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The Untold Truth Of Angelina Jolie

Born on June 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, California, Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous movie stars of the past two decades, her simultaneously statuesque and outlandish celebrity persona harking back to the golden age of Hollywood stardom. Jolie's first role was at age 5 with a small part in Hal Ashby's film "Lookin' to Get Out" — which also starred her father, actor Jon Voight — though she didn't start acting in earnest until about a decade later. Her breakthrough role was in the HBO film "Gia," in which she played the titular supermodel who was one of the first well-known women to contract AIDS in the 1980s. Since then she has starred in dozens of films, from popcorn action flicks like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" to dark dramas like "Girl, Interrupted," for which she won an Oscar.

In addition to being an actress, Jolie is also a director, helming five films during her career (one of which, "By The Sea," she also starred in). Though she got her start in indie films like "Hackers" and "Foxfire," she has also ventured into franchise territory, starring in two of Disney's "Maleficent" movies and, more recently, Marvel's "Eternals." Though Jolie is frequently noted for her relationship with (now ex-) husband Brad Pitt and their six children, her life has been far more complicated than the tabloids might have led you to believe. Read on to find out some of the most compelling and lesser-known facts about Jolie's fascinating life.

She's authored or co-authored two books

Though Angelina Jolie is most well-known for her acting chops and old-Hollywood glamour, she's also published two books. The first was "Notes From My Travels" in 2003. The book is filled with journal entries that Jolie composed while aiding in humanitarian relief efforts in countries like Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Cambodia. "Notes" was well-received by those familiar with humanitarian work, such as scientist Jane Goodall, who wrote, "I was deeply moved by her descriptions of individual refugees struggling to live with dignity and hope, and found her personal commitment to be an inspiration."

Her second book — "Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth," co-authored by human rights lawyer Geraldine Van Bueren and published in 2021 — is similarly humanitarian-focused. As Simon Hattenstone explains in The Guardian, "The book lays out all the rights children have under the UN convention on the rights of the child, ratified by 196 countries, explains how to claim them and offers advice from young people who have done." The United States was one of the few countries that hadn't ratified these rights as of the book's publication, one of the shocking facts that inspired Jolie to write it in the first place. She was also spurred to action after facing her own legal difficulties in the custody battle for her children.

In addition to these books, Jolie has written articles in several prestigious publications. In April 2020, she wrote an article for Time detailing how important it is to protect children from the pandemic. She's also written two opinion pieces in The New York Times, one about her decision to have a double mastectomy and one about her late mother

Jolie is a special envoy for the UN

Continuing the humanitarian work that inspired her 2003 book, Angelina Jolie in 2012 assumed the role of Special Envoy for the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Prior to this position, Jolie served as a goodwill ambassador for the UN, a responsibility she first took on all the way back in 2001. During her time working for the UN, Jolie has completed over 60 field missions around the world, including in war zones such as Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Though Jolie hasn't historically had much of a social media presence, she joined Instagram in August 2021 in order to share the humanitarian work she does with the UN, especially as it relates to the rights of children worldwide. Her bio reads, "Mom, filmmaker, Special Envoy for UN @refugees" (the @refugees tag directs users to the UNHCR Instagram page), and she posts about issues such as climate change, displacement, and domestic violence.

She is an honorary dame

Famous as Jolie may be for her acting or her high-profile relationships, she has certainly been recognized for her humanitarian efforts as well. In 2014, Jolie was made an honorary dame by The Queen herself in recognition of her work to end sexual violence in war zones. Because she is not a British citizen, she cannot be made an actual dame — a designation that is marked by the initials "DBE" after someone's name — and she instead received an honor called the Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. Quite a mouthful, but such a designation can be marked by the letters "DCMG" at the end of her name if she ever wishes to use this title.

If you're still confused, we'll explain it further. Basically, the "DCMG" honor is bestowed by The Crown upon foreign citizens who engage in work that aids in British foreign policy efforts. British Damehood, on the other hand, is awarded to women who have achieved notable success in their respective fields (Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in the field of acting, for example). Jolie first received the award in June 2014 while she was co-chairing a global summit called the End Sexual Violence in Conflict (ESVC) in London.

She's starred in several films with her older brother

Jolie's older brother James Haven was also an actor and director in his youth. In fact, the younger sibling starred in five of her brother's student films while she was a teenager and he was attending USC. Unfortunately, these films aren't publicly available, but if you want to see whether her acting chops were apparent from a young age (they were), you can watch two short films she starred in at age 18, made by director Steven Shainberg.

