She’s got legs
Angelina Jolie, who played the dykey drifter “Legs” in ‘Foxfire,’ spills her guts.
When lesbian supermodel Gia Carangi slid from $10,000-a-day fashion shoots to the welfare hospital-where she would become one of the first American women to die of AIDS-she knew somebody would document her life story. Gia feared she’d be immortalized in a schlocky Monday night movie titled The Adventures of Carangi. She wanted to be portrayed by an actress who could actually understand her: someone who was rebellious, dramatic, obsessive, perhaps even queer. Gia gets her wish next month as 22-year-old model-turned-actress Angelina Jolie takes center stage in the HBO movie, simply titled Gia.
Jolie captured critics’ attention for her performances in Foxfire and Hackers, but it’s her offbeat personality and exotic good looks that gets Jolie, like Gia, enormous attention. US magazine said that Jolie, with “her mile-high legs and enormous, pillow-shaped lips, has an appearance that’s as extreme as her personality.” Bazaar’s Gloria Wong called her “the cool girl in high school you always wanted to be.”
Undeniably, Jolie has a personality to be reckoned with. The part-Iroquois actress once wanted to become a funeral director. (There’s something about death that is comforting,” she explains. “The thought that you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now.”) She skydives, collects daggers, voraciously studies Vlad the Impaler, has the Japanese word for death tattoed on her shoulder, and wore a black rubber dress to her own wedding.
The men in Jolie’s life have sometimes preceded her reputation. Her father, actor Jon Voight, rose to stardom with his portrayal of a gay hustler in Midnight Cowboy. Her husband Jonny Lee Miller received accolades for his role as a Sean Connery-fixated junkie in Trainspotting. Her brother, James Haven Voight, until recently a USC cinema student, directed Jolie in five of his student films. But that’s all about to change because Jolie-who uses her middle name as her stage name to downplay the Voight legacy-has never wanted to be the type of actress who lives in the shadow of men. After 14 movies, Jolie’s turns in three recent hits-Wallace, Gia and Playing God-have left her hanging on the cusp of stardom.
Now the girl with the luscious natural pout talks to Girlfriends about cyborgs, supermodels, and what she has in common with Gia.
Girlfriends: Let’s talk a bit about Gia, in which you star with Faye Dunaway and Mercedes Ruehl.
Jolie: It’s wrapped; it comes out in January. [I grew my hair out for Gia, but] I have a shaved head now.
G: What was it like playing such an out-of-control beauty?
J: It was really tough. When I first got the script I avoided it. There was a lot of the story that I really identified with, so I didn’t want to touch it. I just didn’t want to deal with it. She had a lot of pain. Gia was emotionally [and] literally raped, but she had such a fire for life and in her love for women. She had these incredible crazy moments, and she was always attacking everything she wanted, just going for it.
G: What aspect of Gia’s personality did you most identify with?
J: Oh, that’s really personal. [Pauses] Just the part about figuring out who you are. Wanting the world to be so much and watching everyone else have so much less enthusiasm. People not understanding your craziness when you’re all excited about something, but they want you to calm down. Not ever feeling completely full.
G: I take it you’re not striving to be the next Heather Locklear, are you? Are you actively trying to cultivate this image you have-sexy, edgy, intelligent, maybe even superior-or is it you?
J: I’m trying to be that. I want to be sexy, powerful, smart. I love those kinds of women.
G: You wielded a butterfly knife in Foxfire, kickboxed in Cyborg II, and were tougher than all the boys in Hackers. That made your role in Love Is All There Is seem so unlikely. Are you already typecast at 22?
J: I’m trying not to be typecast. I mean my reputation is so different than how I feel. I just played George Wallace’s second wife [Cornelia Snively] in Wallace, and in True Women I was this woman with babies in the cornfield. I feel like I’ve tried, I hope, not to be typecast. I have tried to do roles that are woman who have a strong sense of what they want and who go for it. Those are the only women I want to play. Even my character in Love Is All There Is was feisty.
G: Your character Legs in Foxfire was described as violent and unpredictable. Is that how you saw her?
J: She was completely who she was in the moment, and that made her unpredictable. She was not out of control; she was very there. She was the person always ready to step up to bat to take care of things, and sometimes that might be violent.
