Angelina Jolie (born June 4, 1975) is an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. The recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award and three Golden Globe Awards, she has been named Hollywood’s highest-paid actress multiple times. Jolie made her screen debut as a child alongside her father, Jon Voight, in Lookin’ to Get Out (1982), and her film career began in earnest a decade later with the low-budget production Cyborg 2 (1993), followed by her first leading role in a major film, Hackers (1995). She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical cable films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1999 drama Girl, Interrupted. Her starring role as the video game heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) established her as a leading Hollywood actress. She continued her action-star career with Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), Salt (2010), and The Tourist (2010), and received critical acclaim for her performances in the dramas A Mighty Heart (2007) and Changeling (2008), the latter of which earned her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her biggest commercial success came with the fantasy picture Maleficent (2014). She is also known for her voice role in animation film series Kung Fu Panda (2008–present). Jolie has also directed and written several war dramas, namely In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011), Unbroken (2014), and First They Killed My Father (2017). In addition to her film career, Jolie is known for her humanitarian efforts, for which she has received a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and made an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG), among other honors. She promotes various causes, including conservation, education, and women’s rights, and is most noted for her advocacy on behalf of refugees as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Jolie has undertaken over a dozen field missions globally to refugee camps and war zones; her visited countries include Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Sudan. As a public figure, Jolie has been cited as one of the most powerful and influential people in the American entertainment industry. She has been cited as the world’s most beautiful woman by various media outlets. Her personal life, including her relationships, marriages, and health, has been the subject of wide publicity. She is divorced from actors Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton and Brad Pitt. She has six children with Pitt, three of whom were adopted internationally.
Angelina Jolie Voight was born on June 4, 1975, in Los Angeles, California, to actors Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. She is the sister of actor James Haven as well as the niece of singer-songwriter Chip Taylor and geologist and volcanologist Barry Voight. Her godparents are actors Jacqueline Bisset and Maximilian Schell. On her father’s side, Jolie is of German and Slovak descent, while on her mother’s side, she has primarily French Canadian, Dutch, and German ancestry. Jolie has noted that she is part Iroquois through a 17th-century Huron ancestor. Following her parents’ separation in 1976, she and her brother lived with their mother, who had abandoned her acting ambitions to focus on raising her children. Jolie’s mother raised her as a Catholic but did not require her to go to church. As a child, she often watched films with her mother and it was this, rather than her father’s successful career, that inspired her interest in acting, though she had a bit part in Voight’s Lookin’ to Get Out (1982) at age seven. When Jolie was six years old, Bertrand and her live-in partner, filmmaker Bill Day, moved the family to Palisades, New York; they returned to Los Angeles five years later. Jolie then decided she wanted to act and enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where she trained for two years and appeared in several stage productions. Jolie first attended Beverly Hills High School, where she felt isolated among the children of some of the area’s affluent families because her mother survived on a more modest income. She was teased by other students, who targeted her for being extremely thin and for wearing glasses and braces. Her early attempts at modeling, at her mother’s insistence, proved unsuccessful. She then transferred to Moreno High School, an alternative school, where she became a “punk outsider,” wearing all-black clothing, going out moshing, and experimenting with knife play with her live-in boyfriend. She dropped out of her acting classes and aspired to become a funeral director, taking at-home courses to study embalming. At age 16, after the relationship had ended, Jolie graduated from high school and rented her own apartment before returning to theater studies, though in 2004 she referred to this period with the observation, “I am still at heart—and always will be—just a punk kid with tattoos.” As a teenager, Jolie found it difficult to emotionally connect with other people, and as a result she self-harmed, later commenting, “For some reason, the ritual of having cut myself and feeling the pain, maybe feeling alive, feeling some kind of release, it was somehow therapeutic to me.” She also struggled with insomnia and an eating disorder and began experimenting with drugs; by age 20, she had used “just about every drug possible,” particularly heroin. Jolie suffered episodes of depression and planned to commit suicide twice—at age 19 and again at 22, when she attempted to hire a hitman to kill her. When she was 24, she experienced a nervous breakdown and was admitted for 72 hours to UCLA Medical Center’s psychiatric ward. Two years later, after adopting her first child, Jolie found stability in her life, later stating, “I knew once I committed to Maddox, I would never be self-destructive again.” Jolie has had a lifelong dysfunctional relationship with her father, which began when Voight left the family when his daughter was less than a year old. She has said that from then on their time together was sporadic and usually carried out in front of the press. They reconciled when they appeared together in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), but their relationship again deteriorated. Jolie petitioned the court to legally remove her surname, Voight, in favor of her middle name, which she had long used as a stage name; the name change was granted on September 12, 2002. Voight then went public with their estrangement during an appearance on Access Hollywood, in which he claimed Jolie had “serious mental problems.” At that point, her mother and brother also broke off contact with him. They did not speak for six and a half years but began rebuilding their relationship in the wake of Bertrand’s death from ovarian cancer on January 27, 2007 before going public with their reconciliation three years later.
