Angelina Jolie has undergone a stunning transformation. With her piercing blue eyes, pillowy plump lips, and unfathomably high cheek bones, there’s no denying that she’s one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood. She’s also one of the most talented; as an actress, she’s won accolades and awards for her varied and commendable portrayals.
Throughout Jolie’s years in the spotlight, she’s also been celebrated for her sweeping humanitarian efforts, and her passion for helping the helpless. What’s more, with six kids to raise, she’s worked to prioritize her family and stay focused on what really matters (via Insider).
Still, Jolie is a human being, and she has some faults. She’s made mistakes, stirred up scandal, and served up enough edge to last a lifetime. But by the same token, Jolie has grown throughout her well-scrutinized career. From a young girl in her famous father’s shadow to a rebellious young ingenue to a sexy vixen to a sophisticated, well-spoken woman of opinion, Jolie has made her mark while evolving into the powerhouse person she is today. Want to know about her history, and the path that led her to success? This is the stunning transformation of Angelina Jolie.
Angelina Jolie was born into stardom, but had a modest upbringing
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; Angelina Jolie has acting in her DNA. Born in Los Angeles in 1975, the bombshell actress is the daughter of Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand (via Biography).
When Bertrand was growing up, she didn’t have the Hollywood lifestyle one would expect. "My mother was an angel, a Catholic schoolgirl raised in a Chicago bowling alley," Jolie reminisced during an interview with Parade. "She could bowl like nobody’s business. My grandparents ran the bar and bowling alley." That sounds pretty normal to us.
When Jolie’s mother was just 17 years old, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she met Jolie’s father. And while things were good for a while, it was after they divorced (while Jolie was just a baby) that things got meager. "We never owned a home," Jolie continued. "We moved from small apartments to even smaller ones. We were always conscious of money."
Fortunately, Jolie’s famous father provided some financial support, which helped Jolie study acting and modeling as a child.
Angelina Jolie had her first big-screen role when she was just 6 years old
While Angelina Jolie didn’t have a traditional relationship with her father as a child, she did get a glimpse at his life in the spotlight, occasionally even participating in the pageantry. In 1982, Jolie had a role in Voight’s film Lookin’ to Get Out (via IMDb). She also accompanied her dad to the 1986 Academy Awards when he was nominated for an Oscar — of course, it wouldn’t be her last time on that iconic red carpet (via Entertainment Tonight).
Jolie eventually emerged as an actress in her own right, starring in the cult-favorite, but also highly laughable film Cyborg 2 (via IMDb). She was just 17 when she snagged the role, and her age created a few hiccups. To that end, Jolie was legally emancipated so her age wouldn’t affect filming or raise labor law red flags. The film’s director, Michael Schroeder, told Hollywood Gothique that "she was the most mature 17-year-old [he’d] ever met." What’s more, Jolie stood out among the throngs of women who auditioned. "When this girl came in, I knew she had what it takes," he added.
Angelina Jolie has admitted to having self-destructive behavior throughout her formative years
In many ways, Angelina Jolie has become more private throughout the duration of her time in the media spotlight. But the actress has opened up in the past about her early career and personal struggles. "It’s not a secret that I went through a self-destructive period, self-searching, looking for the extremities," she revealed in an interview with Parade. "I used to cut myself or jump out of airplanes, trying to find something new to push up against because sometimes everything else felt too easy." She added that she often felt caged in, and like she had "too much energy for the room I was in."
Jolie admitted that this behavior may have been the motivation for some of her famous visible (and hidden) tattoos. But she doesn’t seem to regret her permanent ink. In the aforementioned interview, she showed off an inscription on her arm, and explained the meaning of the important tattoo. "[It’s] the wild heart caged," she added. "I unlocked my cage years ago." She added that she hopes her children can do the same.
Angelina Jolie’s relationship with her father has remained strained throughout the years
Angelina Jolie’s relationship with her father has been a veritable rollercoaster of highs, lows, and complicated twists. There have been times of estrangement and moments of struggle, but the dad-daughter duo always seem to come back together.
In 2002, Voight told Access Hollywood that his daughter had "mental problems." In a statement to Access Hollywood, Jolie fired back. "I don’t want to make public the reasons for my bad relationship with my father," she explained. "After all these years, I have determined that it is not healthy for me to be around my father" (via E! News).
However, it seems the two eventually made amends. In 2017, Jolie told Vanity Fair that Voight had become the grandfather her children needed. "He knows kind of the rule — don’t make them play with you," she shared. "Just be a cool grandpa who’s creative, and hang out and tell stories and read a book in the library."
