Born Angelina Jolie Voight, on June 4, 1975, in Los Angeles, California. Her
father, actor Jon Voight—best known for Midnight Cowboy (1969) and
Coming Home (1978), for which he won an Oscar—separated from her mother,
the former model/actress Marcheline Bertrand, when Jolie was just a year
old. Raised by her mother along with her older brother, James Haven, in
Palisades, New York, Jolie made her feature film debut with a bit role in
the poorly received 1982 film Lookin’ to Get Out, co-produced and
co-written by Voight, who also starred.
Jolie began formally studying acting at the renowned Lee Strasberg
Theater Institute in New York City at age 11. Five years later, she began
living on her own, working as a professional model and appearing in music
videos for artists including the Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, Meat Loaf,
and the Lemonheads. Moving back to Los Angeles, Jolie acted in several
student films directed by her brother, who was then attending the University
of Southern California film school; she also joined the Met Theater Group
and performed alongside fellow members like Ed Harris and Holly Hunter.
After a couple forgettable films (including the direct-to-video Cyborg
II: Glass Shadows), Jolie landed her first starring role in the 1995
cyber-thriller Hackers. Though the film met with a generally poor
reception, Jolie earned praise for her performance; she also fell in love
with co-star Jonny Lee Miller. At the couple’s wedding ceremony in March
1996, the unconventional bride wore black rubber pants and a shirt on which
she had written the groom’s name in her own blood. Jolie and Miller
separated less than a year later; they were divorced in 1999.
Over the next several years, Jolie’s reputation as Hollywood’s newest
“bad girl” grew steadily, even as a number of highly acclaimed performances
established her as a talented A-list actress. In 1997, she earned an Emmy
nomination and a Golden Globe Award for her supporting turn in the TNT
biopic George Wallace, starring Gary Sinise. She achieved the same
feats—this time as Best Actress—the following year, for her
emotionally-charged performance at the center of HBO’s Gia, based on
the true story of Gia Carangi, a rebellious, heroin-addicted model who died
of AIDS in the mid-1980s.
On the big screen, Jolie initially had less success, starring in several
poorly received films, most notably Foxfire (1996) and Playing God
(1997), co-starring Timothy Hutton and David Duchovny. She had more luck
with the ensemble comedy-drama Playing By Heart (1998), appearing
alongside such heavy-hitters as Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands. In 1999,
Jolie appeared in three major films: the disappointing comedy Pushing Tin,
co-starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett; The Bone
Collector, a thriller co-starring Denzel Washington; and Girl,
Interrupted, co-starring Winona Ryder. In the latter film, Jolie’s
performance as Lisa, a charismatic sociopathic inmate in a psychiatric
hospital, earned her rave reviews, a third straight Golden Globe, and an
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2000, Jolie starred with Nicolas Cage in the action-packed Gone in
Sixty Seconds. In the summer of 2001, she made a serious bid for action
stardom in the title role of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and starred with
Antonio Banderas in the steamy period drama Original Sin.
After her divorce from Miller, Jolie was romantically linked to her
Playing God co-star and veteran “bad boy” Hutton; they reportedly broke
up in 1999. In the spring of 2000, she began dating her Pushing Tin
co-star and fellow Oscar winner (Best Adapted Screenplay for 1997's Sling
Blade) Thornton. The couple were married (she for the second time, he
for the fifth) on May 5, 2000, in Las Vegas.
In August 2001, Jolie was appointed as an ambassador for the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has made visits to refugee camps
in such conflict-ridden countries as Pakistan, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone.
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