Новая статья и интервью Анжелины для The Sunday Times.
We know that she’s Brad’s other half, a devoted mother of six, with a dark and driven side. But Angelina Jolie is also willing to put her life on the line, as our exclusive photographs of her in Afghanistan show.
On the day I am to meet Angelina Jolie, the New York newsstands are once again filled with magazines carrying her picture on their covers. A couple of recent public sightings of the elusive 33-year-old actress were enough to ignite a torrent of headlines about her six children, her exotic love life, and whether or not — as In Touch magazine indelicately put it — she has been “starving herself to get her old body back” after giving birth to twins in July.
The stories — as usual when it comes to Jolie’s complicated private life — are recklessly speculative and hopelessly contradictory.
Star magazine reports that Jolie’s boyfriend, Brad Pitt, has “fled the chaos at home” and that “things have gotten heated” for the world’s premier Hollywood couple, otherwise known as Brangelina. But OK! magazine is sure that “Brad loves Angie’s curves”.
I had feared, on arriving at Jolie’s suite at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Park Avenue, that the usual phalanx of Hollywood flunkies would be on hand to protect their star from intrusive questioning. Yet when her door opens, she is standing alone inside — a tall, graceful figure in a white wrapround dress that manages to be sexy and demure at the same time. She’s still breast-feeding her three-month-old twins. Brad would have to be nuts not to love the milk-heavy curves that are straining through Angie’s dress.
She ushers me to a sofa and curls up at the other end. I find myself slightly dazed by how disarmingly natural she seems. She is arguably the world’s most beautiful woman — certainly the most gossiped about — and one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws: Bond meets Jessica Rabbit. She’s now also convincingly delivering heart and emotion in movies like her latest, The Changeling, in which she plays a distraught mother who loses her child. She’s got the looks, the career, the man, the talent, the money and a minibus-load of adorable kids. It sounds pretty much like having it all.
Yet has this glowing maternal icon really escaped the weird vices and weirder relationships of her not-so-distant past, and what is it she wants of her future? This is a woman who said just four years ago: “ Tomorrow evening everything may change — my life, my image, people around me, my occupation… otherwise it would be so boring to live.” That full and fascinating life shifts at dizzying speed. Is motherhood and seeming maturity likely to prove just another accident-prone interlude in Jolie’s tumultuous life?
She’s wearing no jewellery and minimal make-up, and has just climbed off a transatlantic flight from Germany (albeit by private jet); yet she shows not a trace of the supposed ailments that tabloid investigators claim to have diagnosed over the past few months: depression, anorexia, romantic strife. Within a week of our meeting she is off again to spend two days in Afghanistan for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). She’s been a goodwill ambassador for the organisation since 2001, visiting more than 20 countries in that time, from Sierra Leone and Kosovo to Costa Rica and Iraq. And, unlike others, she goes where real bullets fly. While there, three aid workers will be murdered by hit-and-run assassins. Why she’s going to Kabul, she’ll tell us on her return.
For now I wonder how she manages to live with the scrutiny that has dogged her career ever since she won a best-supporting-actress Oscar for playing a sociopathic mental patient in the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted. Surely it must bother her that her every move — real or imagined — becomes a tabloid headline? “It doesn’t bother us at all,” she says firmly. It comes as no surprise to learn that she and Brad don’t read the tabloid press and don’t watch much TV, other than the news and children’s shows. Yet they seem to have a need to remain in the spotlight. What value would her work for UNHCR have without celebrity? If it’s true that Brad Pitt is interested in pursuing a political career, why hide from the cameras? They feed the machine and it feeds them: their finances allowing them to manage, for now, two stellar careers in Hollywood and a gypsy lifestyle in which the children can be supported by nannies, tutors and staff in addition to their parents.
Surprisingly, unlike most of the Hollywood A-list, that staff doesn’t include a personal publicist for Jolie to shield her private life. In part, that’s because she’s made a point of talking about sex, drugs and her appetite for them from the start.