Despite this early filmmaking connection they share, the sibling duo is more well known for their antics at the 2000 Oscars. While accepting her award that evening for her role in 1999's "Girl, Interrupted," Jolie excitedly told the audience that she was "so in love with my brother right now." Later that evening they kissed on the lips, which proved to be one step too far for some spectators who found the display unnerving.

Regardless of pop culture discomfort, Jolie has spoken at length about how much she has leaned on her brother throughout the struggles and triumphs of her life. Years after the infamous awards ceremony, Haven became a nanny for Jolie's six kids following her divorce from Brad Pitt — though he only lasted a few months, supposedly because he found the job exhausting and she elected to give him a break.

Angelina Jolie was estranged from her father, actor Jon Voight

Much has been written about Angelina Jolie's relationship with her father, Jon Voight, but Jolie herself has said very little about it. In an op-ed for The New York Times about her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who died of ovarian cancer in 2007, Jolie spoke about the effect it had on their family when her father had an affair and left them. "Her dreams of being an actor faded as she found herself, at the age of 26, raising two children with a famous ex who would cast a long shadow on her life," she writes.

This event precipitated a period of estrangement between Jolie and her father, a period that apparently ended because of Jolie's children. Of their renewed relationship, Jolie told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017 that "Jon and I have gotten to know each other — through grandchildren now." Speaking with Vanity Fair, Jolie said Voight knew her children "needed their grandfather" following her divorce from Brad Pitt in 2016. Voight has said he "prays" for Pitt following allegations about his alcoholism and reported domestic abuse. 

She has a pilot's license

We've learned thus far that Jolie has many talents, but one of her numerous skills is much lesser-known. After a year of taking flying lessons, Jolie received her pilot's license in 2004. The following year, she bought a surprisingly nondescript plane for herself: a Cirrus SR22-G2, which is a single-engine model that seats four passengers and is known for its safety. (In other words, you likely won't see Jolie flying her own private jet anytime soon, even though she could probably afford it.)

The reasons she got her pilot's license are twofold. First, she did it as a gift for her eldest son Maddox, who loved planes since he was a small child. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Jolie recalls seeing how much Maddox loved planes even as a one-year-old, so she promised him she would get her license by the time he was two. It took her slightly longer than this to become a pilot, but she made it happen before his third birthday.

Jolie has also spoken about how being a pilot could help aid in her humanitarian work. Speaking to Vogue in 2004, she declared, "My dream is to retire in a few years and take six months and deliver and help people get from one place to another and just loan out service as a pilot and be with my kids."

She once spent an entire photoshoot covered in bees

In the spring of 2021, Angelina Jolie posed for a memorable photoshoot with National Geographic. As a means to bring awareness to World Bee Day and the need to protect the world's bee population, Jolie spent the day with her face and body covered in bees in order to snap a very memorable photo for the story. In order to prepare for the photoshoot, Jolie couldn't shower for three days beforehand because different soaps or shampoos might cause the bees to confuse her for a flower. Jolie also had to wipe herself with a special pheromone and put plugs in her nose and ears so they wouldn't climb in.

As part of her work with the UN, Jolie is helping spearhead a program to train women beekeepers in "25 UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves" around the world, with the intention to grow and protect bee populations along with preserving local beekeeping practices. Jolie herself was trained in beekeeping as part of her involvement in the program.

Jolie did have a necklace with Billy Bob Thornton's blood in it

One of the most famous headlines about Jolie in the early 2000s involved her then-husband Billy Bob Thornton, whom she was married to from 2000 to 2003. The story revolved around the reported notion that they wore vials of each other's blood around their necks. Both Thornton and Jolie have said these reports were blown out of proportion, however.

Thornton has clarified that they weren't "buckets of blood," but rather lockets with a small smear of blood from a pinprick in them. Jolie told Entertainment Weekly that "it was like a flower press" — a far cry from what you might have assumed from the sensationalist reporting. Nonetheless, their antics seem to have inspired others through the years, such as Machine Gun Kelly, who has claimed he wears Megan Fox's blood around his neck.

The blood necklaces were not the only headline-worthy revelations about Jolie and Thornton's marriage. Thornton is 19 years older than Jolie, and they had a shotgun wedding in Vegas – all the conditions for a perfect tabloid storm. As if that weren't enough, Thornton was apparently still dating Laura Dern at the time and he left for Vegas to marry Jolie without telling Dern anything. Jolie also got a very prominent tattoo on her left arm that said "Billy Bob," which she has since had removed. The pair was also very well known for their very public displays of affection during this time. 

