Award winning actress
When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers I kind of wanted to be a vampire.
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?
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, incidentally, worked 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 while 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 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 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 in the role of Casella 'Cash' Reese 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. While 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'.
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 in turn 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 while 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 while 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 circulating 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. 'Tomb Raider' 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 developing 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 Chechnya 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, while she was keen to balance family life and her philanthropic interests with box-office success. After filming Tomb Raider 2, Jolie bought herself a house in Buckinghamshire and was occasionally 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, co-starring 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 licence, although on this occasion, she didn't fly the plane for real, but acted mostly against green screen.
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 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 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 visited post-earthquake Pakistan. She 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 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. While 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 saw 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 confessed: '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.
Jolie has not let her busy career hold back her plans for an expanding brood, and on 15 March 2007, she adopted Pax Thien from Vietnam, who was three years old at the time.
In May 2008, Jolie announced that she was once again pregnant with twins, and her and Brad Pitt's children, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline, were born by caesarean section in Nice, France, on 12 July 2008.
On 14 April 2012, it was announced that Jolie and Pitt had become engaged after seven years together. They were married in 2014 in France, despite the couple once stating that they would not marry until same-sex marriage was legalised in every US state. Her diamond engagement ring was designed by jeweller Roger Procop with the help of Pitt.
Her role in Clint Eastwood's drama 'Changeling', based on real-life events, which premiered at Cannes in 2008, earned the 35-year-old her second Academy Award nomination.
The film also saw her nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of Christine Collins, a woman who is reunited with a boy who is said to be her son, but who is in fact a stranger.
She took a two year break from filming after 'Changeling', only to return in 2010's 'Salt', a thriller in which she starred alongside Liev Schreiber.
Despite receiving mainly negative reviews, Jolie's next film, 'The Tourist', saw her being nominated once again for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. It seems even when she is attached to a box-office flop, she emerges smelling of roses.
In 2011, she went behind the cameras again to direct 'In The Land Of Blood and Honey', which tells the story of a Bosnian soldier who encounters a former lover in a camp he now oversees. It caused some controversy among those who had lived through the war but Jolie's skills were praised by the critics. The same year she returned to 'Kung Fu Panda' and voiced Tigress in 'Kung Fu Panda 2', and again in 2016's 'Kung Fu Panda 3'.
In 2014 Jolie-Pitt starred in 'Maleficent', which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of her evil nemesis Maleficent. In the same year she directed the film 'Unbroken', about the life of Louis "Louie" Zamperini – an American prisoner of war during WWII. She again sat in the director's chair for the 2015 romantic film 'By the Sea', the first film starring Pitt and Jolie together since 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith'.
In recent years, Jolie-Pitt has undergone several treatments to lessen her risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. Her mother had suffered from breast cancer and both her mother and grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. After discovering she had the defective BRCA1 gene, giving her an over 80% chance of getting breast cancer, Jolie had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. Two years later she had her ovaries removed, another preventative surgery which led to her enter menopause.
She has been praised for speaking openly about her experience and procedures. After going public with her story, she wrote in the New York Times: "I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
Jolie filed from divorce from Pitt in September 2016.