There’s also much that has surfaced to embarrass her from her past: but denying it doesn’t seem to be her game. She was once caught on video, wide-eyed and mumbling incoherently in what was described as a “drugs den”, about how weary she was of talking about sadomasochism, a practice she seemed to be suggesting came from deep inside her heart. It was filmed in 1999, when she was 23. She wasn’t seen taking drugs, but has freely admitted to doing so when she was younger, telling The Sunday Times in 2003: “I have done just about every drug possible: cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, LSD. The worst effect, oddly enough, was pot, which made me feel out of control.” She has also spoken in early interviews about being keen to try anything sexually, and has made no secret of her lesbian relationships. It’s seedy stuff and also fascinating. Can someone so open to experiences, dark or not, still want to flourish at the brittle heights of supposedly squeaky-clean American society? Apparently so, and without regret. “The people in my circle know not to bring anything to my attention unless it’s something they feel I really have to address,” she says. “So it is very possible to be totally unaware of everything they’re saying about me,” she giggles. “Thank God.”
To be sure, there’s plenty for “them” to say. And not all of it speculative or bitchy. The star of such diverse films as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, A Mighty Heart and Kung Fu Panda — in which she gave voice to the role of a cartoon tigress — has earned consistent acclaim for her acting skills from critics and audiences. Almost alone among leading Hollywood actresses, she is as confident slinging guns in high-tech action thrillers as she is breaking into tears in emotional dramas. In addition to her Oscar, she has three Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild awards and is already being tipped for more prizes for her latest role in Changeling, based on a true story from the 1920s and directed by Clint Eastwood.
At an age when many Hollywood actresses start to wonder if their looks will hold up and their careers will hold out, Jolie is confidently planning another film in February then a year-long break to tend to her family, “and then one film a year, one film every three years, one film every six years. I’ll just, you know, fade away…” This seems hard to believe. Not least because her humanitarian interests show no sign of fading. While filing Tomb Raider in Cambodia, she approached UNHCR for more information on international trouble spots and began a series of field trips around the world to learn more. “It’s hard not to be affected by what you see and feel. I’ve seen and spoken to families whose lives have been destroyed by war, conflict and human-rights abuses. I’ve watched children struggle to survive without shelter, clothing, or food,” she says on her return from Kabul.
In recent years she’s promoted humanitarian issues at a political level. She supports the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children in America, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and her Wikipedia site boasts a single image at the top of the page — a portrait taken at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2005. But she’s not looking for a career change. “I don’t think I belong in politics, but I will work with politicians to bring about change.”
Like George Clooney, Jolie is acutely aware of the dim reputation of Hollywood liberals and their political posturing, but is also convinced that she can use her celebrity to focus attention on African conflict or Asian misery. “I want to learn more about the world, and I’m becoming a better student,” she says.
Then, of course, there’s the monster Brangelina, the paparazzi magnet that feeds an industry of media and internet gossip columnists. It started in 2005, when Jolie met Pitt on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith, a spy caper they filmed together. It exploded into tabloid nirvana when Pitt left his then-wife, Jennifer Aniston, to set up home with Jolie, who has been denounced ever since as a marriage-wrecker.
Brangelina gave birth to the latest of Jolie’s contrasting identities, a condition best described as mass motherhood. After years of largely narcissistic excess — all those men, tattoos and having sex with women and snogging with her brother and cutting herself with knives — Jolie now presides over a sprawling family of three children adopted from Cambodia (Maddox, aged 7), Vietnam (Pax, 4) and Ethiopia (Zahara, known as Zee, 3); three of her own children with Brad (Shiloh, 2 — born in Namibia — and the new twins Knox and Vivienne); and the prospect of more on the way.
“Most likely we’ll adopt again,” she calmly announces. She talks about her family as if she was baking a cake: “As we layer them in, with two new ones, we’re watching that balance, that shape and form, and once we feel that’s solid, we’ll know when it’s time to bring in another.”
