January 17th, 2019 | Updated on May 25th, 2020
Angelina Jolie is an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. She has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards, and has been cited as Hollywood’s highest-paid actress.
Jolie made her screen debut as a child alongside her father, Jon Voight, in Lookin’ to Get Out (1982). Her film career began in earnest a decade later with the low-budget production Cyborg 2 (1993), followed by her first leading role in a major film, Hackers (1995).
She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical cable films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted (1999).
Jolie’s starring role as the video game heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) established her as a leading Hollywood actress.
She continued her successful action-star career with Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), and Salt (2010), and received critical acclaim for her performances in the dramas A Mighty Heart (2007) and Changeling (2008), which earned her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Her biggest commercial success came with the fantasy picture Maleficent (2014). In the 2010s, Jolie expanded her career into directing, screenwriting, and producing, with In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011), Unbroken (2014), By the Sea (2015), and First They Killed My Father (2017).
In addition to her film career, Angelina Jolie is noted for her humanitarian efforts, for which she has received a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and an honorary damehood of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG), among other honors.
She promotes various causes, including conservation, education, and women’s rights, and is most noted for her advocacy on behalf of refugees as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
As a public figure, Jolie has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry.
For a number of years, she was cited as the world’s most beautiful woman by various media outlets, and her personal life is the subject of wide publicity. Divorced from actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, she separated from her third husband, actor Brad Pitt, in September 2016.
They have six children together, three of whom were adopted internationally.
Early Life And Family
Born in Los Angeles, California, Jolie is the daughter of actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. She is the sister of actor James Haven, and the niece of singer-songwriter Chip Taylorand geologist and volcanologist Barry Voight.
Her godparents are actors Jacqueline Bisset and Maximilian Schell. On her father’s side, Jolie is of German and Slovak descent, and on her mother’s side, she is of primarily French Canadian, Dutch, and German ancestry.
Like her mother, Jolie has stated that she is part Iroquois, although her only known indigenous ancestors were 17th-century Hurons.
After her parents’ separation in 1976, Jolie and her brother lived with their mother, who had abandoned her acting ambitions to focus on raising her children.Her mother raised her Catholic, but did not require her to go to church.
As a child, she often watched films with her mother and it was this, rather than her father’s successful career, that inspired her interest in acting, though at age five she had a bit part in Voight’s Lookin’ to Get Out (1982).
When Jolie was six years old, Bertrand and her live-in partner, filmmaker Bill Day, moved the family to Palisades, New York;they returned to Los Angeles five years later.
Jolie then decided she wanted to act and enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where she trained for two years and appeared in several stage productions.
Jolie first attended Beverly Hills High School, where she felt isolated among the children of some of the area’s affluent families because her mother survived on a more modest income.
She was teased by other students, who targeted her for being extremely thin and for wearing glasses and braces. Her early attempts at modeling, at her mother’s insistence, proved unsuccessful.
She then transferred to Moreno High School, an alternative school, where she became a “punk outsider,” wearing all-black clothing, going out moshing, and experimenting with knife play with her live-in boyfriend.
She dropped out of her acting classes and aspired to become a funeral director, taking at-home courses to study embalming.
At age 16, after the relationship had ended, Jolie graduated from high school and rented her own apartment, before returning to theater studies, though in 2004 she referred to this period with the observation, “I am still at heart—and always will be—just a punk kid with tattoos.”
As a teenager, Jolie found it difficult to emotionally connect with other people, and as a result she self-harmed, later commenting, “For some reason, the ritual of having cut myself and feeling the pain, maybe feeling alive, feeling some kind of release, it was somehow therapeutic to me.”
She also struggled with insomnia and an eating disorder, and began experimenting with drugs; by age 20, she had used “just about every drug possible,” particularly heroin.
Jolie suffered episodes of depression and twice planned to commit suicide—at age 19 and again at 22, when she attempted to hire a hitman to kill her.
When she was 24, she experienced a nervous breakdown and was admitted for 72 hours to UCLA Medical Center’s psychiatric ward.
Two years later, after adopting her first child, Jolie found stability in her life, later stating, “I knew once I committed to Maddox, I would never be self-destructive again.”
Jolie has had a lifelong dysfunctional relationship with her father, which began when Voight left the family when his daughter was less than a year old.
She has said that from then on their time together was sporadic and usually carried out in front of the press.
They reconciled when they appeared together in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), but their relationship again deteriorated.
Jolie petitioned the court to legally remove her surname “Voight” in favor of her middle name, which she had long used as a stage name; the name change was granted on September 12, 2002.
Voight then went public with their estrangement during an appearance on Access Hollywood, in which he claimed Jolie had “serious mental problems.”
At that point, her mother and brother also broke off contact with Voight.They did not speak for six-and-a-half years, but began rebuilding their relationship in the wake of Bertrand’s death from ovarian cancer on January 27, 2007, before going public with their reconciliation three years later.