short, too thin and too scarred. The teasing and rejection she experienced during her early teenage years had a disastrous effect on her sense of self-esteem, and at the age of 14, she dropped out of high school. She dyed her hair purple, moved in with her punk rocker boyfriend, adopted a Gothic dress code of black, black and more black - but more seriously, began to self-harm and cut herself. She even once asked her boyfriend to draw a blade along her jaw line - and still has a faint scar to mark the occasion.
At the age of 16, Angelina split up with her punk rocker boyfriend, and decided to revive her childhood dreams of becoming an actress. She moved into an apartment opposite her mother, and secured her first on-stage role, as a German S&M dominatrix! For the first time ever, she also began to make the peace with her father. She realised that when it came to acting, he had a great deal to teach her. With her braces and glasses gone, she even succeeded in landing work as a model, and even appeared in the video for Meat Loaf’s Rock’n’Roll Dreams Come Through. She also appeared in promo videos for Lenny Kravitz and the Rolling Stones.
Jolie’s brother James (who now called himself James Haven) had pursued his ambition of going to film school, and Angelina gained her first taste of screen acting by starring in no less than five of her brother’s student films. She made her movie debut proper in 1993, when she was offered a starring role as Casella “Cash” Reese, acting alongside Jack Palance in Cyborg 2. Angelina’s role capitalised on her screen charisma and brash, upfront sex appeal, and before long she was offered another plum role in Hackers, a sci-fi computer thriller. Whilst on set shooting Hackers, she met British actor Johnny Lee Miller, of Trainspotting fame, who played a computer wizard on the run from the police. Jolie and Miller worked closely together (she played a member of his team) and before long, the couple were announcing their engagement in the press.
The Hollywood gossip columnists ventured the opinion that Jolie’s marriage was all part of her quest to find some stability in her life, since she’d lacked a father figure whilst she was growing up. But she and Miller were an outlandish and unconventional couple, and Jolie wasted no time in telling the press all about their exploits - in bed and out of it! Her professional life began to blossom, and the offers to star in new films started flooding in. Jolie co-starred with David Duchovny of X-Files fame in the glitzy thriller, Playing God; this film also starred Timothy Hutton, whom she also dated some time later.
Then came a road movie called Mojave Moon, where she played a young girl called Eleanor Rigby, who falls in love with Danny Aiello - who happens to be in love with Eleanor’s mother (played by Anne Archer). Next came Foxfire, where she played a teenage girl who belonged to a gang who set out to kill a teacher who is bothering them at high school. By now, the major producers in Hollywood had begun to notice that Jolie was able to bring an impressive palette of emotions to her acting, and she began to be offered more complex and demanding parts.
In 1997, she played the role of George Wallace’s wife , in the biographical movie, George Wallace, which told the story of the segregationist Governor of Alabama who was shot and paralysed during his campaign to become President, a performance which achieved considerable critical acclaim. But whilst her career was going from strength to strength, her private life was starting to fall apart. Johnny Lee Miller was finding her emotional excesses harder and harder to deal with, especially whilst she was playing the lead role in Gia, a biopic about the life of Gia Carangi, a lesbian supermodel from the 1970s, who eventually died of AIDS. Jolie was awarded a Golden Globe for her performance in this movie - and to celebrate, she jumped into a swimming-pool whilst fully clothed, ruining her expensive designer ball gown. Eventually, Miller decided he couldn’t take any more, and the couple finally split.
In the wake of her marriage bust-up, rumours were flying about Jolie’s sexuality, and she fanned the flames by openly admitting that she was bisexual. She even confessed to having a relationship with the actress Jenny Shimizu. None of this distracted her from her work, however, and she was soon starring in a comedy drama about air traffic controllers, called Pushing Tin. Her co-stars were John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, and by the time the film wrapped shooting, she was already in love with Thornton, who was 15 years older than her. Once again, Jolie enjoyed an outrageous, high-profile romance, with Thornton openly admitting that he liked to wear Jolie’s underwear, because it made him feel closer to her!
Just as she found happiness in her private life, Jolie also struck gold in her career. She accepted the role of a mental asylum inmate in “Girl, Interrupted”, co-starring with Winona Ryder, and won an Oscar for her stellar performance. The Oscar ceremony was marred by rumours that she’d had an incestuous relationship with her own brother - which Jolie denied. She went on to tell the press that she’d only ever slept with a handful of people.
Next came Jolie’s first blockbuster role - Tomb Raider. This was probably her most challenging role to date, for she not only had to learn how to speak with an English, upper-class accent, but also had to master a wide range of physically demanding disciplines, including kick-boxing, street fighting, yoga, ballet, car-racing and dog-sledding. Her character Lara Croft was faced with the challenge of defeating the illuminati who were trying to use a magic triangle in order to control Time - and interestingly, the role of her English upper-class father was played by her real-life father, Jon Voight. Lara Croft marked Jolie’s real breakthrough as a big Hollywood name in her own right - even though she failed to win an Oscar on this occasion.
