Angelina Jolie is one of the most fascinating actresses in Hollywood today, both on and off the screen. Once known for quirks such as her knife collection and assortment of tattoos, her image has progressed from edgy young actress to entertainment royalty. Jolie's talent has led her from playing everything from a drug-addled supermodel to an undercover agent. A large part of her appeal, undeniably, is her beauty. Mim Udovitch in Rolling Stone noted, "Angelina is exceptionally beautiful, even among the professionally good-looking." Before turning 25, she had chalked up several awards, including an Oscar and appeared in films such as Girl, Interrupted (1999), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and Alexander (2004). In 2005 Jolie was splashed across papers everywhere again after she was seen in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith alongside heartthrob Brad Pitt, with whom Jolie began a relationship. In addition to acting, Jolie is also known for her humanitarian efforts. Pitt and Jolie married in August of 2014. Together, they have six children, three of whom are adopted. Jolie is also a director, known for her films In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) and Unbroken (2014). Her next film, By the Sea, is set to debut in November 2015.
Angelina Jolie was born Angelina Jolie Voigt on June 4, 1975, the daughter of American actor Jon Voigt and French actress Marcheline Bertrand. Though they divorced when their daughter was a year old and their son was only three, they continued to maintain a close relationship. Jolie noted to Louis B. Hobson in the Calgary Sun, "My mother was 20 when she married my dad. By the time she was 25, she was divorced with two small children. She was a promising actress who gave up her career to raise me and my brother." Of course, her father would go on to win acclaim for his role as Joe Buck, the would-be gigolo in 1969's Midnight Cowboy, and grab a best actor Oscar for 1978's Coming Home.
After her parents split up, Jolie and her brother were raised in and near New York City by their mother. (Both of them were given middle names that they could use as stage names later; her older brother, James Haven whom she calls Jamie is an actor.) Not surprisingly, given her parents' background, Jolie began studying acting as a child. When Jolie was 11, the family returned to California, where she attended Beverly Hills High. At age 12, though, Jolie went to the Lee Strasberg Institute and began performing, though she took time out for a while to have "some regular teen-age years," as she commented to Elizabeth Snead in USA Today. At about age 15, she landed her first major role, playing a character that was originally written to be male: Mr. Wagner in the play Room Service. Her take on the part was to turn him into Frau Wagner, a German dominatrix.
Following in Her Dad's Footsteps
By age 16, Jolie was firmly devoted to acting, and moved into her own apartment and began to study drama. When she went on auditions, she did not reveal her lineage so that she could prove herself on her own terms. Her first big role was starring in Hackers, 1995, a thriller about computer geeks. The next year, Jolie played an androgynous tough teenager in Foxfire, an adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates novel. In 1997, she was hailed for her performance as Cornelia, the second wife of George Wallace (played by Gary Sinise) in the TNT miniseries about the four-term Alabama governor. She won a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress for her role. Also in 1997 she steamed up the big screen with David Duchovny in Playing God.
At age 20, Jolie was married to actor Jonny Lee Miller, with whom she costarred in Hackers. They filed for divorce 19 months later, though they remained close. On their wedding day, she wore black rubber pants and a white T-shirt with his name written on it in blood. Jolie's fascination with knives became a staple of any profile of her; she has mentioned that it stems from an attraction to medieval history stemming from Renaissance fairs. She also made no secret of her passion for eating red meat. Summing up herself to Udovitch in Rolling Stone, Jolie explained, "People do always think that because I have tattoos, I'm bad, or that there's something very dark about me, or that I think about death. And I'm probably the least morbid person. I've kind of discovered that if I think about death much more than some people have, it's because I love life more than those people." Elaborating to Andrew Essex in Entertainment Weekly, she stated, "I read things I've said and don't realize I'm being a `bad' girl. I do like being sexual, I do collect knives, I do like tattoos. I like dark things. But there's a side of me that's soft. I love my family; I want to be a mother." She concluded, "Don't pin me down to one thing."
Jolie's breakthrough role was her turn in the 1998 HBO movie Gia, based on the true story about lesbian, heroin-addict supermodel Gia Carangi, who died of AIDS at age 26. "I didn't know if I was strong enough to confront the parts of her story that were close to mine," Jolie told Ileane Rudolph in TV Guide, referring to her wild stage of drug experimentation in her teens. For the role, she did nude love scenes with another female actor, Elizabeth Mitchell. That was the easy part, though, as Jolie has openly expressed an attraction to women. What was more difficult was being made up to look like she was dying. She shaved her head, and the makeup artists would paint lesions on her skin to resemble Kaposi's sarcoma, a skin cancer common in AIDS patients. Her outstanding presence in Gia brought Jolie a Golden Globe Award, a Los Angeles Outfest grand jury award, and a Screen Actors Guild award.
After shooting Gia, she was cast as a gang member's girlfriend in the gritty crime picture Hell's Kitchen and costarred with Gillian Anderson in the romantic drama Playing by Heart, in which she played a brash young actor with a vulnerable underside. Meanwhile, she began studying film at New York University. In 1999 Jolie appeared in the dark comedy Pushing Tin, playing the sultry wife of Billy Bob Thornton's character, an air traffic controller competing with a colleague (John Cusack) in the high-stress world of the New York-Newark airspace. Jolie later married Thornton in 2000, though the union lasted only two years. Also in 1999, Jolie became a bona fide star when she was billed above the title with Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector. In this thriller about the search for a serial killer, she portrayed a young cop, Amelia Donaghy, who did the leg work at gruesome crime scenes and communicated her findings to a bedridden forensics expert played by Washington.
