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Angelina Jolie - Goddesses of the Silver Screen
348    Dibyendu Banerjee    25/02/2024

Known for her seductive appeal and edginess as well as for her humanitarian work American actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie Voight was born on 4 June 1975 at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. Following her separation in 1976, Marcheline Bertrand abandoned her acting ambitions to focus on raising her children and moved to New York in 1981 with her children and her live-in partner, filmmaker Bill Day, but returned to Los Angeles five years later. As a child, Angelina often watched films with her mother, which was a significant influence on her early life and inspired her interest in acting.

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At the age of eleven, she was enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute for two years and performed in several theatre productions. After that, she attended Beverly Hills High School, the only major public high school in the area, where she was teased by other students, who targeted her for being extremely thin and wearing glasses and braces. She was also having some sort of inferiority complex and felt isolated among the children of some of the affluent families of the area, as her mother had a modest income. After that, Angelina was transferred to Moreno High School, but suffered from depression and periods of self-harm, engaging in knife play with her live-in boyfriend However, after the relationship had ended, Jolie graduated from high school at the age of 16 and rented her own apartment before returning to theatre studies. She studied drama at New York University and in addition to acting in theatre productions, also modelled and appeared in music videos.

angelina jolie

However, although Jolie committed to acting professionally at the age of 16 and appeared in several music videos between 1991 and 1993, her acting career never really took off in her teens because her demeanour was often considered too dark and Punk. Nevertheless, in 1993, she appeared on the cover of Everyday, the third studio album by Widespread Panic, an American rock band from Athens, Georgia and in the same year, began her professional film career, when she played her first leading role, a near-human robot designed for corporate espionage and assassination, in the low-budget film Cyborg (1993), which proved to be a commercial failure.

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However, following a supporting role in the independent film Without Evidence (1995), she starred in her first major studio film and appeared as a teenage hacker in the science fiction thriller, Hackers (1995), which despite failed to make a profit at the box office, developed a cult following after its video release and proved to be Jolie’s breakthrough.

angelina jolie
Jolie aged around 14

In the next year, Jolie starred in Playing God (1997), a thriller set in the Los Angeles underworld, in which she played the role of Claire and also appeared as a frontierswoman in CBS Mini Series True Women (1997), none of which were well received by the critics. But prospects of her career improved, as she garnered much attention for portraying the role of Cornelia, the second wife of segregationist Governor and presidential candidate in the television movie named after him, George Wallace (1997), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series and also received a nomination for an Emmy Award Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

angelina jolie

Angelina Jolie in Gia (1998)

However, Angelina Jolie made her breakthrough the following year in the HBO television film Gia (1998), portraying the title role of the supermodel Gia Carangi, her struggle with drug addiction and premature death from AIDS in the mid-1980s. She was profusely acclaimed for her stunning performance in the film and earned multiple honours, which include a Golden Globe Award for the second consecutive year, her first Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Satellite Award and was also nominated for an Emmy Award.

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However, in accordance with method acting, Jolie preferred to stay in character and took on similar characteristics to the role she was playing during many of her early films and As a result, during the filming of Gia, she became difficult to deal with, because like Gia, she had her own struggles with depression. Even, she told her husband that she would not be able to phone him or see him for weeks, as she is alone, she is dying and she is gay. After completion of the film, she briefly gave up acting, because she felt that she had nothing else to give, left her husband and moved to New York, where she studied directing and screenwriting, attending night classes at New York University. However, earning a Golden Globe Award for George Wallace and critical appreciation for her performance in Gia finally encouraged her to resume her career.

angelina jolie
Angelina in Girl Interrupted (1999)

In 1999, following her appearance as Mary Bell in the comedy-drama Pushing Tin (1999), Jolie starred alongside Denzel Washington in the commercially successful, but critically unsuccessful film The Bone Collector (1999), playing the role of Amelia Donaghy, a rather-unwilling police officer who reluctantly helps Washington's quadriplegic detective track down a serial killer. Also in that year, she played the supporting role of Lisa, a patient of antisocial personality disorder in a psychiatric hospital in Girl Interrupted (1999) and won her the triple crown of Golden Globe Award, second Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role, along with many more.

angelina jolie

After her Oscar-winning performance in Girl Interrupted, Jolie appeared in a minor role as the mechanic ex-girlfriend of a car thief played by Nicolas Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), which turned out to be her first summer blockbuster, earning $237.2 million internationally. However, she achieved worldwide recognition for the title role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), an action film based on the Tomb Raider video game series, for which she had to adopt a British accent and mastered street fighting and kickboxing. Despite negative reviews, Jolie was generally praised for her physical performance, while the film, an international hit, launched her global reputation as a female action star.