Angelina Jolie has at least 17 tattoos

Though her most famous tattoo may have been the aforementioned Billy Bob Thornton one, Jolie has gotten many tattoos since then. Jolie got her Billy Bob tattoo removed after their divorce in 2003, and in its place, her arm now features the coordinates at which her six children were born, along with ex-husband Brad Pitt's birthplace. One of her largest tattoos is a Bengal tiger that she got inked on her back in order to represent her Cambodian citizenship, which she received in 2005. (Her eldest son Maddox was adopted from Cambodia.)

On the base of her neck, she has a tattoo that says "Know Your Rights," which is the title of a song by her favorite band, The Clash, as well as the title of her 2021 book about children's rights. She has three tattoos on her back that were done in an ancient Thai method that involves attaching a surgical needle to a large steel rod. These tattoos were done by ex-monk Ajarn Noo Kanpai while Jolie was in Cambodia filming "First They Killed My Father." Jolie also has a large black cross on her hip to cover up a dragon tattoo she got in Amsterdam. Next to the cross is the phrase 'quod me nutrut me destruit," which means "what nourishes me, destroys me." She got this tattoo the day before marrying her first husband, Johnny Lee Miller, in 1995.

She 'would have married' former girlfriend Jenny Shimizu

The indie film "Foxfire" was directed by Annette Haywood-Carter and sees Jolie playing a bad-girl high schooler in a small town. It was on the set of this 1996 film that Angelina Jolie met Jenny Shimizu, an actress and model whom she said she fell in love with the "first second" she saw her, according to an interview in Girlfriends magazine (via InStyle). Jolie said that it was after meeting Shimizu that she realized she could be attracted to any gender. She further clarified her sexual orientation in 2003, telling Barbara Walters she is "a very sexual person who loves who she loves, whatever sex they may be."

According to Shimizu, Jolie was very honest about her feelings and took both her and future husband Johnny Lee Miller out to dinner one night, explaining that she was in love with them both. Not one to be outdone on the front of sexual antics, Shimizu has claimed that she was also sleeping with Madonna at the same time as her affair with Jolie. Shimizu said that she was essentially Madonna's "sex slave" at this time and that the superstar would book her on flights across the world whenever she wanted a booty call. Shimizu eventually got married in 2014 to Michelle Harper, a brand consultant.

She starred in several music videos early in her career

It's not unusual for famous actors to have gotten their start in music videos. You might recall, for example, that Courteney Cox had a starring role in Bruce Springsteen's video for "Dancing in the Dark" years before she was on "Friends," or that Alicia Silverstone starred in three Aerosmith videos in the mid-'90s prior to her lead role in "Clueless." Angelina Jolie also hopped on this trend in the 1990s before she was launched into superstardom.

Jolie shot her first video at 16 years old for Italian singer Antonello Venditti's song "Alta Marea," which is a cover of "Don't Dream It's Over." She was also supposedly featured in Lenny Kravitz's video for his song "Stand By My Woman" that same year, but if she was, her role in the video seems to have been cut.

In the 1994 Lemonheads video for "It's About Time," a young Jolie plays a girl that lead singer Evan Dando is cheating on his girlfriend with. Arguably her most high-profile music video role came in the video for Meat Loaf's song "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through," also in 1994: Jolie plays a runaway teen, and her father is played by Meat Loaf himself. The video was directed by Michael Bay of the "Transformers" franchise. In 1997 she starred in "Anybody Seen My Baby" by The Rolling Stones, and after her career had really taken off, she appeared in one more music video, Korn's "Did My Time," in 2003.

Angelina Jolie is a fan of method acting

At age 11, Angelina Jolie began taking classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, whose program is known for its focus on method acting. Though Russian director Constantin Stanislavski is generally recognized as the creator of the "method acting" technique, Lee Strasberg, who died in 1982, was one of the first people to practice and teach it in the United States. Method acting is probably most well-known by laypeople as the idea of an actor staying in character day in and day out, but the Strasberg Theatre Institute defines it more broadly, suggesting that it involves an actor infusing the roles they play with their own lives and experiences.

Though Strasberg was no longer living when Angelina was taking classes, her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, actually studied with Strasberg himself as a young actress prior to her divorce from Jon Voight. Despite never meeting the legend himself, Jolie clearly took her training very seriously. During the filming of "Gia," she got so into the role that she wouldn't speak to husband Johnny Lee Miller for the entirety of the shoot. She reportedly told Miller: "I'm alone; I'm dying; I'm gay; I'm not going to see you for weeks." She also remained aloof from her castmates while filming "Girl, Interrupted," which co-star Winona Ryder took as an example of her dedication to remaining in character. Jolie later won her first Oscar for the role, so it seems to have worked.