Angelina Jolie -- the next best thing just may have arrived
There are four things almost everyone already knows about Angelina Jolie: she's the daughter of Jon Voight and French actress Marcheline Bertrand. She has what has been referred to ad nauseam as "bee-stung" lips. She likes tattoos and has a bunch of them in places that keep men awake at night kicking themselves that they didn't check off the "tattoo artist" option on the back of that matchbook. (One of her tattoos is a Tennessee Williams quote on her left arm that reads: "A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages.")
She collects knives and other antique and idiosyncratic bits of weaponry. Here are some things you may not know about Jolie. Not only does she collect knives and has done so since she was a kid, she also has a penchant for other things on the, shall we say, cutting edge. These other things include a fascination for things a little on the dark side - death, for instance. One of Jolie's oft-quoted remarks is: "There's something about death that is comforting. The thought that you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now." She also has a willingness to do just about anything required of her to ace a role. If you don't think this is true, check out her performance as the bisexual, drug-addicted model known as Gia (in the HBO movie of the same name) that first got her noticed - big time - in Hollywood. Or sit down to watch her Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning performance in TNT's George Wallace.
And, oh yes, she has just recently been released from a mental institution in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The mental hospital in question was a real one, although Jolie wasn't a real patient. She was playing a sociopathic patient named Lisa in the film version of Susanna Kaysen's best-selling memoir, Girl, Interrupted. Kaysen's book is about the two years during the late '60s that she spent in a mental institution after being diagnosed with severe depression as a teenager. There, she lived in the ever-changing company of other dysfunctional females, including a charming, albeit not altogether sane, ringleader named Lisa. The character of Kaysen is played by Winona Ryder. Jolie took some delight in playing the brash, over-the-top Lisa after beating out almost every other young actress in Hollywood. They all wanted to play what Girl, Interrupted writer/director James Mangold (Cop Land, Heavy) terms the "show-off part."
But as the audition process for Girl, Interrupted wore on, Mangold, - who told Premiere magazine he always saw the part of Lisa being played by a sort of "Jack Nicholson in drag" - was beginning to worry about whether or not he'd ever find the perfect Lisa - until Jolie showed up.
"Angie walked in one day, sat down, and was Lisa," says Mangold, "I felt like the luckiest boy on earth."
Jolie had already read Kaysen's book and when she took it down off the shelf after getting the role, she noticed that she had underlined numerous passages in the book - all of them dealing with Lisa.
"Lisa is somebody who lives purely on impulse," Jolie says. "She's very angry at people for not being who they are - for living with masks on." Jolie, on the other hand, is not one to live with a mask on, not yet, anyway. "I read things I've said and I don't realize I'm being a 'bad' girl," she says. "I do like being sexual. I do collect knives, I do like tattoos. I like dark things. But there's a side to me that's soft, too."
It was probably her soft side showing through when, at the ripe old age of 20, she married her Hackers costar Jonny Lee Miller ("the second man I was with," says Jolie).
Miller stayed with her during the filming of Gia, a role she says she was reluctant to take on because of the emotional carnage she knew it would wreak on her soul. But take it on she did. Afterwards, she gave up acting and moved to New York City where she began taking classes at New York University's film school. (Miller moved to London - where he eventually landed a role in Trainspotting - and the couple, now divorced, never got back together.)
But, eventually, Jolie's psychic wounds healed and she returned to Hollywood to play Billy Bob Thorton's unfaithful wife in Pushing Tin. More recently, she was seen scouring the sewers looking for dead bodies under the tutelage of Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector.
"I surfaced," Jolie says about her re-emergence as a player to be reckoned with amongst the young female actresses in Hollywood. And this time, she says she's "so much stronger. I'm not hard on myself anymore. I simply don't ask much of anybody, but just to be who they are."
Which leaves us with one more thing that you should maybe know about Angelina Jolie: "When I was a little girl," Jolie confessed to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, "my first sexual fantasy was Spock,"
When asked why Spock, she went on to explain that the Vulcan's icy cold reserve - not to mention the fact that he only needs to mate once every seven years - was a challenge she found irresistible.
"Like, you know," she said, "you can't break through to me, and you can't touch me, and so you kinda like think, 'Oh, I can get him.'" And you know what? She probably could.