Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight Give Each Other Acting Tips
Joe Buck’s beautiful daughter? Angelina Jolie is actually the offspring of Jon Voight, but had the corn-fed hustler he played in Midnight Cowboy spawned a child, there’s no doubt she would have been as luscious and savvy as Jolie.
The lissome 22-year-old actress from last year’s little-seen Foxfire is getting another crack at stardom with the recently released Disney thriller Playing God, in which she is a moll with a hidden agenda. She also stars in May’s Texan saga, True Women (CBS), and appears in August’s George Wallace biopic, Wallace (TNT), plus three more upcoming movies: Hell’s Kitchen, Mohave Moon, and HBO’s Gia. With Father’s Day upon us, we didn’t have to look far for an interviewer. Jolie was in New York; Dad was in Toronto.
JON VOIGHT: This is a momentous occasion for me, because the last public conversation we had was when you were born. You don’t remember it, but when you emerged from your mother’s womb, I picked you up, held you in my hand, and looked at your face. You had your finger by the side of your cheek, and you looked very, very wise, like my best old friend. I started to tell you how your mom [actress Marcheline Bertrand] and I were so happy to finally have you here, and that we were going to take great care of you and watch for all those signs of who you were and how we could help you achieve all that wonderful potential God gave you. Your mom and I made that pledge and everyone in the room started crying. But we weren’t crying, we were rapt in each other’s gaze.
ANGELINA JOLIE: [laughs]
VOIGHT: I’m delighted to have had these 22 years between then and now to watch you grow. I’ve always wondered about all the energy you’ve always had, how it was going to find a home, and what you would do with it. And from the beginning, there were signals along the way. I remember you had a distinctly original approach to an early role you played, a role that was meant for a man—Mr. Wagner in Room Service.
JOLIE: I thought, You know which character I want to audition for? The big, fat 40-year-old German man—that’s the part for me.
VOIGHT: How old were you then?
JOLIE: I was at the Strasberg Institute. It was my second time there, so I must have been 15.
VOIGHT: And when you put on that German accent and you were walking around as Frau Wagner—
JOLIE: This dominatrix.
VOIGHT: I was a little shocked. But the shock came from the realization that, Oh my God, she’s just like me. She’ll take these crazy parts and be thrilled that she can make people chuckle or whatever. And there was other signals that you’d want to be an actor. Do you remember what some of them were?
JOLIE: God, my earliest memories are of my brother, Jamie—your son—pointing the home video camera at me and saying, “C’mon, Ange, give us a show!” Neither you or Mom ever said, “Be quiet! Stop talking!” I remember you looking me in the eye and asking, “What are you thinking? What are you feeling?” That’s what I do in my job now—I say. “OK, how do I feel about this?” And I immediately know, because that’s how I grew up.
VOIGHT: You have a very strong, specific presence on screen. I think it’s a presence that will always make a difference, storywise.
JOLIE: I have a certain energy, yeah, and it’s either needed or it’s definitely not needed. I know that I can stick out like a sore thumb, and there are some women I’m not ready to play. I’m curious what you’ll think of some of the things I’ve done recently.
VOIGHT: First of all, you have, Playing God.
JOLIE: That was very rock-‘n’-roll and fun and loud and say-what-you-want-to-say, dress wild and love wild—you know that fantasy. I really allowed myself to get into that world. Being the age am, I sometimes feel like a punk kid walking onto certain sets, but I didn’t this time. I felt very much a woman.
VOIGHT: You have a relationship with these three young lions—your husband, Jonny [Lee Miller], and his friends Ewan McGregor and Jude Law. Knowing these British fellas, do you see any differences in the way they approach their work compared with American actors like yourself?
JOLIE: Sure, I see differences, but a lot of similarities too. Jonny and I work differently, but we both try to take a certain moral high ground when we’re questioning what the other is doing. As a young woman, there are parts I’ll look at that may not be in the best projects, but I’m starting out in this business and trying to figure out how I can make it work.
VOIGHT: And Jonny gets into that with you?
JOLIE: Yeah, he does, but he’s been blessed to have been sent some great projects that don’t need to be fixed as much. I’m having to do a lot to keep my clothes on and not be cast in girlfriend roles. Some women will say, “I don’t want to be a man—I want the opportunities I can get as a woman.” Women have a certain sexuality, and I think their bodies are beautiful and I’m not embarrassed to explore that in a film. But there are things you get offered that are vulgar and violent—just like there’s a side of me that’s vulgar and violent.
VOIGHT: Sometimes, to present the truth, you have to play a vulgar or violent character.
JOLIE: Yes, although in the films I’ve done recently, I’ve been learning a little more about the side of myself that enjoys being a light. I remember when I used to dress in all black and you’d say, “Just be pretty, hold your head up, be proud. Be a pleasant person and don’t cover yourself so much with all your darkness, your need to be a little crazy.” Now, I have nothing against anything I’ve been in before, because I love all sides of me, but I have been experimenting more with that lovely woman side. In this age of feminism, I would hate for the whole gentlemen and ladies thing to be lost.
VOIGHT: I have no doubt that your generation will sort that out. Anyway, I’m excited that you’re as happy with your work as I am with mine right now. I’m happy to be going from one challenge to the next, although I must say, in the middle of a role, I always get to a point where I have anxiety that I’m not quite going to solve it.
JOLIE: I’m feeling that on Hell’s Kitchen, the film I’m shooting here in New York right now. It’s a scary thing when you put yourself out there and make strong choices as a character.
VOIGHT: You had a nice little experience with your brother—he took you to the hospital when you cut your hand on set.
JOLIE: Jamie was just great. I saw how he would be as a dad or husband. He was so cool under pressure—held my other hand and got me a lollipop and kept making jokes. I said, “So, how do you like your first day in New York with your sister?” He said, “Well, you’ve never dull.”
VOIGHT: What do you do when you’re not working?
JOLIE: I find it hard, so I usually find a way to put myself back to work—I’ll work with Tom [Bower, Jolie’s partner in her theater company] on a play; I’ll read or write. And I think it’s important, in between projects, for me to sit down with who I’ve just become and allow her to continue to evolve and find a home inside me before I go and become somebody else. But I think I also need to learn to relax and not prepare too much, just enjoy life. I notice that my characters go out to dinner and have fun and take these great trips, but I spend so much time on their lives, I don’t have much of a personal life of my own. I have to sort of remember to fill out that little notebook on me.
VOIGHT: OK, Angelina, I think we’ve done our job and that Andy Warhol, wherever he is, is smiling on behalf of Interview. I mean, we haven’t heard even a portion of the wonderful Angelina Jolie stories we know, but we’ve suggested some of the energy that is uniquely you. I send you much love, my dear.
JOLIE: I love you too, Daddy.
THIS INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN IN THE JUNE 1997 ISSUE OF INTERVIEW.