At the end of December of 1999, the film Girl, Interrupted opened in some cities, starring Jolie and Winona Ryder. The movie centered on a young woman (Ryder) who checked herself into a mental institution and could not get out. The film came out just in time to for the year's Academy Award ceremonies. Jolie snagged a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar for best supporting actress for the role.
From Actress to Goodwill Ambassador
Jolie used the fame she garnered early on to do good around the world. She was invited to be a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations and has pretty much traveled consistently since then, doing what she could to raise awareness of problems around the world. She was in Cambodia filming the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider when she became aware of the problems with mines in the area. She fell in love with the people and adopted a boy, Maddox, from the country. Not wanting her son to grow up not knowing his homeland, she bought a house in Cambodia and became a citizen of the country.
Jolie Makes Headlines for Personal Life
In October of 2004, Esquire magazine named Jolie the "Sexiest Woman Alive." And the following month she was seen in the heroic epic Alexander alongside Colin Farrell, playing Alexander's mother. Jolie was next seen in 2005's Mr. and Mrs. Smith alongside Brad Pitt. People magazine said of the movie, "The onscreen chemistry between Pitt and Jolie is potent and their performances appealing." The year was a big one on the personal front as well. In July of 2005, she adopted an infant girl from Ethiopia named Zahara. She also began dating fellow actor Pitt after his infamous split from America's sweetheart Jennifer Aniston. The press went wild at the relationship, accusing Jolie of stealing Pitt away from his wife, but Jolie stated that the relationship had ended before anything happened between the two.
Jolie gave birth to her first child with Pitt, a daughter named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, in May of 2006 in Namibia. That fall, they traveled to India to film A Mighty Heart, produced by Pitt, in which Jolie played Mariane Pearl, wife of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist kidnapped and slain in Pakistan. As 2006 ended, Jolie was appearing in movie theaters as the wife of a CIA agent in The Good Shepherd.
While The Good Shepherd did not do well at the box office, Jolie received more acclaim for her work in A Mighty Heart after its release in 2007. The adaptation of Beowulf was also released that year. She was in three films in 2008: Wanted, Changeling, and Kung Fu Panda,--a voiceover role. Jolie's non-acting activities, however, grabbed more headlines than her professional career. Jolie continued to add to her ever-expanding family by adopting a son, Pax Thien, from Vietnam. In July of 2008, she and Pitt welcomed the birth of twins, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline, swelling their family to eight.
Jolie appeared in Salt in 2010 as a double agent. The same year, she costarred with Johnny Depp in The Tourist. Neither film received favorable reviews. She reprised her voice role for Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011. Also that year, Jolie made her directorial debut with the film In the Land of Blood and Honey, which was set during the Bosnian War. While Jolie was not in any films in 2012, she made headlines when she and Pitt announced they were engaged to be married.
On May 14, 2013, Jolie published an op-ed piece in the New York Times revealing she had recently chosen to have a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie made her decision based on a family history of breast cancer and genetic testing that confirms she carries the BRCA1 gene, a gene that sharply raises a woman's risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Jolie emphasized her decision was not easy, but she was committed to taking control of her health and being healthy for her children's sake. Jolie's article helped raise awareness of genetic testing for breast cancer; she noted that not all women can afford to be screened. After she had fully recovered, Jolie went on to star in the Disney film Maleficent. Jolie and Pitt were married in August of 2014.
In December 2014, Jolie's film Unbroken debuted in theaters. The film was based on the 2010 book of the same name by author Laura Hillenbrand, and tells the life story of former Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. In his late 90s and in declining health, Zamperini happened to live in the same Los Angeles neighborhood as Jolie, and the two became friends. Jolie was able to show a rough version of the film to Zamperini, who died in July 2014.
Jolie announced her next directorial project, By the Sea which would star her and Pitt. The film was set to premier in November 2015. The actress was also rumored to star in Disney's planned sequel to the hit Maleficent.
Born Angelina Jolie Voigt, June 4, 1975, in Los Angeles, CA; daughter of Jon Voigt (an actor) and Marcheline Bertrand (an actor); married Jonny Lee Miller (an actor), c. 1995 (divorced, c. 1997); married Billy Bob Thornton (an actor), May 5, 2000 (divorced, May 27, 2003); children: Maddox (adopted), Zahara (adopted), Pax (adopted); and Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne (with Pitt). Education: Attended New York University.
actress, 1982- goodwill ambassador, UNHCR, 2001-2012; United Nations Special Envoy, 2012-.
Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress in a series, miniseries or motion picture, 1998, for George Wallace; Golden Globe Award for best actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television for Gia, 1999; Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a TV movie or miniseries for Gia, 2000; Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress for Girl, Interrupted, 2000; Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for Girl, Interrupted, 2000; People's Choice Award for favorite female action star, 2009; Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 2014.
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