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Born Angelina Jolie Voight in Los Angeles, on June 4th, 1975 - her name meaning Pretty Little Angel. Her father, Jon, was already an established superstar, having topped the bill in such classics as Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance. When Angelina was 2, he'd scoop the Best Actor Oscar for Coming Home. By then though, he'd already split from her mother, the part-Iroquois actress and model Marcheline Bertrand (now Angelina's manager), who'd moved with Angelina and her brother James to the East Coast - to the Palisades, New York, to be more precise.
Living here, Angelina Jolie was a happy child. She collected snakes and lizards - her favourite lizard being named Vladimir, and her favourite snake Harry Dean Stanton - and, oddly, like many females of her age, she had a major crush on Mr Spock. She would wear glittery clothing, including sparkly underwear, and flounce around, already performing, keen to make people laugh, to make them like her.
Jolie had appeared in five of her brother's student films, made while he attended the USC School of Cinema (he was now known as James Haven), but her movie career proper began in 1993, when she starred as Casella "Cash" Reese, alongside Elias Koteas and Jack Palance in Cyborg 2. Here, a near-human robot-thing, she was designed to seduce her way into the HQ of her creators' rivals and blow up. Already, her sexual charisma had been noted. Next came Hackers, where she met her first husband, Jonny Lee Miller, then riding high after his performance as Sick Boy in Trainspotting. Miller played a computer whizz-kid on the wrong side of the law, trying to save the world from a swine intent upon unleashing a vicious virus, while being pursued by the Secret Service. Jolie was Acid Burn, one of his team.
Now the roles started coming fast and thick. Jolie starred with David Duchovny in the nasty, stylish thriller Playing God (she'd later date her other co-star, Timothy Hutton). Then, in the road-movie Mojave Moon, she was a youngster, named Eleanor Rigby, who falls for Danny Aiello, while he takes a shine to her mother, Anne Archer. In Foxfire, she was one of a group of teenage girls who kill a teacher who harasses them, then gradually go wholly out-of-control. Directed by Annette Haywood-Carter, this was very much a girl-thing, as was Jolie's next release, the TV movie True Women, a Herstorical romantic drama set in the West, based on the book by Janice Woods Windle.
As a child, Jolie had always been encouraged to express her feelings, and now it really began to work for her. In biopic George Wallace, she played the wife of the segregationist Governor of Alabama who was shot and paralysed while running for President. This starred Gary Sinise and was directed by John Frankenheimer, but she more than held her own, picking up a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. Next came Gia, another biopic, this time of Gia Carangi, a lesbian supermodel from the Seventies. This was crammed with sex, drugs and fearsome emotional drama, as Carangi crashed, burned and was eventually taken by AIDS. For the second consecutive year, Jolie won a Golden Globe, and was nominated for an Emmy. At the Golden Globes, by way of celebration, she jumped into a swimming-pool, clad in a hand-beaded Randolph Duke gown.
Now came the comedy-drama Pushing Tin, about two air traffic controllers who engage in macho conflict. John Cusack was one, the other was Billy Bob Thornton, acclaimed director, writer and star of Sling Blade. Angelina Jolie played Thornton's wife, an extremely sexy sort who sends the guys crazy and sleeps with Cusack. The film was excellent. More importantly for Jolie, she fell for Thornton, 15 years her senior, who proceeded to dump his longtime girlfriend Laura Dern. The pair became infamous for their salacious quotes, Thornton admitting that he liked to wear Jolie's underwear, even to work, as it made him feel close to her. Actually, their quotes were often rude, but clearly loving.
Jolie was about to become a huge star. Winona Ryder has claimed that her character in Girl, Interrupted could have been her as a young girl. But Jolie's character, Lisa Rowe - insanely ebullient then horribly depressed, hating but needing some form of structure to her life, even an institution - really WAS Jolie. Stealing the show entirely, she won the Oscar, and herein lies a sweet tale. At the time filming Original Sin down in Mexico, Jolie flew to the Oscar ceremony (she'd attended before, age 12 and all glammed up in lace and pearls, with her dad), won, then flew straight back, arriving at 4.30 am and going straight to sleep. Suddenly, she was awoken by a mariachi band, hired by co-star Antonio Banderas and director Michael Cristofer. Stumbling from her trailer, she was handed a single rose by every member of the crew, many of whom, along with Cristofer, had worked on Gia and, remembering her at her lowest ebb, wished to recognise this moment of triumph. In the press, meanwhile, her victory was quickly overshadowed by freakish reports that she was having an affair with her own brother. They must have assumed she'd try anything once. This is a big part of the Jolie phenomenon - she has a searing reputation for being sexually voracious and promiscuous, yet says she's slept with only a tiny handful of people.
