Biography – Chapter 1: Childhood & Early Years
Angelina Jolie Voight, which translates to ‘pretty little angel’, was born 4 June 1975 in Los Angeles to Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand.
Angelina’s father is an Oscar Award Winning actor, whom Angelina has had a much publicized rocky relationship with over the years. Her mother is “part Iroquois Indian from Chicago” and not French Parisian as much of the media has claimed, actress and model. Her brother is James Haven Voight, whom now goes by James Haven. James is a film director and attended the USC School of Cinema. Angelina has starred in five of his student films.
Angelina’s parents divorced when she was 6 months old. Her father was not an active partner in little Angelina’s life and she says that she “cannot remember her father very well growing up.” This was the beginning of an unstable relationship between Angelina and Jon Voight. After the family split up, Angelina and her brother James continued living with their mother in Los Angeles and later on in New York.
As a little girl in kindergarten, Angelina was part of a group called the Kissy Girls. She said that they would chase the boys around and kiss them. Angelina was seen kissing one of the boys by the school fence, which didn’t please watching parents so the school put a stop to their game.
Like many young girls, and living in New York with her mother and brother, she used to love playing dress up. “I had this black velvet frilly little showgirl thing with sparkles on my butt, and I used to love those plastic high heels”, says Angelina. Unlike many young girls, Angelina liked collecting snakes and lizards. Her favourite lizard was named Vladimir and her favourite snake, Harry Dean Stanton. She also, admittedly had a crush on Mr. Spock from Star Trek.
Angelina’s first role in a film was at age 7, 1982, in Lookin’ To Get Out. A movie about gamblers in trouble, which was also co-written and starred her father, Jon Voight. Angelina had a very small part as Tosh.
As Angelina got older and having never owned a house and constantly moving as a child, it took an emotional toll on her and she believes today that her desire to be a funeral director at one point (she even took a home course) was due to “never being rooted anywhere” as a child. She was craving stability.
When Angelina was 11 years old, her mother moved the family back to Los Angeles. It was during these early teens that Angelina’s life was covered by a dark cloud. “When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers I kind of wanted to be a vampire”, Angelina has said of her days as a young girl. When she was 14 years old, she had her boyfriend of two years live at the house she shared with her mother and brother. It was during this time she started playing with knives in the bedroom. One night they were having sex, nothing felt like enough for Angelina so she grabbed a knife and cut him and he did her the same until they were both covered in blood. She has said that it felt more honest to her, having sex this way. Apparently today, there is a faint scar on Angelina’s jaw line from where she asked her boyfriend to draw the blade along.
At 16, inspired by her mother (whom previously studied acting at the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg), Angelina also went to the Strasberg Institute and it was here that she got the acting bug and wanted to act professionally. She trained at the institute for two years, appearing in several stage productions. During her time at Beverly Hills High School, Angelina saw herself as an outcast. She was constantly picked on for her glasses, braces and now, world wide famous big lips. She calls her teens her “awkward mental breakdown” adolescence. “I wore black fishnets and boots because I wanted to hide myself. I wanted to feel everything and go slam dancing. But at the same time, I was doing plays and taking ballroom classes at Arthur Murray. I’d wash off all the ink I had drawn on my arms, take off my twenty-hole Doc Martens and put on high heels and a dress and win tango competitions. My friends thought I was insane. But I thought it was fun”, says Jolie.
Unable to bond with other human beings, one of the ways Angelina coped was through self mutilation “to feel alive”. Though today, with that long in the past, she does not regret being so open about that part of her life. “I don’t believe in regret. I have had people come up to me who used to mutilate themselves with knives – or are cutting themselves – and want to talk about why they are doing it or why they or I stopped. I don’t have shame in my life. The tattoos, the cutting, it’s all connected to something that feels real”, says Jolie of that time in her life.
Her two year relationship with her boyfriend had now ended and she moved out of her mother’s home and into her own apartment across the street and went back to theatre. Angelina and her father briefly became closer during this time. Voight noticed her talent, being moved to tears by her reading of the part of Catherine in A View From The Bridge. Angelina, having blossomed into a beautiful teenager, was now modeling and appearing in video clips for big stars like Meat Loaf, Lenny Kravitz, Lemonheads and The Rolling Stones.
Life seemed to be going in the right direction for Angelina, but whatever confidence she had, kept on plummeting. It was around this time that she tried hiring a man to kill her. Thankfully the hitman told her to think about this request for a month and one would assume that Angelina never called him back.