It’s tempting to read into this near-frantic immersion in chaotic, multinational family life a reaction to Jolie’s own difficult childhood. Her father was Jon Voight, the Oscar-winning star of Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance. Her mother was Marcheline Bertrand, a French-Canadian actress who died of ovarian cancer aged 56 last year. Her parents split when she was one, and she and her brother, James Haven, were raised by their mother, initially in New York and then in LA. Jolie has endured a famously stormy relationship with her father, who once claimed his daughter had “serious emotional problems”. They reconciled and appeared together in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but fell out again soon after, and he’s the one subject that Jolie does not discuss beyond recognising that they both have a “dark and driven” side, and an angry outburst in which she made the point that one isn’t simply born into a family, one has to earn a place within it. So it’s fascinating that she should have eclipsed her father’s career in testosterone-fuelled roles and begun to emulate her mother’s femininity within her work, family and even her choice of France to give birth and find a family home.
There’s also a lingering poignancy in it all. When her famous father left her as a child, Jolie’s mother struggled. And she did too. It was a successful life on many levels — Voight seems to have given them money, if not time — but one in which she felt vulnerable. At Beverly Hills high school she often wore secondhand clothes and was teased for her features, for being skinny and for wearing glasses and braces. At 14 she was living with a boyfriend and became a kind of goth. The self-harming appears to have started around then, her lonely cutting leading seemingly into an interest in sadomasochism as she grew older.
She did eventually graduate from high school, but it’s not a happy picture and the echoes of it continue through to today, in the tattoos on her body. She has six sets of geographical co-ordinates on her upper left arm indicating the birthplaces of her children and several telling quotes, including one from Tennessee Williams: “a prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages”, and a Latin proverb, “Quod me nutrit me destruit” — “what nourishes me, destroys me”. They seem to speak of enormous introspection and loneliness. Some have been lasered away, including a window on her lower back that she removed, it is claimed, because while she used to spend all her time looking through windows wishing to be outside, she now lives there all the time.
Is it safer for her to be out in the bigger world and in the public eye than locked within her own interior world? That’s already a lot of baggage for one woman’s life, but I haven’t even mentioned her disastrous marriages to Jonny Lee Miller, a British actor whose name she wrote in blood on her shirt when she married him in 1996; and to Billy Bob Thornton, the drawling American icon of whom she once said, “We’re never going to separate” (the couple wore vials of each other’s blood around their necks; the marriage lasted three years).
The real problem, of course, is that Jolie has become so famous for being Jolie that her work as a serious actress is in danger of being undermined by the celebrity circus. There was a hint of this in the reaction to A Mighty Heart, in which she played Mariane Pearl, the pregnant wife of a US journalist who was kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan.
The high-profile role won her critical praise and a couple of prizes, but no Oscar nomination and a tepid response at the American box office, where, to be fair, no terrorist-related films have made much of an impact.
There are already signs that her work in Changeling might fall foul of the Brangelina effect. Again, she is playing a real-life woman stricken by loss, and some American critics have wondered whether after A Mighty Heart, that might seem too familiar to Academy voters. They may also consider that it’s no longer enough of a stretch for Jolie to be playing an anguished mother. Could an Oscar snub lie in store?
In Changeling, Jolie plays Christine Collins, a California telephone-company supervisor and single mother whose nine-year-old son went missing in 1928. When the police announce that the boy has been found, and present Collins with a child she doesn’t recognise, the stage is set for a startling confrontation between a bewildered yet determined mother and a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department that has its own sinister reasons for wanting to silence Collins and close the kidnapping case.
Jolie delivers a restrained and dignified performance that seems to justify Eastwood’s gamble of choosing so famous a face for his Oscar entry this year. “I do feel responsibility to the production,” she says. “It’s important that I did my job well.” But she doesn’t seem to worry too much about trophies: she confesses she has lost her original Oscar.
“I gave it to my mother and she’s passed away. I don’t know where it is,” she adds.
She began work on Changeling soon after her mother’s death from cancer, and became pregnant with her twins during filming. She also had to overcome her natural qualms about acting out every parent’s worst nightmare. “It was one of the reasons that at first I didn’t want to do the film,” she says. “I knew how hard it would be, I didn’t want to think about those types of things. I didn’t want to make that phone call and hear the words out of my mouth, ‘my son’s missing’.”