1991–1997: Early work
Jolie committed to acting professionally at the age of 16, but initially found it difficult to pass auditions, often being told that her demeanor was “too dark.” She appeared in five of her brother’s student films, made while he attended the USC School of Cinema-Television, as well as in several music videos, namely Lenny Kravitz’s “Stand by My Woman” (1991), Antonello Venditti’s “Alta Marea” (1991), The Lemonheads’s “It’s About Time” (1993), and Meat Loaf’s “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” (1993). She began to learn from her father, as she noticed his method of observing people to become like them. Their relationship during this time was less strained, with Jolie realizing that they were both “drama queens.” Jolie began her professional film career in 1993, when she played her first leading role in the direct-to-video science-fiction sequel Cyborg 2, as a near-human robot designed for corporate espionage and assassination. She was so disappointed with the film that she did not audition again for a year. Following a supporting role in the independent film Without Evidence (1995), she starred in her first Hollywood picture, Hackers (1995). The New York Times critic Janet Maslin wrote that Angelina’s character Kate “stands out. That’s because she scowls even more sourly than and is that rare female hacker who sits intently at her keyboard in a see-through top.” Hackers failed to make a profit at the box office, but developed a cult following after its video release. After starring in the modern-day Romeo and Juliet adaptation Love Is All There Is (1996), Jolie appeared in the road movie Mojave Moon (1996), of which The Hollywood Reporter said, “Jolie, an actress whom the camera truly adores, reveals a comic flair and the kind of blatant sexuality that makes it entirely credible that Danny Aiello’s character would drop everything just for the chance of being with her.” In Foxfire (1996) she played a drifter who unites four teenage girls against a teacher who has sexually harassed them. Jack Mathews of the Los Angeles Times wrote of her performance, “It took a lot of hogwash to develop this character, but Jolie, Jon Voight’s knockout daughter, has the presence to overcome the stereotype. Though the story is narrated by Maddy, Legs is the subject and the catalyst.” In 1997, Jolie starred with David Duchovny in the thriller Playing God, set in the Los Angeles underworld. The film was not well received by critics; Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert wrote that Jolie “finds a certain warmth in a kind of role that is usually hard and aggressive; she seems too nice to be girlfriend, and maybe she is.” Her next work, as a frontierswoman in the CBS miniseries True Women (1997), was even less successful; writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Robert Strauss dismissed her as “horrid, a fourth-rate Scarlett O’Hara” who relies on “gnashed teeth and overly pouted lips.” Jolie also starred in the music video for the Rolling Stones’s “Anybody Seen My Baby?” as a stripper who leaves mid-performance to wander New York City. Jolie’s career prospects began to improve after she won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in TNT’s George Wallace (1997), about the life of the segregationist Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, played by Gary Sinise. Jolie portrayed Wallace’s second wife, Cornelia, a performance Lee Winfrey of The Philadelphia Inquirer considered a highlight of the film. George Wallace was very well received by critics and won, among other awards, the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film. Jolie also received a nomination for an Emmy Award for her performance.
Jolie’s first breakthrough came when she portrayed supermodel Gia Carangi in HBO’s Gia (1998). The film chronicles the destruction of Carangi’s life and career as a result of her addiction to heroin, and her decline and death from AIDS in the mid-1980s. Vanessa Vance of Reel.com retrospectively noted, “Jolie gained wide recognition for her role as the titular Gia, and it’s easy to see why. Jolie is fierce in her portrayal—filling the part with nerve, charm, and desperation—and her role in this film is quite possibly the most beautiful train wreck ever filmed.” For the second consecutive year, Jolie won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Emmy Award. She also won her first Screen Actors Guild Award. In accordance with Lee Strasberg’s method acting, Jolie preferred to stay in character in between scenes during many of her early films, and as a result had gained a reputation for being difficult to deal with. While shooting Gia, she told her husband, Jonny Lee Miller, that she would not be able to phone him: “I’d tell him: ‘I’m alone; I’m dying; I’m gay; I’m not going to see you for weeks.” After Gia wrapped, she briefly gave up acting, because she felt that she had “nothing else to give.” She separated from Miller and moved to New York, where she took night classes at New York University to study directing and screenwriting. Encouraged by her Golden Globe Award win for George Wallace and the positive critical reception of Gia, Jolie resumed her career. Following the previously filmed gangster film Hell’s Kitchen (1998), Jolie returned to the screen in Playing by Heart (1998), part of an ensemble cast that included Sean Connery, Gillian Anderson, and Ryan Phillippe. The film received predominantly positive reviews, and Jolie was praised in particular; San Francisco Chronicle critic Peter Stack wrote, “Jolie, working through an overwritten part, is a sensation as the desperate club crawler learning truths about what she’s willing to gamble.” She won the Breakthrough Performance Award from the National Board of Review. In 1999, Jolie starred in the comedy-drama Pushing Tin, alongside John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett. The film met with mixed reception from critics, and Jolie’s character—Thornton’s seductive wife—was particularly criticized; writing for The Washington Post, Desson Howe dismissed her as “a completely ludicrous writer’s creation of a free-spirited woman who weeps over hibiscus plants that die, wears lots of turquoise rings and gets real lonely when Russell spends entire nights away from home.” Jolie then co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector (1999), playing a police officer who reluctantly helps Washington’s quadriplegic detective track down a serial killer. The film grossed $151.5 million worldwide, but was critically unsuccessful. Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press concluded, “Jolie, while always delicious to look at, is simply and woefully miscast.” Jolie next took the supporting role of a sociopathic mental patient in Girl, Interrupted (1999), an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of the same name. While Winona Ryder played the main character in what was hoped to be a comeback for her, the film instead marked Jolie’s final breakthrough in Hollywood. She won her third Golden Globe Award, her second Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2000. For Variety, Emanuel Levy noted, “Jolie is excellent as the flamboyant, irresponsible girl who turns out to be far more instrumental than the doctors in Susanna’s rehabilitation.” In 2000, Jolie appeared in her first summer blockbuster, Gone in 60 Seconds, which became her highest-grossing film to that point, earning $237.2 million internationally. She had a minor role as the mechanic ex-girlfriend of a car thief played by Nicolas Cage; The Washington Post writer Stephen Hunter criticized that “all she does in this movie is stand around, cooling down, modeling those fleshy, pulsating muscle-tubes that nest so provocatively around her teeth.” Jolie later explained that the film had been a welcome relief after her emotionally demanding role in Girl, Interrupted.