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In Original Sin

Jolie next starred opposite Antonio Banderas as his mail-order bride in the erotic thriller Original Sin (2001), followed by the romantic comedy Life or Something Like It (2002), none of which were received well by critics and audiences. However, despite her lack of box office success, Jolie remained in demand as an actress and reprised the role of Lara Croft in the sequel Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (2003), earning $156.5 million at the international box office. Her next film Beyond Borders (2003), in which she portrayed a socialite who joins an aid worker played by Clive Owen, was also a critical failure and unsuccessful with audiences.

angelina jolie
In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

After that, Angelina appeared as Illeana Scott, an FBI profiler in the thriller Taking Lives (2004) and also made a brief appearance as a fighter pilot in a science fiction adventure, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), before portraying the supporting role of Queen Olympias in Oliver Stone’s Alexander (2004), an epic historical drama film based on the life of Alexander the Great, which was met with mixed reception, particularly concerning her Slavic accent. However, Jolie returned to major box office success with the action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), opposite Brad Pitt as a bored married couple who find out that they are both secret assassins. Although the film received mixed reviews, it was generally lauded for the chemistry between the two leads and proved to be the seventh-highest grossing picture of the year.

angelina jolie
With Archie Panjabi in A Mighty Heart (2007)

Next year, following a supporting role of Margaret, the neglected and aggrieved wife of a CIA officer in Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006), Jolie appeared as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart (2007), which chronicles her efforts to rescue her husband, Daniel, who was kidnapped and later murdered by Islamic extremists while reporting in Pakistan for The Wall Street Journal. While the film was critically and commercially well-received, Jolie earned critical acclaim, along with nominations for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for her performance. In the same year, Jolie played the role of Grendel's mother in the critically and commercially well-received American animated fantasy action film Beowulf (2007) and then starred in the action thriller Wanted (2008), which proved a worldwide success. Jolie next portrayed the lead role of Christine Collins, the role of a mother whose son is kidnapped and later replaced by a different child, in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008), which earned her another Oscar nomination. Her subsequent films include, among others, the action thriller Salt (2010), The Tourist (2010), for which she earned a nomination for a Golden Globe, and the fantasy film Come Away (2020).

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With the kid in Changeling (2008)

While filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in location, Jolie first witnessed the effects of a humanitarian crisis in war-torn Cambodia and consequently, became an active participant in her role as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After that, she began visiting refugee camps around the world and travelled extensively in Darfur, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, met Afghan refugees in Pakistan, where she donated $1 million in response to an international UNHCR emergency appeal. She was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on 27 August 2001 and was appointed Special Envoy to High Commissioner Antonia Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, in 2012.

angelina jolie

In her personal life, Jolie had a serious boyfriend for two years from the age of 14, while at Moreno High School. Her mother allowed them to live together in her home and because of it, she could continue to go to school every morning. During those early days of her life, Jolie found it difficult to emotionally connect with other people, suffered from depression, behaved like a punk, wearing all-black clothing and periods of self-harm, engaging in knife play with her live-in boyfriend. Later she confessed that the breakup compelled her to dedicate herself to her acting career at age 16. She met Jonny Lee Miller, her first lover since the relationship in her early teens, during filming of Hackers (1995), whom she married on 28 March 1996. Interestingly, instead of a wedding gown, she attended her wedding in black rubber pants and a white T-shirt, upon which she had written the groom's name in her blood. However, the relationship ended the following year and initiated by Jolie, their divorce was finalized on 3 February 1999.

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Jolie with her first husband Jonny Lee Miller

However, before her marriage to Miller, Jolie fell in love at first sight with model and actress Jenny Shimizu on the set of Foxfire (1996) and began a lesbian relationship with her. Later, in an interview with a lesbian magazine she confessed that she loves sex both with men and women and would probably have married Jenny if she had not married her first husband.

angelina jolie
With Jenny Shimizu in Foxfire (1996)

In 1999, Jolie met and fell for actor Billy Bob Thornton on the set of Pushing Tin, but did not pursue a relationship, as during that time, Thornton was dating actress Laura Dem, while she was reportedly dating actor Timothy Hutton, her co-star in Playing God (1997). But soon, their frequent public gestures of love, especially wearing one another's blood in vials around their necks, became a favourite topic of the entertainment media. Finally, they became married on 5 May 2000, but abruptly split in 2002 and divorced on 27 May 2003.

angelina jolie
With Billy Bob Thornton

While filming Alexander (2004), Val Kilmer, playing the role of the father of Alexander the Great and Jolie, his on screen wife, sparked romance speculation. Although there is no evidence they dated at the time, Kilmer admitted in his memoir that he had a crush on Jolie. However, Jolie was involved in a prominent scandal when she was accused of causing the divorce of Hollywood’s most loved couple Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. in October 2005. Jolie confessed that she fell in love with Pitt during the filming of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), but dismissed allegations of an affair, as Pitt was married. Both of them were silent about the nature of their relationship until January 2006, when Jolie confirmed they were expecting their first child together. During their 12-year relationship, the couple was known as one of Hollywood's most glamorous couples, lovingly dubbed Brangelina by the media and was the subject of worldwide media coverage. Their family grew to include six children, three of whom were adopted, before they were legally married on 14 August 2014. However, after two years of their marriage, Jolie filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences on 19 September 2016 and they were declared legally single on 12 April 2019.

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Jolie and Brad Pitt at the 81st Academy Awards in 2009

Jolie took a bold decision, when after learning she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer due to a particular defective gene, she underwent a preventive double mastectomy on 16 February 2013, at the age of 37. In the same year she was bestowed with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for her outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes.

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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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