Her model for the role was her own mother. Her real life and screen life overlapped to the extent that she carried her mother’s picture in the handbag she used as Collins.
“My mom was a very sweet, soft-spoken woman who didn’t like to yell, wasn’t comfortable swearing, but was fierce about her children and protecting them.” Jolie found that there was “something very bonding” about playing a woman so like her own mother so soon after her mother’s death. “It helped me to heal, to inhabit the kind of femininity that my mother had, that modern women don’t have so much.”
There’s something else that modern women don’t have so much, and that’s a certainty that modern men will stick around. The date of Pitt’s presumed departure from the Brangelina coalition — they have no plans to marry — remains a staple of tabloid fare, with their break-up routinely reported either to have occurred last week, or to be about to occur next week. “Brad and Angelina at breaking point!” declared the cover of Life & Style magazine in September. “Have they split ?” wondered In Touch Weekly.
Jolie is rather sweet when talking about her lover, but her fans have been down this road before. When her marriage to Thornton collapsed in May 2003, Jolie announced with characteristic frankness: “It took me by surprise too, because, overnight, we totally changed.”
The basis of the rather sexist presumption that Pitt is itching to leave seems to lie in the admittedly unusual routine that Jolie has imposed on the Brangelina household and the fact that, as the family tour the world, Pitt often appears like some beleaguered Denis Thatcher who trailed after Margaret. Not easy when you are a heartthrob in the same business. In the most recent Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, Angelina is listed as the world’s third most powerful star, behind Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods. In terms of earnings, Brad is still ahead of her — it’s claimed he earns $20m a film to her $14m.
Before meeting Pitt, and when she had adopted Maddox, Angelina had spoken of wanting to adopt a huge family on her own. With Pitt she would appear to have a level of trust, and perhaps need, that she hasn’t shown in her previous relationships. “We have an agreement at home that if there’s something either one of us loves, a story we really want to do, we take turns working and the other will always make a big home and bring the kids and keep everything together and make it work,” says Jolie.
That’s why she and her children have stepped off a plane from Germany — the family has been living in a rented villa in Berlin while Brad films Inglourious Basterds, a second-world-war adventure directed by Quentin Tarantino. The family flew to New York earlier in October so that Jolie could attend the New York film festival premiere of Changeling; they all flew back to Germany so Brad could film more scenes; then they all flew to New York again so Jolie could help Eastwood promote their film.
Then there’s the question of the children’s schooling, which is currently in the hands of travelling tutors. Having failed to learn French — her mother’s second language — while growing up, Jolie is keen that her children become bilingual. She also wants Pax to learn something of his native Vietnamese, and Maddox to keep up his Khmer.
“But we all wanted to have one second language in common, and we chose French,” she says. That’s part of the reason they decided to settle in Provence, where they have bought a substantial property. “We love the quality of life there, it’s slower and sweeter and very family-oriented,” says Jolie. She freely admits there was a time in her life when she thought she wouldn’t have children.
“I just thought there were so many children in the world I never felt I needed to create a life,” she said. “I wasn’t sure I’d ever be comfortable with getting pregnant.”
When she adopted Maddox from a Cambodian orphanage in 2002, she had visited the country to make Tomb Raider, seen its poverty at close hand, and felt for the first time that “I needed to be a mom and take care of someone who needed a mom”. But she still felt reluctant to become pregnant herself.
All that changed, she now says, because of Pitt. It was Pitt who wanted the big family, and Pitt who eventually persuaded her that she needed to experience childbirth herself.
“Early on when we met, we had this time when we were working together and we just spent it discussing how we saw our lives and what our plans were for the future. And there was a day when we both talked about wanting a large family. At the time I was thinking of only adoptive children, but he saw a big family mixed with adoptive and born children. And I ended up falling in love with a man who I think was destined to have children and suddenly one day it felt right and there it was.”
If Pitt didn’t realise what he was getting into, both he and Jolie are hiding it well. At one point she mentions the delight her boyfriend has been taking in her newly-rounded body. “I’m with a man who sees the beauty in the journey the mother’s body takes, as I think all men should. But some men just don’t, unfortunately.”