Although widely praised for her acting and performances, Jolie had rarely found films that appealed to a wide audience, but 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider made her an international superstar. An adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider video games, the film required her to learn an English accent and undergo extensive martial arts training to play the archaeologist-adventurer Lara Croft. Although the film generated mostly negative reviews, Jolie was generally praised for her physical performance; Newsday’s John Anderson commented, “Jolie makes the title character a virtual icon of female competence and coolth.” The film was an international hit, earning $274.7 million worldwide, and launched her global reputation as a female action star. Jolie next starred opposite Antonio Banderas as his mail-order bride in Original Sin (2001), the first of a string of films that were poorly received by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell questioned Jolie’s decision to follow her Oscar-winning performance with “soft-core nonsense.” The romantic comedy Life or Something Like It (2002), though equally unsuccessful, marked an unusual choice for Jolie. Salon magazine’s Allen Barra considered her ambitious newscaster character a rare attempt at playing a conventional women’s role, noting that her performance “doesn’t get off the ground until a scene where she goes punk and leads a group of striking bus workers in singing ‘Satisfaction'”. Despite her lack of box office success, Jolie remained in demand as an actress; in 2002, she established herself among Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, earning $10–$15 million per film for the next five years. Jolie reprised her role as Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003), which was not as lucrative as the original, earning $156.5 million at the international box office. She also starred in the music video for Korn’s “Did My Time”, which was used to promote the sequel. Her next film was Beyond Borders (2003), in which she portrayed a socialite who joins an aid worker played by Clive Owen. Though unsuccessful with audiences, the film stands as the first of several passion projects Jolie has made to bring attention to humanitarian causes. Beyond Borders was a critical failure; Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times acknowledged Jolie’s ability to “bring electricity and believability to roles,” but wrote that “the limbo of a hybrid character, a badly written cardboard person in a fly-infested, blood-and-guts world, completely defeats her.” The year 2004 saw the release of four films featuring Jolie. She first starred in the thriller Taking Lives as an FBI profiler summoned to help Montreal law enforcement hunt down a serial killer. The film received mixed reviews; The Hollywood Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt concluded, “Jolie plays a role that definitely feels like something she has already done, but she does add an unmistakable dash of excitement and glamour.” Jolie made a brief appearance as a fighter pilot in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a science fiction adventure shot entirely with actors in front of a bluescreen, and voiced her first family film, the DreamWorks animation Shark Tale. Her supporting role as Queen Olympias in Oliver Stone’s Alexander, about the life of Alexander the Great, was met with mixed reception, particularly concerning her Slavic accent. Commercially, the film failed in North America, which Stone attributed to disapproval of the depiction of Alexander’s bisexuality, but it succeeded internationally, grossing $167.3 million.
