There was a time when Angelina Jolie was really going to give up acting…right after Foxfire. She was trying to find characters with a certain strength and things going on, but she was always disappointed. Wallace was the first thing she did where she felt their ideas were better than hers” (Gerston 38). Identifying with a role, making an emotional connection between the plight of a character and personal events demonstrates a strong acting technique called method acting. Angelina Jolie has a “total fusion” into her roles that allow her to transform into that character.
Friends of Jolie admit that she tends to absorb herself in roles. Her strength as a performer lies in her ability to live her parts. It is apparent that Angelina Jolie s personal experiences and her ability to utilize method acting make her one of the best, most unique actresses today, as demonstrated in Hackers and Girl, Interrupted.
Angelina Jolie Voight was born June 4th, 1975 in Los Angeles, California.
Jolie, which means “pretty little girl” in French, is the daughter of two famous actors, John Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. She also has a brother, James Haven Voight. Jolie decided to use her middle name because she wanted to become famous on her own merit. “I love my father, but I am not him.” All of her accomplishments are quite extraordinary for someone who admits wanting to become a funeral director as a child. Jolie has an admitted affection towards death and macabre, and believes that “there s something comforting about death” and “the thought you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now” (www.
ajolie.com 1). She has several scars from “playing” with knives. After her marriage to her Hackers co-star Johnny Lee Miller fell through, she married a man familiar with divorce, Billy Bob Thornton. She now carries a vile of his blood around her neck. Normal may not be the most appropriate word to describe Angelina Jolie s personal life, but her acting makes it very hard not to adore her in some way, shape, or form.
The way Angelina Jolie went about her education may be a slight indication to where her talent derived from. Angelina Jolie graduated from Beverly Hills high a year and a half early. She enrolled in the Lee Strasburg Institute at age eleven. In 1997, Jolie attended night classes at NYU to study film. Her film debut was at seven years old in Lookin to Get Out. Since her film debut at age seven, she has appeared in seventeen films, including made for television movies. She has also acted in 5 student films for the UCLA School of Cinema, which were all directed by her brother (Gerston 39).
In Girl, Interrupted, Angelina Jolie s character Lisa is the rebel of the group throughout the film. The scene toward the end of the movie where Susanna Kaysen (Winona Rider) confronts Lisa in the basement exemplifies Angelina Jolie s ability to draw a viewer into a scene. Lisa is angry that Susanna is leaving the hospital, so she steals her journal and takes the rest of the patients down into the basement to read it to them. Once Susanna realizes what Lisa has done, she rushes down to the basement, only to discover that Lisa has already begun reading her journal aloud. Her innermost thoughts and feelings, not to mention her opinion and diagnosis of the other patients, were being revealed to them without her permission. Susanna becomes frantic, slipping into a rage and scattering about to find where Lisa has taken her journal. When she finally finds them, she tries to defend herself in saying that she didn t mean any of the comments being read by Lisa, but no one seems too comforted by her apologies. This propels Lisa s demand for Susanna to analyze her.
Susanna tries to refuse and even runs away, but is so annoyed by Lisa s constant antagonizing attitude that she gives in. This is the point where Angelina Jolie s incredible acting skills shine. Angelina Jolie s character Lisa is broken down by Susanna, allowing the viewer to see a softer, more sensitive, dramatic side of Lisa instead of her usual rebellious disposition throughout the movie. It allows the viewer to draw parallels of personal experience to Lisa s situation because for the most part Lisa was deprived of love and affection, therefore sought refuge by using people. By being conniving and sneaky she got her way until someone bold enough, Susanna in this case, broke down her actions which forced Lisa to deal with one of the hardest things to deal with, the truth. In the end, Susanna s analysis leads Lisa to believe she can escape her old self and become what society might characterize as “sane.” Jolie s ability to “be” her roles rather than just “play” them sets her apart from most actors/actresses. Her portrayal of Lisa in Girl, Interrupted makes the viewer question the term sanity as a whole. Angelina Jolie s character Lisa lets the viewer question the boundaries between confinement and freedom, friendship and betrayal, and madness and sanity.
Angelina Jolie employed method acting in this role. Lisa, Jolie s character in Girl, Interrupted, likes the attention she gets through her actions and enjoys people wondering about her mental status. Angelina Jolie herself is constantly under the microscope of the media and has often been criticized by decisions she s made, mostly personal. Many people have formed negative opinions toward Jolie because of her personal life, instead of judging her by her acting skills and accomplishments. In this way, Jolie was able to put herself in Lisa s position and may have used this opportunity to release frustrations with the media through Lisa.
The ability to be more than just a one dimensional actress and be versatile in the roles played and the characters portrayed is something Angelina Jolie possesses. It is clearly shown in Girl, Interrupted, but also in Jolie s first feature film, Hackers. She portrayed Kate “Acid Burn” Libby, the only girl who can lay claim to the status of elite hacker. Kate Libby is a strong-willed adolescent female who is the leader in the group of hackers, despite her sex. Once Kate and Dade Murphy (Johnny Lee Miller) meet each other they become instant enemies. This is where we find a classic love hate relationship: He loves her and she hates him. Kate has a competitive personality, and believes she is the best at what she does. When Dade challenges her to a hacking competition, it sends her competitive side into overdrive and forces her to make the deal with Dade. The competition finally ends with Dade winning because the guys felt that was the only way he d get a date. This scene captures Angelina Jolie in perfect form. This is one of the first movies to have a woman as a powerful figure, even though it may seem a bit childish. This role emphasizes a woman s ability to be powerful, intelligent, hard working, and diligent in a world full of men. Angelina Jolie has to play one character with many different degrees of personality.
