Is Angelina Jolie a good actress? Does this matter? These are the most prominent questions that popped into my head as I sat down to evaluate the life and career of famous person, Angelina Jolie.
Let us answer the first question. Angelina Jolie got her spot in the limelight by being Jon Voight’s daughter. However, her first real leading role was in the 1995 film, Hackers. Soon after in 1999, she got an Academy Award for her supporting role in Girl, Interrupted. Here is the point where she finally gains some clout and recognition for her talent. Early Jolie had a reputation for being a bit strange: choosing to marry Billy Bob Thornton and being oddly close with her brother. She was provocative.
However after this period, we are subject to an onslaught of movies that just don’t hit critically. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider made plenty of money, sure, but it wasn’t known for being good. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is more famous for its real world repercussions and ensuing scandal than it is for her performance. Most reviewers claim the best part of the movie is the chemistry between Pitt and Jolie. That clearly was because of the real world feelings between one another, and arguably less to do with her acting ability.
For many years, Jolie got roles as an action star and lead, and became one of the highest paid women in Hollywood. She was one half of one of the most famous couples. This is where the second question comes in...does it matter?
Angelina Jolie’s stardom really rose during the late 90’s. This was right before the boom of Paris Hilton and later, the Kardashians - people famous for being famous, and not having a discernible artistic talent or cultural contribution. Jolie still had to produce content to remain relevant despite being relevant in the tabloids due to her personal life. Eventually the movies almost became besides the point. Most of them became blockbusters that allowed for her to make appearances at events and premieres.
That is not to neglect the insane amount of money Jolie has donated to charity including a recent million dollar donation to help children affected by the coronavirus. This is just another way that her on-screen presence is merely a tool for the real work she is truly interested in, which is helping underprivileged children.
In the beginning of her career, Jolie was characterized by being Jon Voight’s daughter, and acting creepy with her brother. She was attached to Billy Bob Thornton, and then she was involved in the Pitt-Aniston scandal. She started to be assigned a public persona of the Veronica to Jen’s Betty. She’s the seductress. That persona has made her more of a household name than any singular role.
It makes a lot of sense that she would then take on the role of Maleficent in 2014’s Maleficent. Reinterpreting the classic Disney villain as misunderstood is almost a commentary on Angelina Jolie’s public persona.
There are many actors who play thinly veiled versions of themselves: John Wayne, Will Smith, and Angelina Jolie, to name a few. The best version of Jolie in a movie role is her subverting her public persona. In recent years, she has moved more into producing and directing. Like Brad Pitt, she seems to already be choosing more artistic projects, like Unbroken. We will see what version of Jolie we get with Eternals and how she manages to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe like so many of her fellow A-List actors.
So is Angelina Jolie a good actress? Not usually. Her star power is more important than her actual acting ability. Plus, she is proving to be a better producer and director, so she has artistic talent. Does it matter? She’s rich enough to buy me and sell me, so I would say no. Her real work is as a director, a humanitarian, and a public figure.
Marco is a comedian, writer, and underemployed New Yorker trying to make it in this damn world. He enjoys fruitlessly pursuing love on dating apps and keeping track of all of the movies he’s seen on Letterboxd.