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.
Jolie had appeared in five of her brother's student films, made while he attended the USC School of Cinema, but her movie career proper began in 1993, when she starred as Casella "Cash" Reese, alongside Elias Koteas and Jack Palance in Cyborg 2. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.