Having reached a peak in her career, Jolie then decided to pursue her humanitarian interests and began to become more and more involved in campaigns to help people in the Third World. In 2001, she adopted a Cambodian child named Maddox, and was made a Good Will Ambassador for the United States. She took her role very seriously indeed, and took time out from her acting career to visit Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Tanzania and the Western Sahara.
She began campaigning for peace in troubled Sri Lanka, got involved in helping refugees from Chechnia and Thailand, and donated $5 million to an environmental wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia. When she turned her attention back to her career, she was offered the chance to make Tomb Raider 2, for which she was paid a staggering $12 million.
Although she was flying high in her work, her private life was in trouble again, and Billy Bob Thornton left her in May 2002. She subsequently claimed he was far more interested in his career than he was in her and Maddox, whilst she was more keen to balance family life and her philanthropic interests with striving for box-office success. After filming Tomb Raider 2, Jolie bought herself a house in Buckinghamshire, and was occasionally be seen out on the town with her ex-husband Johnny Lee Miller.
She continued to give a considerable amount of time to the United Nations, as well as working hard at her career. After the highly successful Tomb Raider sequel, she accepted a part in Beyond Borders. Here she played the daughter of a wealthy businessman who meets a visionary doctor and travels with him to war-ravaged Africa to help save lives - it sounded very much like a case of Jolie’s art imitating her own life. Somehow, she even found the time to write a book, called Notes from My Travels, which was published in 2003.
In 2004, she starred in Taking Lives, where she played an intuitive detective, and co-starred with Ethan Hawke. Hawke’s marriage to Uma Thurman collapsed around the same time, and Jolie was blamed - but she denied the rumours, and was later proved right.
Jolie then took a voiceover role of a glamorous fish called Lola in Shark Tale, rapidly followed by the futuristic period piece, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where she played a sexy pilot captain. By coincidence, Jolie had recently gained her pilot’s license, although on this occasion, she didn’t fly the plane for real, but acted mostly against empty screens.
Sadly, Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow wasn’t a great box office hit - and nor was Alexander, Jolie’s next film. Here she played Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, who inspires him to become a great leader and empire builder. But the offers kept coming for Jolie to star in new pictures. After starring in The Fever, a political piece directed by Vanessa Redgrave’s son, Carlo Nero, she was offered the starring role in Mr and Mrs Smith, where she was cast opposite Brad Pitt.
They played a bored couple whose lacklustre marriage gets a shot in the arm when they discover that they are both secret assassins who have been hired to kill each other. Improbable though the plot sounded, the film was a massive hit - not least perhaps because romance had once again blossomed for Jolie during the shooting of the movie, and Brad Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston broke up around the same time.
Although rumours ran rife, Jolie and Pitt remained silent about their alleged affair, and did not go public about their involvement until a full twelve months later. By this time, Brad Pitt was fully embroiled in the full horror of a high-profile Hollywood divorce. Jolie denied Aniston’s claims that she was a marriage-wrecker, and told reporters “I was just a shoulder to cry on”.
Also during 2005, Jolie found time to get involved in Live8 and also visited post-earthquake Pakistan. She also adopted Zaharah Marley, a little Ethiopian girl as a sister for Maddox, and to her delight, Brad Pitt decided to adopt both children as his own. And in May 2006, Angelina also gave birth to her own child by Brad Pitt, Shiloh Nouvel, who was born in Namibia whilst the couple were over in Africa.
With Brad Pitt, Jolie has finally found a partner with whom she can share her humanitarian goals and ideals, as well as her dazzling Hollywood success. Whilst it’s certain that the twin challenges of her motherhood and her charity work will continue to take up much of Jolie’s time, the movie offers just keep coming. 2006 has seen the premiere of The Good Shepherd, directed by Robert de Niro, which tells the story of the history of the CIA through the eyes of a key operative (played by Matt Damon). But Jolie herself confesses: “It’s getting harder and harder to go back to work after time with children and my United Nations projects.”
In 2007, Jolie made her directorial debut with the documentary A Place in Time, which captures the life in 27 locations around the globe during a single week and features fellow actors such as Jude Law, Hilary Swank, Colin Farrell and Jonny Lee Miller. She also voiced the of part Grendel's mother in the animated adaptation of Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, directed by Robert Zemeckis.
An Oscar-winning actress, humanitarian ambassador, femme fatale, author, pilot and now mother, Jolie has proved herself brilliantly adept at juggling her many roles - and hopefully will continue to do, for many years to come.