G: Hackers seemed like such a queer film to me. (Tough girls, Asian boys in drag, pig-tailed boys in kitten t-shirts.) Do you think there’s an overlap between hacker culture and queer culture or is it that any underground culture is easily seen as queer?
J: I think Hackers was about testing barriers, testing opinions. It’s not just testing the limits around masculine and feminine; it was about testing barriers about different races, different sexes; everything being not what it should be; and who cares anyway? It was not about ‘guys don’t do this.’ It was fun for all of us to try that. I think that [hacker culture] is experimenting with anything they want to do or be, about having the freedom to play, and maybe that seems queer.
G: You met and married your husband during the filming of Hackers?
J: No, we met during Hackers, and then we didn’t talk to each other for a long time. When I was doing Foxfire we started talking, and months later we got married. I probably would have married Jenny Shimizu if I hadn’t married my husband. I fell in love with her the first second I saw her. Actually, I saw when she was being cast in Foxfire, and I thought she had just read for my part. I thought I was going to lose the job. I said to myself, “Oh, my God, that’s Legs.” She’s great. We had a lot of fun.
G: Your husband has been described as Britain’s Brad Pitt. Is that a fair assessment?
J: [Laughter] Really? I don’t know Brad Pitt, but that’s certainly not how I treat him.
G: How do you feel about being a sex symbol for men and women?
J: It’s great because I love men and women.
G: How does your husband feel about it?
J: You’d have to ask him, but I think he’s okay with it. He came to the set of Foxfire. He was around when I was figuring things out about myself, when I was realizing that I was attracted to women also. If anything, he took it very seriously. When I realized that somebody like Jenny could be a deep love for me, he realized it, and he took it very seriously. If anything, he didn’t treat it just like some sexy thing.
G: Foxfire received a lot of criticism for being ambivalent about the sexuality of the girls and not being overt about lesbianism. Do you think women tend to be more fluid about their sexuality?
J: I felt like Legs was a woman whose sexuality was always in question. I honestly could never see her bed with somebody. I didn’t want it to be about that. It was about friendship and bonding. I don’t think the other girls came to any conclusions [about their sexuality] either.
Legs was this woman who was very experienced in the world, and if she had seduced Maddy it wouldn’t have been right. Maddy had to figure it out herself. It wasn’t my role to come in and turn them all gay. If they opened up and questioned themselves down the road-which you could imagine-that’s what my role was, to open them up. It was not about us all fucking each other. I also felt like if Legs had been with anyone it would have been [Shimizu’s character] Goldy. In the real world, she would have taken her as a girlfriend because they were most alike. In the movie, Maddy was her opposite, very innocent, and that’s probably why they were interested in each other.
G: Your next movie is Playing God, with Tim Hutton and David Duchovny. Duchovny’s gotten a lot of attention lately. What was it like working with him? Do you seduce him in the movie?
J: I had sex scenes with both him and Tim. They cut both of my sex scenes. With David we were basking in sunlight, and with Tim we were fucking hard in the back of a car. I think they felt like they couldn’t have one without the other so they cut them both.
It was nice working with [Duchovny]. I hadn’t seen X-Files when I worked with him so I guess that was good. He was very sweet.
G: Who has been your favorite actress or actor to work with?
J: Jenny was great. In fact, all the girls in Foxfire were great, just watching them become actresses. Gary Sinise [in Wallace] was incredible, watching him go crazy and break open a script.
G: I hear you have two killer tattoes; one is the Japanese word for death. What is the other?
J: I have several. I had “courage” in Japanese, and I had it removed. I have a cross, [an American Indian symbol], and two dragons, and one over my sex.
G: Why did you remove “courage”?
J: That’s a tough one. When I got my first tattoo, I got death, and Jonny got courage. While he was doing Trainspotting, I was in Scotland and wanted to get another one, but I didn’t know what to get, so I just got courage. I thought, “Oh I’ll just match his.” But it was never really me.
G: What role would you love to play?
J: I’ll probably go after a bunch of guy’s roles next. They’re not really written for women, but there are some great roles; some great Army movies. I want to play a sheriff, a cowboy, an Army person. I’ll just keep trying for those strong roles.