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Though she made her screen debut as a child alongside her father Jon Voight in the 1982 film Lookin' to Get Out, Jolie's acting career began in earnest a decade later with the low-budget production Cyborg 2 (1993). Her first leading role in a major film was in Hackers (1995). She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted (1999). Jolie achieved wider fame after her portrayal of video game heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and since then has established herself as one of the best-known and highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. She has had her biggest commercial successes with the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) and the animated film Kung Fu Panda (2008).
Divorced from actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie currently lives with actor Brad Pitt, in a relationship that has attracted worldwide media attention. Jolie and Pitt have three adopted children, Maddox, Pax, and Zahara, as well as three biological children, Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne.
International success: 2001–present
At the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.Although highly regarded for her acting abilities, Jolie's films to date had often not appealed to a wide audience, but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) made her an international superstar. An adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider videogame, Jolie was required to learn a British accent and undergo extensive martial arts training to play the title role of Lara Croft. She was generally praised for her physical performance, but the movie generated mostly negative reviews. Slant Magazine commented, "Angelina Jolie was born to play Lara Croft but [director] Simon West makes her journey into a game of Frogger." The movie was an international success nonetheless, earning $275 million worldwide, and launched her global reputation as a female action star.
Jolie then starred opposite Antonio Banderas as the mail-order bride Julia Russell in Original Sin (2001), a thriller based on the novel Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich. The film was a major critical failure, with The New York Times noting, "The story plunges more precipitously than Ms. Jolie's neckline." In 2002, she played Lanie Kerrigan in Life or Something Like It, a film about an ambitious TV reporter who is told that she will die in a week. The film was poorly received by critics, though Jolie's performance received positive reviews. CNN's Paul Clinton wrote, "Jolie is excellent in her role. Despite some of the ludicrous plot points in the middle of the film, this Academy Award–winning actress is exceedingly believable in her journey towards self-discovery and the true meaning of fulfilling life."
Jolie reprised her role as Lara Croft in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life in 2003. The sequel, while not as lucrative as the original, earned $156 million at the international box-office. Later that year Jolie starred in Beyond Borders, a film about aid workers in Africa. Although reflecting Jolie's real-life interest in promoting humanitarian relief, the film was critically and financially unsuccessful. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Jolie, as she did in her Oscar-winning role in Girl, Interrupted, can bring electricity and believability to roles that have a reality she can understand. She can also, witness the Lara Croft films, do acknowledged cartoons. But the limbo of a hybrid character, a badly written cardboard person in a fly-infested, blood-and-guts world, completely defeats her."
With Brad Pitt at the Cannes Film Festival.In 2004, Jolie starred alongside Ethan Hawke in the thriller Taking Lives. She portrayed Illeana Scott, an FBI profiler summoned to help Montreal law enforcement hunt down a serial killer. The movie received mixed reviews and The Hollywood Reporter concluded, "Angelina Jolie plays a role that definitely feels like something she has already done, but she does add an unmistakable dash of excitement and glamour." She also provided the voice of Lola, an angelfish in the animated DreamWorks movie Shark Tale (2004) and she had a brief appearance in Kerry Conran's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), a science fiction adventure film shot with actors entirely in front of a bluescreen. Also in 2004, Jolie played Olympias in Alexander, Oliver Stone's biographical film about the life of Alexander the Great. The film failed domestically, with Stone attributing its poor reception to disapproval of the depiction of Alexander's bisexuality,but it succeeded internationally, with revenue of $139 million outside the United States.
Jolie's only movie in 2005 was the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The film, directed by Doug Liman, tells the story of a bored married couple who find out that they are both secret assassins. Jolie starred as Jane Smith opposite Brad Pitt. The film received mixed reviews, but was generally lauded for the chemistry between the two leads. The Star Tribune noted, "While the story feels haphazard, the movie gets by on gregarious charm, galloping energy and the stars' thermonuclear screen chemistry." The movie earned $478 million worldwide, one of the biggest hits of 2005.
She next appeared in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd (2006), a film about the early history of the CIA, as seen through the eyes of Edward Wilson, played by Matt Damon. Jolie played the supporting role of Margaret Russell, Wilson's neglected wife. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Jolie ages convincingly throughout, and is blithely unconcerned with how her brittle character is coming off in terms of audience sympathy."
Jolie as Christine Collins on the set of Changeling, November 2007In 2007, Jolie made her directorial debut with the documentary A Place in Time, which captures the life in 27 locations around the globe during a single week. The film was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and is intended to be distributed through the National Education Association, mainly in high schools. Jolie starred as Mariane Pearl in Michael Winterbottom's documentary-style drama A Mighty Heart (2007), about the kidnap and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. The picture is based on Mariane Pearl's memoirs A Mighty Heart and had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter described Jolie's performance as "well-measured and moving", played "with respect and a firm grasp on a difficult accent." The film earned her a fourth Golden Globe Award and a third Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Jolie also played Grendel's mother in Robert Zemeckis' animated epic Beowulf (2007) which was created through the motion capture technique.
Jolie co-starred alongside James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman in the 2008 action movie Wanted, an adaptation of a graphic novel by Mark Millar. The film received predominately favorable reviews and proved to be an international success, earning $342 million worldwide. She also provided the voice of Master Tigress in the DreamWorks animated movie Kung Fu Panda (2008). With revenue of $632 million internationally, it became her highest grossing film to date. The same year, Jolie played Christine Collins, the lead in Clint Eastwood's drama Changeling (2008), which had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. It is based on the true story of a woman in 1928 Los Angeles who is reunited with her kidnapped son—only to realize he is an impostor. Jolie received her second Academy Award nomination, and also was nominated for a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. The Chicago Tribune noted, "Jolie really shines in the calm before the storm, the scenes when one patronizing male authority figure after another belittles her at their peril."