2005–2010: Established actress
In 2005, Jolie returned to major box office success with the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith, in which she starred opposite Brad Pitt as a bored married couple who find out that they are both secret assassins. The film received mixed reviews, but was generally lauded for the chemistry between the two leads; Star Tribune critic Colin Covert noted, “While the story feels haphazard, the movie gets by on gregarious charm, galloping energy and the stars’ thermonuclear screen chemistry.” With box office takings of $478.2 million worldwide, Mr. & Mrs. Smith was the seventh-highest grossing picture of the year and remained Jolie’s highest-grossing live-action film for the next decade. Following a supporting role as the neglected wife of a CIA officer in Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006), Jolie starred as Mariane Pearl in the documentary-style drama A Mighty Heart (2007). Based on Pearl’s memoir of the same name, the film chronicles the kidnapping and murder of her husband, The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in Pakistan. Although the biracial Pearl had personally chosen Jolie for the role, the casting drew racial criticism and accusations of blackface. The resulting performance was widely praised; Ray Bennett of The Hollywood Reporter described it as “well-measured and moving,” played “with respect and a firm grasp on a difficult accent.” She received nominations for a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Jolie also played a shape-shifting seductress, Grendel’s mother, in the epic Beowulf (2007), created through motion capture. The film was critically and commercially well received, earning $196.4 million worldwide. By 2008, Jolie was considered the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, earning $15–$20 million per film. While other actresses had been forced to take salary cuts in recent years, Jolie’s perceived box office appeal allowed her to command as much as $20 million plus a percentage. She starred alongside James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman in the action film Wanted (2008), which proved an international success, earning $341.4 million worldwide. The film received predominantly favorable reviews; writing for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis noted that Jolie was “perfectly cast as a super-scary, seemingly amoral assassin,” adding that “she cuts the kind of disciplinarian figure who can bring boys of all ages to their knees or at least into their theater seats.” Jolie next took the lead role in Clint Eastwood’s drama Changeling (2008). Based in part on the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, the film centers on Christine Collins, who is reunited with her kidnapped son in 1928 Los Angeles, only to realize the boy is an imposter. Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips noted, “Jolie really shines in the calm before the storm, the scenes when one patronizing male authority figure after another belittles her at their peril.” She received nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award for Best Actress. Jolie also voiced the DreamWorks animation Kung Fu Panda (2008), the first work in a major family franchise, later reprising her voice role in the sequels Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016). After her mother’s death in 2007, Jolie appeared in fewer films, later explaining that her motivation to be an actress had stemmed from her mother’s acting ambitions. Her first film in two years was the 2010 thriller Salt, in which she starred as a CIA agent who goes on the run after she is accused of being a KGB sleeper agent. Originally written as a male character with Tom Cruise attached to star, agent Salt underwent a gender change after a Columbia Pictures executive suggested Jolie for the role. With revenues of $293.5 million, Salt became an international success. The film received generally positive reviews, with Jolie’s performance in particular earning praise; Empire magazine critic William Thomas remarked, “When it comes to selling incredible, crazy, death-defying antics, Jolie has few peers in the action business.” Jolie starred opposite Johnny Depp in the thriller The Tourist (2010). The film was a critical failure, though Roger Ebert defended Jolie’s performance, stating that she “does her darndest” and “plays her femme fatale with flat-out, drop-dead sexuality.” Despite poor critical reception and a slow start at the North American box office, the film went on to gross a respectable $278.3 million worldwide, cementing Jolie’s appeal to international audiences. She received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance, which gave rise to speculation that it had been given merely to ensure her high-profile presence at the awards ceremony.
2011–present: Career expansion
After directing the documentary A Place in Time (2007), which was distributed through the National Education Association, Jolie made her feature directorial debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011), a love story between a Serb soldier and a Bosniak prisoner, set during the 1992–95 Bosnian War. She conceived the film to rekindle attention for the survivors, after twice visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina in her role as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. To ensure authenticity, she cast only actors from the former Yugoslavia—including stars Goran Kostić and Zana Marjanović—and incorporated their wartime experiences into her screenplay. Upon release, the film received mixed reviews; Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Jolie deserves significant credit for creating such a powerfully oppressive atmosphere and staging the ghastly events so credibly, even if it is these very strengths that will make people not want to watch what’s onscreen.” The film was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Jolie was named an honorary citizen of Sarajevo for raising awareness of the war. After a three-and-a-half-year absence from the screen, Jolie starred in Maleficent (2014), a live-action re-imagining of Disney’s 1959 animation Sleeping Beauty. Critical reception was mixed, but Jolie’s performance in the titular role was singled out for praise; The Hollywood Reporter critic Sherri Linden found her to be the “heart and soul” of the film, adding that she “doesn’t chew the estimable scenery in Maleficent—she infuses it, wielding a magnetic and effortless power.” In its opening weekend, Maleficent earned nearly $70 million at the North American box office and over $100 million in other markets, marking Jolie’s appeal to audiences of all demographics in both action and fantasy films, genres usually dominated by male actors. The film went on to gross $757.8 million worldwide, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of the year and Jolie’s highest-grossing film ever. Jolie next completed her second directorial venture, Unbroken (2014), about World War II hero Louis Zamperini (1917–2014), a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash over sea and spent two years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. She also served as producer under her Jolie Pas banner. Unbroken is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s biography of the same name, the film was scripted by the Coen brothers and starred Jack O’Connell. After a positive early reception, Unbroken was considered a likely Best Picture and Best Director contender, but it ultimately received mixed reviews and little award recognition, though it was named one of the best films of the year by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. Variety magazine’s Justin Chang noted the film’s “impeccable craftsmanship and sober restraint”, but deemed it “an extraordinary story told in dutiful, unexceptional terms.” Financially, Unbroken far outperformed industry expectations in its opening weekend, eventually earning over $163 million worldwide. Jolie’s next directorial effort was the marital drama By the Sea (2015), in which she starred opposite her husband, Brad Pitt, marking their first collaboration since 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Based on her screenplay, the film was a deeply personal project for Jolie, who drew inspiration from her own mother’s life. Critics, however, dismissed it as a “vanity project,” as part of an overall poor reception. Writing for The Washington Post, Stephanie Merry noted its dearth of genuine emotion, stating, “By the Sea is dazzlingly gorgeous, as are its stars. But peeling back layer upon layer of exquisite ennui reveals nothing but emptiness, sprinkled with stilted sentiments.” Despite starring two of Hollywood’s leading actors, the film received only a limited release. As Jolie preferred to dedicate herself to her humanitarian work, her cinematic output remained infrequent. First They Killed My Father (2017), a drama set during Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge era, again enabled her to combine both interests. In addition to directing the film, she co-wrote the screenplay with her longtime friend Loung Ung, whose memoirs about the regime’s child labor camps served as its source material. Intended primarily for a Cambodian audience, the film was produced directly for Netflix, which allowed for the use of an exclusively Khmer cast and script. Labeling Jolie as a “skilled and sensitive filmmaker”, Rafer Guzmán of Newsday commended her for “convincingly depict the illogical hell of the Khmer Rouge era”. It received nominations for the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. Jolie reprised the role of Maleficent in the Disney fantasy sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), which received unfavorable reviews from critics but performed moderately well commercially, with a global gross of $490 million. She next starred alongside David Oyelowo as grieving parents to the title characters of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan in the fantasy film Come Away. Following its release in May 2021, Jolie stars in Taylor Sheridan’s neo-Western thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead, based on Michael Koryta’s novel of the same name. She is also set to produce and star in an adaptation of the 2014 James Scott novel The Kept, in addition to portraying the fictional warrior Thena in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals.