Angelina Jolie got recognition after starring in the biopic Gia
While Angelina Jolie had some early success in the 1995 film Hackers (via IMDb), it was her HBO original biopic portrayal of bad-girl model Gia Carangi — who struggled with heroin and contracted HIV in the early ’80s — that catapulted her to stardom. As noted by a retrospective article on HBO, "what we see in Jolie’s Gia feels like an early cousin of her later Oscar-winning and show-stealing role in Girl, Interrupted."
Nevertheless, Jolie was initially hesitant to take the role; she was worried that she and Gia were too similar. "I figured this would either be a purge of all my demons, or it was gonna really mess with me," she explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I hate heroin because I have been fascinated with it. I’m not immune, but I won’t do it now, at all, because luckily I’ve found something that replaces that high, which is my work.″ Moreover, she noted that she and the late model both desired life to be "deep and crazy and full of raw energy" (via AP News).
Angelina Jolie was married to Jonny Lee Miller at 21
Angelina Jolie married her Hackers co-star Jonny Lee Miller in 1996 at the age of 21. During the small civil ceremony, Jolie wore black rubber pants and a T-shirt featuring her beloved’s name written in her own blood, as reported by Brides. Of this eclectic fashion choice, Jolie told the The New York Times: "It’s your husband. You’re about to marry him… You can sacrifice a little to make it really special."
While the two divorced in 1999, Jolie and Miller have nothing but nice things to say about each other. When asked by BuzzFeed about her fondest memories of filming Hackers, Jolie replied that is was definitely falling in love. "That’s where I met Jonny, who is still a great friend," she shared. "So I think of him when I think of that. Although, I’m sure the movie looks so ancient now, but we had a lot of fun making it."
Angelina Jolie made waves and won awards for her work in Girl Interrupted
In the late ’90s, Angelina Jolie was certainly emerging as the new Hollywood It girl to watch; however, it wasn’t until her supporting role in 1999’s Girl, Interrupted with Winona Rider that she solidified her place as a superstar destined for mega fame (via IMDb). Per her speech transcript, when she won the Oscar for best supporting actress in a film for (her portrayal of an psych hospital patient), Jolie thanked her co-stars, her parents, and her brother, who she walked the red carpet with and memorably (passionately) kissed on the lips (via InStyle).
Awkward family smooches aside, Jolie defended her character when asked about playing someone with mental illness on screen. "I really, genuinely thought I was the only character who was sane in the entire film. And if you watch it closely, that’s exactly how I was playing it," she explained in an interview with BuzzFeed. "I was actually almost upset when people said I was so good at playing insane because I never thought she was insane. She was just incredibly honest, which I guess, made her seem crazy."
Angelina Jolie evolved during her marriage to Billy Bob Thorton
And there were the Billy Bob Thorton years. Angelina Jolie and Thorton met on the set of the film Pushing Tin in 1999 — and just a few months later, the two eloped in Las Vegas, as reported by Brides. Their union was, well, interesting to put it mildly. As noted by Vanity Fair, the two wore vials of each other’s blood around their respective necks. Additionally, Thorton once eagerly told paparazzi that they had just "[bleeped] in the limo on the way to the show."
Still, while Jolie and Thornton’s mutual attraction and magnetism was evident, they both admitted to drifting apart. "We met as two people who had been through pain and addiction," Jolie explained. "What went wrong, or not even wrong, but what wasn’t meant to be." Jolie elaborated on her personal transformation at the time, which was also a factor. "I went through a change in my life and started paying more attention to the news and learning about other countries and becoming more politically active."
Jolie and Thornton split in 2002 shortly after Jolie adopted her first son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt.
As Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie discovered her true strength
While Angelina Jolie’s work in films was highly regarded, she emerged as a box office leading lady in the 2001 film Tomb Radar, playing the iconic role of Lara Croft. And while it certainly was a good career move, Jolie had some initial doubts about accepting the gig. She told Cinema that she was skeptical. "I was flattered, but I thought it was ridiculous," she revealed. "I don’t like video games."
Her ex-husband Jonny Lee Miller did, though; she’d observe him playing and think "Oh, look at her breasts." Fortunately, Jolie was persuaded after seeing that there was actual substance to the film’s character.
