Angelina Jolie has reunited with her eldest child, Maddox, in Tokyo at the premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. You’ll recall, she dropped him off in South Korea a few week ago at university. The other day, at the Hollywood premiere, she told reporters that he’d be flying the short distance to meet her in Japan. And here we are, Maddox escorting his ma down the red carpet – and Zahara made the trip too.
Angelina is wearing Ralph & Russo. It’s not black and it’s not a sack. It’s about as glamourous as we’ve seen her in a while –and it’s not going unnoticed. Vogue called it an “unexpected choice” because it’s been a minute since we’ve seen Angie dial it up. She doesn’t have to, obviously, with That Face, but recently, as we’ve all seen, as I’ve been writing about since the summer, there’s been a shift – one that she acknowledges herself.
In interviews she’s spoken about rediscovery, about her kids getting older, teaching her new things, expanding her world, and revisiting a side of herself that she’d not been in touch with in a while. Angelina is having fun. It’s a talking point that’s come up often in the press she’s been doing the last few months, since Comic-Con and Eternals, and it comes up again in her new interview with Madame Figaro.
But first… look at this cover.
This was the Angelina we knew during the early part of her career. She was a bombshell. A Wild Thing. This is the return of the Wild Thing, the “wicked woman”. As she tells the magazine: (I’m fluent in French so this is my translation and it’s more for the spirit of what she says because she answered in English and her answers were translated into French so we don’t know exactly what her own English words were)
“I feel like I’m coming full-circle. For this new Guerlain campaign, I asked myself: what is expected of me? And the answer was that I want to be who I’ve always been. So instead of hiding my wild side, I’m bringing it out. I want to feel free.”
Wild and free. Feeling “free”, this idea of “freedom”, has come up a lot too in her recent interviews. That was the girl in the late 90s and 2000s who exploded onto the scene, irresistible and intimidating all at once. Since becoming a mother, her focus has been to show a softer, nurturing side, but as her children have become more independent, so too has she re-engaged that wildness. And you can f-cking see it.
When asked about the future, about her destiny, she says: (and again here, this is my translation for idea behind what she’s saying)
“I do not know about destiny, but I’m certain that I’m in transition, and this is a homecoming, I’m coming back to myself. Because I was a little lost.”
When asked to elaborate…
“I think it was at the end of my relationship with Brad and then when we separated. It was complicated, I didn’t recognise myself anymore, and I’d become, how do I say this, smaller, insignificant, even if I didn’t show it. I was profoundly, deeply sad, I was hurt. On the other hand, it was interesting to tap into this humility and sense of insignificance. In the end, that’s human. And on top of that, I was dealing with some health issues. All of these things ground you and remind you of how lucky you are to be alive. It’s a lesson I pass onto my children: the idea of renewal, and through it all, the possibility of joy. I had to rediscover the joy.”
It’s about as candid as she’s been about what the last few years have been like. And it makes sense that the result of the work she’s been doing in her personal life is showing up in her professional life and how she’s presenting herself to the world now.
“Comeback” is an overused word in this business and, certainly, it’s not like Angelina Jolie has ever been out of it, but this feels like a “comeback”, doesn’t it? That seems to be what she’s trying to say: I’m back.