Richard Madden (born 18 June 1986) is a Scottish actor. Born and raised in Elderslie near Glasgow, Madden was cast in his first role at age 11 and made his screen acting debut in 2000. He later began performing on stage whilst a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2007, he toured with Shakespeare’s Globe company as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, a role he reprised in the West End in 2016. With his portrayal of Robb Stark in the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones from 2011 to 2013, Madden rose to fame. After his work on Game of Thrones, Madden played Prince Kit in the romantic fantasy film Cinderella (2015) and Italian banker Cosimo de’ Medici in the first season of the historical fiction series Medici (2016). In 2018, he gained acclaim for his performance as a war veteran and Principal Protection Officer in the thriller series Bodyguard, for which he won a Golden Globe Award. In addition to starring as music manager John Reid in the biopic Rocketman and a soldier in the epic war film 1917, Madden was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time the following year.
Life and career
1986–2010: Early life and work
Madden was born on 18 June 1986 in Elderslie, outside the city of Glasgow, where he grew up alongside his two sisters. His mother is a primary school teacher, and his father worked as a firefighter. At age 11, Madden joined PACE Youth Theatre to help overcome his shyness. At that same age, he was cast in his first role as young Andy in a film adaptation of Iain Banks’ Complicity, which was released in 2000. Next, he played the lead role of Sebastian in the children’s television series Barmy Aunt Boomerang, which aired from 1999 until 2000. In addition to being shy, Madden struggled with body insecurities as a child. He later stated that he also experienced bullying, especially in high school, which he attributed to his role in Complicity. Madden attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, in Glasgow, graduating in 2007. He worked with The Arches and the Glasgow Repertory Company during his studies; he also performed in Franz Xaver Kroetz’s play Tom Fool at the Citizens Theatre. After receiving positive reviews, the Tom Fool production transferred to London, where Madden was spotted by a team from Shakespeare’s Globe. In his final year at the conservatoire, he was cast as Romeo in the play Romeo and Juliet at the modern Globe Theatre in London, followed by a tour of the production during the summer of 2007. In her review, Susan Elkin of The Stage deemed the actor’s portrayal of Romeo “gravelly Glaswegian” and “almost childlike”. That same year, Madden played Callum McGregor in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses, which ran from December 2007 to February 2008. He then starred as Mark McNulty in the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of the play Be Near Me in 2009, which The Times’s Benedict Nightingale described as a “skilful adaptation” of the Andrew O’Hagan novel of the same name. Susan Mansfield of The Scotsman wrote that Madden had caught critics’ attention, reporting additional positive reviews of his performances by The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. He later gained the lead role of Dean McKenzie in the 2009 BBC comedy-drama series Hope Springs, followed by his respective roles as Ripley and Theatre of Hate singer Kirk Brandon in the 2010 films Chatroom and Worried About the Boy.
