Up until now Angelina Jolie has been the support who blows the headliners off the screen. The Bone Collector provided her first headlining role, but with Girl Interrupted, in which she plays a sociopath in a nut house, it's her career that's about to go mental. SAIN's David Michael hooked up with the actress on her first trip to Sydney.
Angelina Jolie is more than a pouting, Hollywood glamour puss. True, she possesses the lips to 'out pout' any of her acting peers, and a sexual charge to vamp up any film, but it is her spell binding performances and mature screen presence that makes her the real deal, bringing her universal respect. Aussie director Phillip Noyce, fought hammer and tong to cast the actress in The Bone Collector, despite being slapped in the face by resulting studio budget cuts. Mike Newell, who directed her in Pushing Tin, was also mesmerised: "Every time she read for me, I kept thinking &endash; Am I seeing what I'm seeing? Is this real? Or is this just a lucky day for her? &endash; But it's real, and you also have to say to yourself that she is Jon Voight's daughter and genes must mean something." A former model, the daughter of an Oscar winner, a marriage and divorce with Trainspotter Jonny Lee Miller, a fondness for knives, and a series of seven tattoos depicting her emotional ethos and beliefs, all serve as the pegs that the media hang her celebrity status on.
When we meet &endash; Angelina Jolie Voight is tired. In the middle of her weekend whistle stop tour of Australia promoting The Bone Collector, the only thing keeping her awake is the glow of director Noyce's Mambo shirt. Who pops in before the interview to say a quick hello. She's so tired in fact, that during our interview, she refers once to the film as the "Bone Cruncher". The first intrigue of meeting Jolie is seeing the true form of an actress who is a true chameleon of the big screen. Jet lagged and dressed head to foot in black, she resembles a tranquillised panther &endash; a beautiful slender feline creature with big sleepy eyes, that exude a calm grace you can sense a fervent and intense power behind.
Sitting opposite me, at a small desk in her hotel room; it's like a job interview. She carries a pleasant demeanour that befits somebody who is very candid about adding headlining status to her acting CV. "When we were going to the premiere (Bone Collector), me and my brother both looked out of the car and saw my name above the title. We were both giggling and pointing and thought it was the funniest thing. It's funny, you don't suddenly think you've earned it".
With films rarely reaching the calibre of the performance that Jolie injects into them, it is hoped Girl Interrupted will break this spell. It was Winona Ryder who noticed the blazing trails Jolie had been scorching across cinemas, making her perfect for the part of "firecracker" Lisa. Particularly in Gia, in which she portrayed the tragic supermodel's heart felt rise and fall from grace, with such intensity that it was clear that the blood that followed through the veins of the character belonged to Jolie herself. Again, her latest role is an incarnation of Angelina, a role as she explains, called out to her &endash; "I had read Girl Interrupted five years ago and I underlined Lisa. Everything Lisa." The ethos of Lisa is very much described by one of the actress's tattoos.
The Tennessee Williams quote &endash; "prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages". It's a quote that also sums up the verve of the twenty four-year-old actress: "Yeah always, but it's really for everybody", she declares. And the cage? "Nobody is completely free, it's a prayer for kind of everybody whose got that little thing, that wild thing and they just can't let it out, or they can't say what they want or they get what they want and they're not comfortable to be who they want to be."
"Wild at Heart" implies both impulsiveness and recklessness but which one is her character? "I don't think it's reckless. I realised something about her at one point that she never criticised anybody unless it was an active criticism. I'm somebody (Lisa) who in the film calls an anorexic girl 'fat". I'm saying get over it, fucking eat! She just kind of wants everybody to be who they are. So it's for a purpose."
Jolie has issues with Lisa being portrayed as the bad girl, with the film misconstruing what she stands for &endash; "I don't agree with it. the film has a certain outcome and when I saw it I was upset about it and I realise that it may backfire to some people. They got upset about who's upset and who is free and who is tied down and who's judged and who's told their side. And then I watch and think, how can this happen, then I think the resolution is &endash; you're either gonna be angry at it and that's gonna be wonderful that's how it should be, and that's me. but if you do (think it's ok) then you're the kind of person who's gonna be pretty scared through life."
