Angelina Jolie Against the Hollywood Grain

Angelina JolieHollywood has certainly captured the attention of fans worldwide and done so with seemingly bottomless bankrolls partnered with behind the scenes talent of producers and directors as well as camera talent of the likes of Angelina Jolie. The daughter of actor Jon Voight, she broke into the movie business at the age of seven with a part in the 1982 film Lookin’ to Get Out. Since then she has appeared in 43 additional movies. There are several aspects to her talent, but one of the rarest setting her apart from her silver screen colleagues is that she insists on doing much of her own stunt work, and she has the scars to prove it. Doing her own Hollywood stunts goes remarkably against the grain and against the advice of everyone around her, who by now after 32 years in the business, must realize that their warnings to Jolie fall upon deaf ears.

The 2014 Maleficent star has been a consistent Hollywood A-Lister since her career broke out in the movie Girl, Interrupted in 1999 and since then has commanded one of the industry’s highest actress salaries. Her ability to bring national attention to nearly any social issue, along with her monetary success, has her ranked by Forbes as the most powerful actress on the celebrity A-List. Spearheading her to this stature is Jolie’s strength of her own personal character and her willingness and temerity to dance to the beat of a different drummer, which in general is usually alright with Hollywood as long as they are playing the drums. The celebrity she is and the notoriety she has attained, has allowed her to explore in a very meaningful way, her desire to influence public sentiment related to social issues important to her in order to make a difference on a grand scale.

In 2001, another side of Jolie was awakened when she was making the film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on location in Cambodia. Witnessing firsthand the plight of refugees in this war-torn region, she became actively involved with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. She spent the next 10 years continuing humanitarian work in more than 30 countries. Part of that work was documented in her book, Notes from My Travels, published in 2003.

Within this period of time, in in 2001 she adopted the first of her children as a single mother.   Then in 2005 she became involved with fellow celebrity A-Lister, Brad Pitt, with whom she co-starred in the hit action film Mr. & Mrs. Smith  and started a blended family of three adopted children and three conceived with Pitt which include a set of twins. Only the first of her children was able to meet her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who died at the age of 56 from ovarian cancer in January 2007. It would later be medically determined that Jolie carried the BRCA-1 gene putting her at an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. Rather than take the chance and subject her children to a life without their mother, in February 2013 she proactively went forward with a preventive double mastectomy. That decision, undoubtedly not an easy one, only added to her persona as a woman of inner strength and power. In May 2013 she went public about her surgery in an effort to increase women’s awareness of their options.

While the Hollywood elite continue to capture the hearts and minds of fans across the globe with their fantastic movie roles, lucrative and arguably narcissistic lifestyles, one would be very hard pressed to make such an accusation of narcissism against Ms. Jolie, who obviously cares little about which way the Hollywood grain happens to be leaning and more about life’s bigger picture. Her personal and professional schedules remain busy and fans will be pleased to know that one of her recent roles as Evelyn Salt is in the planning stages to be brought back to the big screen in Salt 2.

By Mark Politi

US Magazine
Forbes 2
CBS News
NY Times

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