Madden starred as Robb Stark in the HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, based upon the series of novels titled A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, from 2011 to 2013. He later spoke about being broke and even contemplating moving back in with his parents prior to his casting. His work as Stark propelled him to prominence. Throughout Madden’s time on the series, the ensemble cast garnered Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2011 and 2013. During this period, he also appeared in the Channel 4 comedy-drama series Sirens and the BBC drama series Birdsong. Madden first obtained his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card for the 2014 miniseries Klondike, in which he played Bill Haskell, a real-life adventurer who participated in the Klondike Gold Rush. Madden portrayed Prince Kit in Cinderella, a romantic fantasy film and live action adaptation of the animated film of the same name. While terrified of playing a classical fairy tale character, the actor found comfort in how audiences knew very little about the prince in the animated film and how he was able to create “a real young man.” Released in March 2015, Cinderella was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $542 million. He next appeared as American pickpocket Michael Mason in the 2016 thriller film Bastille Day. That same year, Madden starred as Romeo in a West End production of Romeo and Juliet, which opened at the Garrick Theatre on 25 May, reuniting with his Cinderella co-star Lily James, who starred as Juliet, and director Kenneth Branagh. Michael Billington of The Guardian praised Madden’s articulation of Romeo’s “challenge to fate”, while Variety’s Matt Trueman criticised his speeches as “flat and regimented”. He departed the production in July after suffering an ankle injury. Also, in 2016, Madden played the lead role of Cosimo de’ Medici, a member of the House of Medici banking family during the Italian Renaissance, in the first season of the Italian-British television drama series Medici, subtitled Masters of Florence. In 2017, he appeared in the first episode of Electric Dreams, an anthology series based on Philip K. Dick’s works. Writing for Digital Spy, Alex Mullane found the actor “particularly dashing” and added that his performance made the twist in the story “brutally effective”. Madden next played a DJ in the Netflix romantic comedy film Ibiza, embodying the part with hints of goofiness and loneliness. In her review for The Daily Telegraph, Lucy Jones deemed him a “fine and believable romantic lead.” Madden garnered acclaim and recognition for playing Sergeant David Budd, a war veteran and principal protection officer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in the 2018 BBC thriller series Bodyguard. He spoke to members of the armed forces who had experienced PTSD to frame a complex and intricate representation of the disorder. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the actor executed the role with self-possession, while The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert observed that he conveyed Budd’s “superb instincts, his cool head under fire, and his complex psyche” successfully. The series became the UK’s most watched television drama since current records began, which led to its release to a worldwide audience on Netflix in October 2018. Madden’s performance earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama; however, critics and fans alike noted he did not receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
2019–present: Film success
In 2019, Madden portrayed music manager John Reid in the Elton John biopic Rocketman, which was released in May, and appeared as a World War I soldier in Sam Mendes’ war film 1917, which was released in December. Both films garnered positive reviews and became box office successes. From December 2020 to January 2021, he starred in the science fiction podcast series From Now, voicing a survivor of a spaceship that returns 35 years after vanishing. Madden will star as Ikaris in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao, which is scheduled for a November 2021 release. He will play a leading role in Citadel, an Amazon Studios series created by Anthony and Joe Russo. Madden is also set to executive produce a television series adaptation of From Now.
Public image and personal life
In 2019, Madden was featured on the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world compiled by Time magazine. He was also recognised with the GQ Men of the Year Award for Hugo Boss Most Stylish Man that same year. In an interview with British Vogue, Madden expressed pride in coming from a working class background and said that his social conscience is sparked by inequality in education and the lack of creative opportunities for working-class children in schools. As of May 2019, he splits his time between his residence in London and Los Angeles. In July 2019, Madden received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. When asked about his personal life during a New York Times interview following speculation about his relationships and sexuality, Madden stated: “I just keep my personal life personal.”
Gemma Chan was born at Guy’s Hospital in London, England. Her father was an engineer who grew up in Hong Kong, while her mother was a pharmacist and raised in Greenock, Scotland, after her parents emigrated from Hong Kong. Chan identifies as British Asian. Raised in Locksbottom in the London Borough of Bromley, Chan attended Newstead Wood School for Girls in Orpington, London and went on to study jurisprudence at Worcester College, Oxford. Following graduation, Chan gained a training contract offer as a graduate at the law firm Slaughter and May, but turned it down to study at the Drama Centre London and pursue an acting career. Spotted at her showcase by British film producer Damian Jones, she signed to talent agent Nicki van Gelder.
Early roles (2006–2013)
Chan made her professional debut in Horror Channel’s 2006 miniseries When Evil Calls. She was a competitor on the first series of the reality series Project Catwalk. Chan made her stage debut in the British premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s last play, Turandot, at the Hampstead Theatre, London, in 2008. Chan appeared in the autumn 2009 special of the BBC’s Doctor Who, titled “The Waters of Mars”, playing geologist Mia Bennett. The episode later won a Hugo Award. In the same year, Chan starred in Exam (2009) which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival to mixed reviews. The following year, Chan appeared in Channel 4’s The IT Crowd and BBC’s Sherlock. Chan’s next releases, Pimp, (2010) and Shanghai (2010), were panned by critics, while Submarine premiered at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews. Chan was cast as a series regular in the final series of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, as the rival of Billie Piper’s character. The series aired on ITV2 in 2011. Later that year, she appeared in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. A supporter of human rights, she made a film for Amnesty International to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2012, Chan was a regular in series two of Sky Living’s supernatural drama Bedlam where she portrayed Kiera, an “impulsive” and “free spirited” woman. She also appeared in True Love, a five-part semi-improvised television series produced by Working Title for BBC One. Chan met her co-stars on set, and had free rein to “flesh out” her character during the written scenarios. In June 2013, Chan performed in the British premiere of Yellow Face by American playwright David Henry Hwang at The Park Theatre, London, and returned for its 2014 revival at the Royal National Theatre. While promoting the play, Chan spoke about her struggles to get cast in non Chinese-related productions and period dramas due to her race. In November 2013, Chan performed in the world premiere of Our Ajax by Timberlake Wertenbaker at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Wertenbaker chose her to play the war goddess Athena after she saw her performance in Yellow Face. Michael Billington of The Guardian described her performance as “beautifully svelte omniscience”. Later that year, she starred in BBC One crime drama Shetland, playing young archaeologist Hattie James. Chan guest-starred in the BBC’s Death in Paradise. She was a cast member of Channel 4 romantic drama Dates. On 6 August 2013, Chan appeared as a guest on the “Cultural Exchange” feature of the BBC Radio 4 series Front Row, where she nominated the film The Princess Bride as a film she loves. Chan appeared in The Double (2013), which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival to critical success.