Still, that wasn’t Jolie’s only challenge, as getting into shape for the film was a serious job. "It was two and a half months of tough training," she continued. "They had me on bunjis. I’m dog sledding. They had me up at seven each morning and handed me a protein shake." Fortunately, Jolie said she enjoyed the extreme training because she’s an extreme person, and that eagerness was evident in her stunts. "I’ve always been ridiculously fearless," she added. "I feel alive when I’m afraid."
In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Angelina Jolie found a hit and a future husband
Few famous couples have stirred up as much drama as Brangelina. Angelina Jolie met Brad Pitt met on set of their film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston (via Glamour). Pitt and Aniston divorced in 2005, and just a few months later, Jolie and Pitt were featured in a W magazine photo shoot entitled "Domestic Bliss." They also took a trip to Ethiopia, where Jolie adopted her daughter, Zahara Jolie-Pitt.
Then in 2006, Jolie gave birth to Pitt’s daughter, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt; in 2007, they adopted a toddler from Vietnam, and in July of 2008, Jolie gave birth to Pitt’s twins. Of life with six children, Jolie told People, "it is chaos, but we are managing it and having a wonderful time."
Jolie and Pitt officially married in 2014, but it wouldn’t be happily ever after, though. Jolie filed for divorced in 2016, as reported by People. "I felt a deep and genuine sadness," she told Madame Figaro at the time. Fortunately, Jolie had good perspective. "All these things…remind you of how lucky you are of being alive," she added.
Angelina Jolie has been named the highest paid actress in Hollywood more than once
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Angelina Jolie is worth a cool $120 million — pretty impressive. Her movies certainly continue to be the biggest contribution to her cushy bank account. For example, Jolie’s 2014 hit film Maleficent grossed a whopping $758,410,378 worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), so of course, it makes sense that the actress who consistently brings in big money gets a large piece of the pie.
Jolie also earns income from her work as a producer and director, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter. What’s more, Jolie has cashed in with lucrative advertising endorsements, including a hefty $10 million dollar deal with Louis Vuitton.
In 2020, Forbes ranked Jolie as the second highest-paid actress in Hollywood, noting that her largest pay day would be from a leading lady role in Marvel’s film, The Eternals. Jolie has enjoyed being named on that list for years, as noted by CNN.
Angelina Jolie didn’t anticipate becoming a mother, but her six children are her whole world
With six biological and adopted children, you might assume that Angelina Jolie always dreamed about becoming a mom and having a large family. But, the truth is the actress and humanitarian didn’t see herself as a natural born nurturer, though she remembers when all of that changed. "I remember the decision to become a parent," she wrote in an editorial in Time. "It wasn’t hard to dedicate myself to someone and something greater than my life." She added that what was difficult was becoming the person who had "to make sure everything was okay."
And even as Jolie struggled in the aftermath of her messy divorce from Brad Pitt, she maintained her commitment to family. She told People that "as a mother you also have a responsibility first and foremost towards the kids. They are going through their formative years and everything else comes second to that."
Angelina Jolie’s work as a humanitarian has given her purpose and meaning beyond fame
As a Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie has seen her share of injustices; however, she remains driven in her efforts to help eradicate the wrongs of the world. Jolie talked to Vogue about her passion for humanity. "I see all people as equal. I see the abuse and suffering and I cannot stand by," she shared. "People are fleeing gas attacks, rape, female genital mutilation, beatings, persecution, murder." She added that people aren’t fleeing just to get a leg up — it truly is life or death out there in many cases.
What’s more, Jolie explained that it’s the people she’s met along the way that have left the most meaningful mark on her heart. She even referred to the refugees she’s helped as mentors. "I remember one of my first field missions, in Sierra Leone," she continued. "There was an amazing grandmother there, looking after her orphaned grandkids, who pulled me up and told me not to cry but to help." It’s not surprising that the memory has stuck with her.
Angelina Jolie went public with a preventative double mastectomy
"My body has been through a lot over the past decade… and I have both the visible and invisible scars to show for it," Angelina Jolie told Harper’s Bazaar in 2019. Indeed, while the actress was, in part, alluding to her less-than-congenial divorce from Brad Pitt, she was also speaking about the painful medical decisions she’s made.
In 2013, Jolie underwent a double mastectomy and other related procedures, after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene, and that she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. What’s more, after recovering, Jolie wrote an op-ed about the experience in The New York Times to inspire other women to be proactive about their health. "I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," she revealed. "Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness."
Jolie also has learned valuable lessons while dealing proactively with her health. "Life comes with many challenges," she continued. "The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."