Kate is depicted as a good-looking, intelligent female who does not seem she would be involved in a crime such as hacking. As we get to know Kate, Angelina Jolie must switch from the sweet and innocent girl she is made out to be, into a girl with a rebellious, edgy, the “world is mine”-type attitude. This is a task, which can not be rehearsed, for playing a character with many different dimensions of personality is a skill that can either be learned or naturally possessed. The ability of Angelina Jolie to carry this film through the somewhat juvenile plot shows the magnitude of her acting capabilities. It seems as though watching the movie numerous times only allows the viewer to realize the quality of Angelina Jolie s acting to a greater extent. Angelina Jolie s portrayal of Kate “Acid Burn” Libby in Hackers demonstrates her skill in being able to play an adolescent role in a somewhat infantile film, yet still make a lasting impression on a viewer due to her incredible acting skills.
This character portrayal may not be different from her own life, and may have been perfected through method acting. Kate Libby was the only female in her group and didn t mind being different. She used her actions to draw attention from other people and like the idea of standing out. Jolie is like this in her own life. She is very different from most actresses, and many of the things she chooses to do gets attention from the media, which makes people look at her differently. She was a young, up-andcoming actress at this time, but through this role she may have shown the world what was to come. Angelina Jolie s roles in Girl, Interrupted and Hackers are similar, yet very different. As Lisa in Girl, Interrupted she must play a dramatic role in which the viewer is able to draw parallels between Lisa s story and situation to their own lives. The question of sanity arises many times throughout the film, forcing the viewer to feel a certain sympathy for the girls. There are implications of life lessons regarding friendship, love, and even betrayal. Angelina Jolie plays Lisa, a character that is hard not to relate to and, at times, hard to comprehend. It is obvious that Angelina Jolie must have become” Lisa, because an actress who did not feel what Lisa felt, or act like Lisa acted, could not have done as fine of a job as she did. In Hackers, Jolie plays Kate “Acid Burn” Libby.
The only real evident similarity between Kate and Lisa, Angelina s character from Girl, Interrupted is the somewhat rebellious demeanor that both the characters possess. Kate is someone who is powerful and controlling, unlike Lisa who is powerless and controlled. The only real preparation Jolie must have made for this role was to act juvenile, but intelligent. The task of acting juvenile may have not been that hard for Jolie because it seems as though many of her actions are juvenile and, therefore, could have possibly helped her fit the role of Kate. That aspect of Kate s personality may have created havoc for any other actress, but not Angelina Jolie. According to these two films, Angelina is not in any danger of being “typecast.” She plays two vastly different roles that both required completely different character traits in order to be portrayed accurately. To go from playing a juvenile delinquent in a childish, comical role to a manipulative, conniving adolescent in a dramatic role requires an enormous amount of versatility. Her versatility in acting should give her many more opportunities to be in leading roles.
Movie criticism can make or break an actor/actress. In Hackers, “as it s stars, Miller and Jolie seem one-dimensional–except that, in their case, the effect is intentional. They re not characters, these two, they re heroic icons of the coming millennium–sleek, androgynous and insubstantial as ghosts” (Hinson 2). I completely agree with Hal Hinson s praise regarding Angelina Jolie s acting as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby in Hackers. When this movie was first released it was a supposed sneak peak into the world of the future. The computer crimes committed in the movie would not occur now due to the technological advances in our current society. However, watching it in the year 2001 gives an idea of what was considered to be futuristic. Kate represented the “millennium woman”, powerful and confident. This is not to say that women were not like that prior to this movie, however I believe this movie gave young adolescent girls a sense of superiority in regards to the former traits associated with women. In Girl, Interrupted, most of the patients are harmless, but Lisa (Angelina Jolie) a heartless, charismatic sociopath, delights in her destructive power. “Jolie brings the kind of combustible sexuality to the screen that our movies, in the age of Meg Ryan, have been missing for too long” (Gerston 39). As Susanna and Lisa become comrades, then enemies, Susanna becomes like a soldier fighting a secret war with herself, and through Lisa she plays out that war. I agree with Jill Gerston on her comment regarding Angelina Jolie. Jolie, along with her acting credentials, seems to draw audiences with her looks and reputation of sexual ambitiousness in her own life. This, although not directly related to her acting, is an integral characteristic she possesses in obtaining various types of roles.
Angelina Jolie possesses many characteristics which will aid her in her stay in Hollywood for quite a long time. Jolie s mind-blowing use of method acting, her personal experiences, and her willingness to “become” her role, all confirm the fact that Angelina Jolie is one of the best actresses in modern film today. Not only has she got the looks and the skill, but she has emerged as a symbol of a new generation of strong-willed , intelligent women. She continues to win the hearts of viewers and critics alike, and she is so talented that when she receives a role she becomes afraid of herself. “I must be very particular with the choice of my roles; I become like them” (Gerston 39). It is this quality that sets Angelina Jolie apart from many of the actresses in Hollywood. She, like others may be an actress for fame and fortune, but she is not one to just read a script and not get involved in the actual role. Jolie “becomes” her part which makes a character extremely more appealing than someone who is obviously not into the role. Angelina Jolie is only getting started. She represents the present and the future of acting.