Chan appeared in the action-thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), which met mixed reception and financial success. She portrayed the protagonist’s girlfriend, Chen-Lin, in French comedy-drama Belles Familles (2015), which was released at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Chan also portrayed American witch Madame Ya Zhou in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), which was nominated for five BAFTAs. She lent her voice to BBC’s animated miniseries Watership Down in 2018. Chan starred as the anthropomorphic robot Anita/Mia in Humans, an AMC/Channel 4 science-fiction drama, from 2015 to 2018. The A.V. Club wrote that Chan “anchors the series”, with her performance “awakening in ways both subtle and overt … to reflect every new emotion.” Chan voiced robot Quintessa in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), which was panned by critics. Chan starred in action-thriller Stratton (2017) as the titular character’s “smart-girl” colleague, Aggie. In 2018, Chan joined Andrea Riseborough, Jane Horrocks, Jaime Winstone, and Laura Carmichael to star in a film produced by ActionAid, encouraging the British public to support girls at risk of sexual violence. Chan co-starred as Astrid Leong-Teo in the film Crazy Rich Asians (2018). Originally asked to portray the lead, Chan preferred the “more intriguing” role of Astrid. She first heard about the novel Crazy Rich Asians in a text message from her sister, read it on holiday, and “fell in love with Astrid”. On her role, Chan stated that “what you see with Astrid is not necessarily what you get. There are layers to her … seemingly has it all together. The film became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the decade and received critical acclaim for its cast, visuals and on-screen representation. The Hollywood Reporter lauded Chan as “a radiant presence who lights up her every scene”. That same year, she also featured in the short film titled Leading Lady Parts in support of the Time’s Up movement. Chan appeared as Petronella in London Fields (2018), which was a box-office bomb. Chan portrayed Elizabeth Hardwick in Josie Rourke’s directorial debut, historical drama Mary Queen of Scots (2018), which premiered at the AFI Fest. Chan’s casting “provoked controversy among internet trolls”, as her character had been a white woman. Chan responded that “if John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick” and remarked that “art should reflect life now.” Chan appeared in Captain Marvel (2019) in a supporting role as Minn-Erva, a sniper who is part of the Kree Starforce. The role required an extensive amount of prosthetic makeup, described as “four layers of airbrush paint” that took four hours to apply. The film had the sixth-biggest opening of all time to critical success. That same year, she was one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. In 2020 Chan starred alongside Meryl Streep in Steven Soderbergh’s comedy Let Them All Talk. She portrayed Karen, a literary agent who has a “maybe-romance” with her client’s nephew. The film premiered on HBO Max to positive reception. That same year, Chan was the fifteenth recipient of the Women In Film Max Mara Face of the Future award, given for her “distinguished acting achievements” and “personal embodiment of timeless style and grace”. Chan voiced the warrior princess Namaari, the antagonist of the Disney animated film Raya and the Last Dragon, which premiered in March 2021. The film was received positively by critics. That May, she briefly produced Hold Still, Vincent, a podcast about the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin. It was subsequently pulled from distribution by the producing team after it was revealed that the podcast’s production company did not consult with Chin’s estate during the project. November 2021 saw the release of the Marvel Studios film Eternals, in which she starred as Sersi, a member of the titular race. This was her second role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Captain Marvel (2019).
Chan will reprise her roles in the two Crazy Rich Asians sequel installments, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Chan will appear in psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling, directed by Olivia Wilde, and horror film Cuckoo, alongside Hunter Schafer and John Malkovich. She will also star in the Apple TV+ anthology series Extrapolations.
In September 2013, Chan appeared at the Old Bailey in central London as a witness to a fatal stabbing outside Putney Bridge tube station. Chan dated English comedian Jack Whitehall from 2011 to 2017. She began a relationship with English actor Dominic Cooper in 2018. They reside together in London.
Early life and education
Zhao Ting was born on 31 March 1982 in Beijing. Her father Zhao Yuji was an executive at Shougang Group, one of the country’s largest state-owned steel companies. After amassing significant personal wealth, he later moved on to real-estate development and equity investment. Yuji was tied to a number of offshore companies during the Panama Papers leaks. Zhao’s mother was a hospital worker who was in a People’s Liberation Army performance troupe. In an interview with Vogue, Zhao described herself as “a rebellious teen, lazy at school” who drew manga-influenced comics and wrote fan fiction. She loved films growing up, especially Happy Together by Wong Kar-wai. From an early age, Zhao was drawn to influences from Western pop culture. After her parents separated, her father married comic actress Song Dandan, whom Zhao had grown up watching on television. Although Zhao was still learning English at the time, her parents sent her to Brighton College, a private boarding school in the United Kingdom at the age of 15. She later moved to Los Angeles by herself, living in a Koreatown apartment in 2000, and attended Los Angeles High School. She next attended Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she majored in politics and minored in film studies, graduating in 2005. Bartending and working odd jobs after graduating helped her realize that she enjoyed meeting people and hearing about their lives and histories, giving her the push to attend film school. A Vulture article reported that “Four years was enough to turn her off of politics…she found herself drawn more to people than to policy”. Following up on her undergraduate film minor, she next joined the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television Graduate Film Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While attending Tisch, Zhao studied under director Spike Lee, who has directed popular films such as Malcom X (1992) and Old Boy (2013). She told USA Today that she appreciated Lee not sugarcoating anything, saying that “he will just tell you as it is”, something she that she claims she needed. After enrolling in the Graduate Studies film program at NYU in 2010 she made her first short film Daughters.