Recently in Premiere magazine, it seemed she was also at odds with the cast, creating needle and tension on the set. Something she laughs off "Oh good (sarcastically laughing as she sips her coffee), the interview in Premiere magazine made it seem like that's a bunch of people that heard I didn't like working with women (laughs). I was very absorbed in the role. I think there was a time when some people felt that I was angry or they thought I was being hostile, and I have to kind of remind myself and maybe get someone to remind them, that I was playing a sociopath and not to take things personally."
This misunderstanding comes from the actresses amazing ability to devour herself into her roles, which inturn become portals for her to explore life "her therapy", as she puts it. "Yeah, it's my therapy. The thing you do in your life, the discussions you have with people should be your therapy, your advancement, and your coming to terms with who you are. Mine is kind of blown up and advanced because I can jump into it. Maybe I'm a wife, maybe I'm a mother I jump into one side of myself completely, and deal with what that is it feels like". But this therapy has dealt her a double blow: strain on her personal life "I don't really have one", and the swallowing up of her marriage ' "I'm only still not with him because we spend so much time apart. I couldn't be the wife he deserved right now."
Rolling Stone magazine recently portrayed her as a sexual wild cat, posing with panthers, fishnets and whisky bottles. To which she has previously stressed: "I felt like a whore in that outfit (US cover), and I didn't want to wear it. it's Rolling Stone and it's sexy and I find a part of me is sexual and so it's all me." But when it comes down to her acting roles,. She doesn't appreciate unnecessary titillation. I cite the coincidence of her character Amelia in The Bone Collector being a former model like herself which receives an animated reply: "That's just bullshit. I couldn't get out of it. I wanted it out of the movie. So our compromise was &endash; it wasn't lingerie it was bad catalogue. I just ignored it and wouldn't shoot it. it was just somebody in a studio deciding that they thought she was attractive for a cop and they needed to explain that. when were they going to explain Denzel, you know? Does he have a modelling past because he's not bad looking!"
Overall she ahs a very pragmatic wariness of her looks. "I kind of assume if someone is going to comment on how I look in a good way or a bad way, if they're gonna take me apart, I can just assume fuck who wrote that. I assume that whoever's reading isn't gonna go &endash; "yea she does look stupid in that dress" or "I don't like her face. I know that person deep down has looked in the mirror and wondered if they are good enough and felt stupid in their clothes sometimes because they thought people might judge them. So I don't care". Mutual laughter ensues when I remark "You're very insightful!"
With such conviction to the authenticity of her roles, it is difficult to see how she survives in the shallow and fickle world of Hollywood. "There's a lot of bullshit, I've seen many directors, be whoever they are, they're so sorry you had to sit there for ten minutes, and there's the crew &endash; everybody is freezing." But as the star gets bigger the pampering increases "Yeah, but I'm with the crew, these guys (directors) are going to have their little trip and it doesn't matter. I'm working as much for that guy who spent all night building the set, because it's his set and I want to make it look good. I've had so many fights with directors and producers and those usually end up becoming my best friends."
There is no surprise to the answer, when I probe to find out what the girl, who states she has no social life, does to relax: "I like working. God, my job is such a great thing. I meet other actors and people &endash; we all play, well all kind of learn, talk and discuss things, write things and feel things together. It's like that's great". Her work encapsulates everything &endash; "my work to me is to try and figure things out about life, and having purposes for every day of my life." And through the sacrifices and scars her characters bear, you can watch Angelina Jolie grow up on the big screen. Which she is more than happy to confirm: "Yeah, if you accept that, or agree with that, or feel for that, then somehow we can both know that if I'm screaming about wishing somebody would love me more and somebody understands that, I know that I'm not alone. So it's kind of like we're all going on a journey together."