Feature by: Jack Foley
YOU could be forgiven for thinking that Angelina Jolie is something
of an intimidating presence - a hellraising actress with a penchant
for the obscure, particularly given some of the headlines that
appeared during her time with Billy Bob Thornton.
And yet, sat at the Dorchester Hotel talking passionately and
eloquently about Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life, Angelina Jolie
is one of the politest and most charming stars you could ever
wish to meet.
Nothing was too much trouble, whether it was agreeing to pose
for a photograph with an over-eager journalist, or answering the
odd, cheeky question about what it's like to be a single woman
And then there is her life itself, which is more amazing and
inspiring than many of the tabloid headlines would have you believe.
Aside from being one of the world's most sought-after movie actresses,
Jolie is also a full-time mother and a goodwill ambassador for
the UN - the latter two of which have helped to transform her
life into something she is genuinely happy with.
But are there times when she finds it difficult to balance all
"I think sometimes, yeah, it can be hard. But it's so wonderful,
and it gives my life so much purpose, especially Maddox, my son,
and my work at the UN, it's just such a pleasure to have a day
filled with so much responsibility. I'm tremendously grateful
for all that."
Indeed, it was her role in the first Lara Croft movie, that made
the actress first aware of how little she knew about the world
- and how much she could do to help.
"A few years ago, during the first Tomb Raider, and after
travelling in Cambodia, I started to realise that there was a
lot about the world that I knew nothing about. I'd heard stories
about Sierra Leone at the time. But when I came back to the States,
I found I wasn't able to follow it as well," she explained.
"So, I called this organisation in Washington and asked
if they would teach me, and if I could travel with them, I would
pay for it, if they would just point me in the right direction
and give me a contact.
"And so suddenly, I was in Sierra Leone. Then a year later,
I became a goodwill ambassador, which changed my life; every country
I've been to, and every experience I've had.
"I'm now really, really aware of how fortunate we are in
countries like this and America, and how little we know about
all the other people's of the world, and what they're going through
and who they are, as well as how much we can all do."
So was there a particular moment that really opened her eyes
to all of this?
"I guess it was in Sierra Leone, when I met a two-year-old
girl who had had her limbs cut off... that had happened and everything
that that said was just so shocking...."
It is a side of the world so far removed from the trappings of
Hollywood one might associate with the actress.
And yet, Jolie has chosen to distance herself from Tinseltown,
living in Buckinghamshire, as well as setting up home in Cambodia,
primarily because she feels that Maddox, will have a better education
"I think the news is different here, and the papers are
different," she explained. "I mean without trying, even,
last night there was an hour special on Channel 4 about the Congo,
which was on general television.
"I don't feel that this would have happened if I was in
the States. I appreciate a lot of that here and I feel closer
to other parts of the world."
As for her home in Cambodia, it is located close to a wildlife
sanctuary she has helped to establish and is in the process of
being made safe - a recent de-mining operation uncovered 48 unexploded
mines on the property.
But the actress is equally as candid about explaining her reasons
for opting to set up home in a place which might be considered
dangerous for a young child.
"My son is from that country and there are little children
running around with their parents alright, so I thought that if
their children are expected to do that, then mine shouldn't be
an exception," she added.
Given the defiant nature of the actress, and her propensity for
accepting a challenge, it is little susprise to find that she
embraced the adventures that came with playing the part of Lara
Croft, whether it was hanging upside down from a mountain, or
parachuting into a Jeep.
And she never felt the need for a stunt double, unless insurance
purposes meant that she couldn't perform one of the set pieces
"I like heights, I'm very comfortable with them,"
she explained, in reference to the mountain sequence, in particular.
"In fact, I was probably much more comfortable hanging upside
down over 100ft than I was on a jetski in a bikini! But then ,
we all have our fears."
But while the Lara Croft sequel may have under-performed at the
US Box Office, the sequel is something she remains proud of, especially
since she confesses to not being entirely happy with the original.
"That was part of the reason of wanting to do a sequel,"
she continues. "I think we felt there was a lot we had established
in the first one, and we got some things right; but there was
also a lot I was not satisfied with.... and I really am very happy
with the second film."
Whether UK audiences will agree with the actress, or the US critics,
remains to be seen, but it is not something that Jolie seems overly
In fact, when asked about the stress of headlining such a franchise,
she refers back to the other parts of her life as mitigating factors
in not feeling it as much.
"There is a certain kind of pressure, of course, but fortunately,
because of being a parent and the other things I've been doing,
I don't take it so seriously," she continues.
"I enjoy making films now, mroe than I did before, when
I was trying to be established and trying to work a lot, and just
be in this business.
"Now I feel that if I have the opportunity to continue to
work, then I am happy.
"There are times, of course, when I wish there were more
people on the poster with me - and the other day, I saw this cab
go by with me in a silver wetsuit on it, which is just weird.
"But I'm proud of this film, so that makes it easier,"