Pitt’s enthusiasm also surfaced in an unexpectedly public way — on, of all places, New York newsstands. Soon after the birth of their twins, the couple auctioned off the usual new-baby pictures for the world-record sum of $14m, all of which went to their charity, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, established in 2006 to help with “humanitarian crises throughout the world”.
Two months later they were approached by W magazine, a bible of the New York fashion industry, seeking another set of shots of Angelina to coincide with the release of Changeling. The grainy black-and-white photos appeared last month, billed as “Brad Pitt’s private pictures of Angelina Jolie” and suggest the actor shouldn’t give up his day job. “I’d just had the kids six weeks before and felt so private, it didn’t feel right having a photographer fly across the world with a rack of stylish clothes for me to wear.”
Pitt turns out to be a keen amateur photographer, so W commissioned him to shoot his girlfriend in candid poses at home. “It became this one-week project in our house,” Jolie says. The way she tells it, matters quickly got out of hand, and some of the photographs proved far too sexual to be released on an unsuspecting American audience. “Yeah, we thought about it, we’d look at the pictures as art and say this is a really interesting photograph, but then we’d know better and we’d think about how it was going to be received. So we made it a little more tame than it was originally.”
Jolie’s voice softened and for a moment she sounded almost wistful as she basked in a happy memory. It was hard after that to be cynical about Brangelina’s romantic prospects, but a couple of awkward questions remained. One day the couple’s children will be old enough to check out their parents’ lives on their own. Is Jolie worried that Google’s infinite internet memory will lead her kids to the long list of her past indiscretions, from the drug-taking and self-mutilation to the kinky sex? What will they make of the speculation about Jolie’s waistline and whether she resorted to plastic surgery to rid herself of post-partum flab?
How will she handle their questions? Jolie doesn’t sound too worried. “I think it’s going to be that they’ll understand they can talk to me about everything, and that by the time they get to be teenagers we’ll have formed a sufficient bond,” she says. “We tell them everything, we’re honest with them. My mother was that way with me.”
In the Brangelina household “the word ‘adoption’ is a good word”, Jolie adds. “We talk about orphanages, we talk about their countries and differences, and it’s a source of excitement and pride. I’ve heard Maddox explain to Zahara when they are talking about pregnancy, ‘No, Zee, remember, you were in that nice African woman’s belly. I was in that nice Cambodian woman’.”
It would be lovely to think that Brad and Angie can defy Hollywood’s dismal record of celebrity-marriage failure, and emulate another star couple — Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who were married for 50 years before Newman’s death in September.
However their family life develops, Jolie continues to insist she’s not the kind of woman to dwell on her mistakes. “I’m one of those people who believes you just can’t regret things in life. You have to feel confident that it was all part of the journey.” She rises gracefully from the sofa, bringing the interview to a close.
In a few hours she’ll be on the plane to Afghanistan. “I’ve wanted to visit Afghanistan for many years. I’d already seen Afghan refugees in Pakistan and heard their stories of home. Over five million Afghans have returned in the last six years since the fall of the Taliban. So I wanted to see for myself how they were doing.
“Behind the labels — refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers — are people with the same hopes, fears, sorrow and happiness as anyone. Their life experiences are often deeply tragic but also uplifting. To survive what many Afghan families have experienced over three decades is testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. This shines through in their generosity, humour, and quiet determination to offer their children a better future.”
When she returns, the photographs are evidence that Jolie has been deeply moved. In one she is clearly in tears as she listens to an old man sob out his story. “It is so rare to see a grown man break down and cry — when a man does, you feel how devastating the situation is. He was distraught that he could not do anything to help his family,” she explains later.
But what of Jolie? Do an old man’s tears prompt her to question herself?
“If you start to regret, start to hesitate and question every move to make, then you live in some different way,” she says. “And for all the craziness I’ve done, I’ve never hurt anybody.” Except, perhaps, herself.
Changeling is released nationwide on November 28