Raised mostly by her mother after her parents divorced while she was still a baby, Jolie moved around a lot with her mother and brother. She also did a fair amount of traveling as a professional model, living in such places as London, New York, and Los Angeles before settling for a time in New York as a student at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and New York University, where she first started acting in theater productions. The fledgling actress soon moved on to film with a small role in 1993's Cyborg 2, followed in 1995 by her turn as a computer hacker in the more widely seen Hackers. The film gave her her first taste of recognition, as well as an introduction to Trainspotting's Jonny Lee Miller, to whom she was married for a short time.
After appearing in a number of mediocre films, Jolie finally hit it big in 1997 with her Golden Globe-winning performance as George Wallace's wife in the highly acclaimed TV movie George Wallace. The role, coupled with her Emmy-nominated performance in the title role of HBO's Gia, provided Jolie with a new level of professional respect and recognition. She was soon appearing on talk shows and in magazines, answering questions about everything from her multiple tattoos to her famous father to her brief marriage.
She was also netting roles in high-profile projects: In 1998 Jolie headlined an ensemble cast that included Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands, Anthony Edwards, Gillian Anderson, Ryan Phillippe, and Madeline Stowe in Playing By Heart. The following year, she was part of another high-voltage cast in Mike Newell's Pushing Tin, co-starring alongside John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett. Although the film was neither a critical nor a financial success, it did little to diminish the rapid ascent of the career of the actress, who was in hot demand for projects that would further elevate her already rising star. In 2000, Jolie's star received one of its greatest boosts to date when the actress won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a volatile mental patient in Girl, Interrupted. Later that year, her personal life also got a boost in the form of her April marriage to Billy Bob Thornton.
Onscreen, Jolie was hard to miss in 2000. She starred in a number of films, including the crime thriller Gone in Sixty Seconds, in which she co-starred as a car thief alongside Nicolas Cage, and Original Sin, a thriller that featured her as the bad-seed bride of a Cuban tycoon (Antonio Banderas). If she was hard to miss in 2000, Jolie was impossible to escape in 2001 with her turn as video-game adventuress Lara Croft in the long anticipated film adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider video-game franchise. Carrying on the tradition of video-game movies that are light on plot but heavy on the action, Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life (2003) scored with summer audiences and quickly shot to number one at the box office despite disparaging reviews citing an incoherent story line, unlike Life or Something Like It, the 2002 romantic comedy-drama that critics and audiences alike would rather not have seen.
On July 18th, 2002, Jolie filed for divorce from Thornton, claiming that their priorities no longer meshed after having adopted a Cambodian son, Maddox. Though the famously quirky couple were no longer, Angelina's film schedule remained hectic. In 2003 she would play a rich-girl-turned-humanitarian in Beyond Borders, while 2004 saw a host of parts for Jolie, including a role in Oliver Stone's Alexander, an epic biography of Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell, as well as a turn alongside fellow Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and a role as a tough FBI agent in the thriller Taking Lives. Finally, Jolie closed out the year by lending her voice to Dreamworks' animated kid-flick Shark Tale.
The Jolie-starring Mr. and Mrs. Smith proved one of Summer 2005's biggest money-makers, the actress's name fell on the lips of gossip-mongers for most of the year not for the film itself, but rather for Jolie's relationship with costar Brad Pitt, who she later married.
By mid-2006, Jolie - as an actress, personality, and sex symbol - claimed an almost matchless status in Hollywood popularity, rivaled only by Jennifer Aniston, ironically. That year saw Jolie claim a supporting role in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd, and announce her forthcoming role in Beowulf. By late 2007, talk had begun to swirl in the trades regarding Jolie's enlistment in a high-budget action franchise based on the life and adventures of U.S. intelligence operative Kathi Lynn Austin.
In 2007, her portrayal of Marianne Pearl in Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of A Mighty Heart earned her strong reviews and nominations for Best Actress from a number of organizations including the Screen Actors Guild. Although Oscar snubbed her for that performance, she landed in the big race the following year with her work in Clint Eastwood's The Changeling. As a mother searching for her kidnapped son, Jolie again garnered nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press, and the Screen Actors Guild, as well as securing her first Oscar nod since winning years earlier for Girl, Interrupted.
For her next several projects, Jolie kept things upbeat and intense, starring in action movies like Wanted, The Tourist, and most notably, 2010's Salt, in which Jolie's performance as the title character Evelyn Salt had many reviewers calling her the female James Bond. Jolie would also provide the voice of Tigress in the childrens' animated film Kung Fu Panda and its sequel, before taking on her next big hurdle: stepping behind the camera.
Jolie directed and produced the 2012 war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, a tragic love story that takes place during the Bosnian War. The film's uncompromising depiction of the war atrocities that marked the conflict caused some stir in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia, but her choices were largely celebrated by Bosnians, as well as most critics in the U.S. and Europe.
Jolie returned to acting in 2014, playing the title character in Disney's Maleficent, which would prove to Jolie's biggest live-action hit, passing the box office totals for Mr. & Mrs. Smith, taking in $600 million. She also continued to direct and produce films including Unbroken, First They Killed My Father, and By the Sea, and in 2019 she signed on to star in the Marvel movie The Eternals.