Next would come the big one - Tomb Raider. To play videogame heroine Lara Croft, Jolie had to master a Brit accent and upper-class manners, plus kick-boxing, street-fighting, yoga, ballet, car racing and dog-sledding. Few actresses have the outlandish features and sheer physical power to pull off such a character, but Jolie managed it with some aplomb as Croft criss-crossed the globe, trying to prevent the Illuminati from using a magic triangle to control Time Itself. She would revisit the part in 2003 with the superior Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life. Here a Chinese crime boss and evil mastermind would attempt to unleash a deadly plague that, for some reason, chose to remain in Pandora's Box when all the other bad stuff sprang forth. Naturally, only Lady Lara Croft (in the original her aristocratic dad was played by Jon Voight) can save the day. Once again, Jolie impressed with her straight face, dry wit and comically unbreakable British resolve - she certainly gained more prestige than she would have done had she instead taken the role in Charlie's Angels eventually filled by Lucy Liu.
Before the sequel, though, would come Life Or Something Like It where she played a Seattle TV reporter seemingly ambitious beyond her abilities. Stuck in a love triangle with a baseball pitcher and a cameraman, she's informed of her own imminent death by a street preacher and must get her life in order before popping her clogs. It doesn't sound good and it wasn't, Jolie hardly being tested by such weak material.
Personally speaking, this was a hard time for Angelina. Having in 2001 adopted a Cambodian boy named Maddox, and having made clear her sympathy for nations much poorer than her own, she was made a Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations. It was a role she took seriously, visiting Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan and the Western Sahara. She examined first-hand the plight of refugees from Thailand and Chechnia, called for peace in Sri Lanka and pledged $5 million to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia (having been paid $12 million for Tomb Raider 2, this was something she could well afford).
Unfortunately, her relationship with Thornton did not survive this burst of activity. He, she later claimed, was more interested in his career (he was at the time concentrating on his music) and left her and Maddox to go out on tour. The couple would officially split up in May 2002 and divorce a year later, after almost exactly three years of marriage. And the split would bring about another when father Jon Voight used TV interviews to reach out to a daughter he said had "serious mental problems". Angelina did not appreciate his words or tactics.
2004 would bring a welter of work and another tumult of rumours. Onscreen, she'd open the year with Taking Lives, playing an intuitive American detective called up to help Montreal cops track down a serial killer. Through a strange and near-psychic process (as well as dogged police work), she reveals that the murderer, a major self-loather, has been offing people of gradually increasing age, stealing their identities and thereby living a series of different lives. Artist Ethan Hawke is able to sketch the killer, but will that do any good? The movie was quite complex, full of clues, shocks and sly cheats, but it was rather overshadowed by the break-up of Hawke's marriage to Uma Thurman. Naturally, rumours abounded that Jolie was the scarlet woman - in fact, it was model Jen Perzow.
Next came Shark Tale, an animation where Will Smith's funky fish took credit for the accidental death of the son of shark mobster Robert De Niro. Now famous, Smith would attract the amorous, glamorous Angelina (a fish called Lola, of course) who'd tempt him to betray his long-time gal Rene Zellweger. Critics would complain that the film's welter of references to the likes of Jaws and The Godfather would put it beyond the ken of most kids. Nevertheless, without challenging the monolithic success of Shrek, it was still a big hit.
Generally slating the movie, the critics paid special attention to the eastern European accent Angelina adopted. Fans would say this was a tad unfair - after all, Macedonia borders on Bulgaria which, like Russia, touches the Black Sea. She wasn't THAT far off. But her career did not suffer. In fact, she moved on to another major release, 2005's Mr And Mrs Smith, where she and Brad Pitt starred as a bored couple whose marriage is both stimulated and endangered when they discover they're both secret assassins, now unfortunately hired to kill one another. Even before its release the film would cause something of a stir. Firstly, extra shoots meant that Angelina Jolie could not carry the Olympic torch through Athens - her work for the United Nations High Commission For Refugees was to have seen her represent the world's refugees. And there were the inevitable rumours of sexual misbehaviour. With Pitt and Jennifer Aniston the world's most famous couple and Jolie Hollywood's most notorious femme fatale, the tabloids, understandably, went bananas
Label: Angelina Jolie