Shock Treatment

“I am so sorry I’m late.”

I’ve only been at Johnie’s – a L.A. diner so low-rent they don’t even include the second n in the name – for about 10 minutes. This is where I’m to meet Jolie, the 24-year-old actress whose considerable talent is frequently overshadowed by both her beauty and her eccentricities.

I turn around to tell her not to worry about being late, and for a long couple of seconds, nothing comes out of my mouth; now I know what they mean by stunned silence. I was not prepared for this woman.

Angelina, The Actress

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Acting is the family business. Angelina’s father is Jon Voight. Her favorite movie of his is Anaconda, but people generally prefer him in the classic Midnight Cowboy. Angelina’s mom, Marcheline Bertrand, is also an actor, but less well known the Jon.

“I’ve gone to things where my father’s with me and my mother and brother get pushed out of the way,” Angelina says. “My father has made a choice to speak about me every time he does an interview. I’ve made a choice to not have it be about that. I got in a big fight with this interviewer. I said, ‘I don’t want to talk about him.’ He said, ‘Because you don’t like talking about him?’ And I said, ‘Okay, I’ll talk about him, but answer this – how’s your relationship with your father? Do you feel like he loved you?’ It’s strange, isn’t it, for somebody to just come up to you and ask that. But if I didn’t mention my mom, nobody would care.”

In light of all that, it’s important to point out that it was Angelina’s mother who encouraged her to act. Angelina used her middle name to avoid accusations of getting by on her father’s legacy. (Actually, their parents gave Angelina and her brother interesting middle names – Jolie and Haven – for just that purpose.) Angelina studied acting at some pretty prestigious places, including New York University, where she enrolled after her movie career was in full swing, not the other way around.

The Wild Woman

These are things you’re most likely to read about Angelina: She collects knives and has alluded to using them in – or as – foreplay (I have no idea). She has said she’s done every drug imaginable. 

Which brings us to today, to Johnie’s restaurant and everything kind of stops when Angelina walks in.

Of course, you’re expecting me to say that, because she’s so gorgeous.

But when I turn around to tell her not to worry about being late, I’m speechless. Angelina’s hair is white blond and her face is competing with it in terms of paleness. Makeup tries to cover her troubled skin. Her eyes seem sleepy, but her gaze is direct. She’s beautiful, but in a rough, dangerous way. She looks like a tall, blond razor blade.

Angelina is already talking before she sits down, about Gone in 60 Seconds. She pauses just long enough to give a huge order to our waitress: steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn on the side and a salad. “This is, like, so not food to me. This isn’t the first thing today. I’ve been eating. I’m trying to put some weight on. That’s why this [the offending salad] feels like a waste of time.

“This has been a really tough time in my life,” she says, “so, getting nervous, I don’t eat much, even though I remind myself. And just, like, five pounds will look so different,” she continues. “When I was in the hospital with a friend who had an IV in her arm, I was like, maybe if you stick that in me, just actually inject pure protein, you know? I would love to have my figure back. I always felt like I didn’t have one.”

The Extremist

Angelina’s perception of herself is that she’s trying to be expressive. Other people think she’s a little destructive. “I wanted to go to a premiere with the Hell’s Angels,” she says, now stabbing at her gnarly looking steak, “But the press said, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ People have said to me, ‘You’re too outspoken.'”

“I’m trying to shake things up,” she says, “I don’t want to do something I’ve done before. I want to wear wigs and colored contacts and tattoos in movies so I look different. I want to have an accent, cause I think it’s important.”

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Angelina gets so into it, that when she talks about her characters, she bounces back and forth between “she” and “I.” This makes for great acting, but not for great living – especially if the person you’re playing is a pot of trouble, like Gia, or Lisa.

“I’m like the bad guy, but I really do feel that she’s right,” she says of her character. “Lisa’s just looking for people to be straight with her. She didn’t hold anything back. If she wanted to spit on somebody, she spit on somebody. She had no inhibitions and no feelings.”

In a strange parallel with Lisa, Angelina confides, “I’ve gotten in a lot of fights with people because I need to get a reaction.”

The Woman We Can’t Figure Out

Forty-five minutes and four bites of steak later, we head across the street to the Petersen Automotive Museum. A group of young girls recognize her and ask for autographs. It takes a while, because she wants to write something personal and different for each one of the girls: Call me the next time you want to skip science class – Angelina Jolie.

Angelina has a jones for kids, as in wanting one. She seems to be leaning toward adoption rather than giving birth because there are so many kids out there. There may also be a grain of doubt about the dependability of relationships. Her marriage to Jonny lasted three years. She’s most recently been linked with Timothy Hutton, her costar from Playing God, and the end of that relationship found her wondering what the definition of love is. But, surprisingly, not in a negative way.

“It should be a combination of thinking, ‘I love you but I just want to rip that apart and eat you,'” she says. “I just haven’t found that person to break through with. But I’ve just gotten signs. Certainly my husband and I were… it was great, kind of an honest experiment. Maybe some people don’t find another person, you know?”

“I don’t need to be with a person, but I do want to start a family. I mean, selfishly, it would make my life so much fuller, worth living. I’ll have to have inspections,” she says of the adoption possibility. “People have said to me, ‘You do the cover of Rolling Stone in a certain outfit [it was lingerie] and you talk about knives, the judge is going to see that. I’m the dark horse, so it’s like suddenly… But…” She slows down and frowns. The idea that there may be a price for being free, for being herself, seems to be tainting Angelina’s thoughts for the first time.

Okay, you’ve seen the pictures.

“Oh, …it’s – everything has become overwhelming,” she begins, over the phone two weeks later. “I did two heavy films – The Bone Collector and Girl, Interrupted – back to back, and I was emotionally wiped out. I thought I was going to take some time off, but I got the 60 Seconds script, and it looked fun. During filming, my divorce became final, so that was another thing.

“I had stress from these things, obviously, and I didn’t look well, my face broke out, I showed up on the set, and they said ‘You go home.’ Somehow it made a bunch of people very upset with me because they didn’t know what was going on. You suddenly think, here I am looking really skinny, and I can’t eat…’ I can now, I’m fine, I just went through an emotional time. But when you do that in this business, you realize the ugliness of what the worst in their eyes would be, that [people are] thinking that you’re sick. If in the future I ever was, this is how little people would help me.

“And it’s not this film – these people ended up being great to me. But it just made me yearn for a normal life.”

It’s strange to think that, even though Angelina will talk about almost anything, there are still rumors to be circulated. “This person asked me about cutting myself when they saw a scar,” she says. “I’m very open, but because of that, people think that they know everything about me, and actually they don’t know anything. I say things that other people might go through. That’s what artists should do – throw things out there and not be perfect and not have answers for anything and see if people understand.

“But this person made the cutting sound interesting, like it was something I do now. And then I met somebody who said they’d seen movies of mine and then showed me where they had cut themselves. I had to explain, first off, not to do that. But it made me really f**ing angry at the people who represent me in a way that would get that person to do that and show me. I don’t understand why people would want to use something so damaging. It’s like, let’s make me look ‘cool’ and worry a lot of people in my family.”

I feel guilty for saying that Angelina looked to pale and thin, just as I would feel stupid if I’d said she looked perfect. Ultimately, though, she doesn’t really care what ends up in this article.

“You just accept that you’re going to hear rumors about yourself. But I know the truth, and the people who love me know the truth. That’s all that really matters.

This article has been edited for The complete story appeared in Jane Magazine Jan.2000.

January 17, 2000 | Interview | this post contains affiliate links