Chloé Zhao’s first work is her 2009 short film The Atlas Mountains, the story about Helen Thomas who develops a brief yet passionate relationship with an immigrant worker who comes to fix her computer. She also released a second short film titled Daughters, a film about a 14-year-old girl Maple, living in Rual China, who is forced into an arranged marriage and leads to her taking a dangerous path in order to try and break free. This short won First Place Student Live Action Short at the 2010 Palm Springs International Short Fest and Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Cinequest Film Festival. In 2015, Zhao directed her first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. Shot on location at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the film depicts the relationship between a Lakota Sioux brother and his younger sister. An already existing reservation, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has approximately 2.1 million acres, around 46,855 member, and occupies the Oglala Lakota, Jackson, and Bennet counties. In Zhao’s film, the brother Johnny plans to leave home and move to Los Angeles with his girlfriend when he graduates high school, but struggles with the thought of leaving his sister Jashaun at home with their troubled mother who is grieving the loss of their father. Focusing on the real lives and struggles of the surrounding community, the film is able to showcase the realness of people and problems they are faced with. In a Filmmaker article, Zhao stated that her rebellious years in her childhood is what pushed her to leave China and study abroad, helping her connect to the plot of the film which focuses on a character struggling in this environment. Half improvised, around 100 hours of footage was collected as Zhao worked with the real residents of the reservation to draw inspiration from their lives and personalities in order to help shape her story. She was able to utilize the natural landscape around her in this film in order to create a place of revelation, where people can be closest to God. Using wide and long shots, she created a documentary-like film that feels authentic, the desolate beauty of the Great Plains creating a story that depicts both freedom and hopelessness. It premiered in 2015 as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance Film Festival. It later played at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director’s Fortnight selection and was nominated for Best First Feature at the 31st Independent Spirit Awards. In 2017, Zhao directed The Rider, a contemporary western drama, which follows a young cowboy’s journey to self-discovery after a near-fatal accident ends his professional riding career. The film was executive produced by her father, Yuji Zhao. As with her first feature, Zhao engaged a cast of non-actors who lived at the filming location, in this case on a ranch. Her inspiration came from Brady Jandreau—a cowboy she had met and befriended on the reservation where she shot her first film—who suffered a severe head injury when thrown from his horse during a rodeo competition. Jandreau would star in the film, playing a fictionalized version of himself as Brady Blackburn. According to an Indiewire article, this film discovers a new side of the Western theme, revolutionary because a Chinese immigrant changing the nation’s “oldest genre”. The article stated that the film became “the type of film it is because of a man and a woman, because the two of us wanted to work together and understand where we were coming from”. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival as part of the Directors’ Fortnight selection and won the Art Cinema Award. It earned her nominations for Best Feature and Best Director at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards. At the same ceremony, Zhao became the inaugural winner of the Bonnie Award, named after Bonnie Tiburzi, which recognizes a mid-career female director. The film was released on April 13, 2018, by Sony Pictures Classics and was critically acclaimed. Peter Keough of The Boston Globe wrote: ” achieves what cinema is capable of at its best: It reproduces a world with such acuteness, fidelity, and empathy that it transcends the mundane and touches on the universal.” In 2018, Zhao directed her third feature film, Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand. The adaptation from Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century was shot over four months traveling the American West in an RV with many actual nomadic workers. Bruder’s book revolved around characters that can be found in the film, such as Linda May, a 64-year-old living in her van and scrounging for jobs in order to buy land for a permenant home. Other characters, such as Bob Wells, a nomad vlogger of CheapRVliving YouTube channel and website and in charge of the annual nomad meet-up featured in the film, are real people that Bruder encountered when writing her book and Zhao included in her movie. The film tells the story of a widower who lost everything in The Great Recession and decides to travel in her van across the American Midwest, beginning a journey of self-discovery. Starring Frances McDormand, the actress and Zhao formed a strong bond quickly and McDormand became a huge element of the filmmaking process and its success, her and Zhao finding inspiration within one another. They met a day before the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards, where McDormand was nominated for Best Actress and Zhao received a $50,000 grant for women directors, both showing excitement at the event and hinting at their future project together. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim and won the Golden Lion award, and subsequently played at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award. The film was released on February 19, 2021, by Searchlight Pictures. Zhao won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director for Nomadland, making her the first woman of Asian descent honored, and only the second woman to win a Golden Globe for directing since Barbra Streisand in 1984. In April 2021, Zhao won the Academy Award for Best Director, becoming the second woman to do so (Kathryn Bigelow being the first). In September 2018, Marvel Studios hired her to direct Eternals, based on the comic book characters of the same name. The film follows the events of the 2019 Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame, featuring a new team of superheroes that must retire in order to fight an ancient emeny of the human race, the Deviants. Zhao was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) and Nick Cassavetes’ The Notebook (2004) in crafting the MCU film. It was released on November 5, 2021. Zhao is both the director and one of the four writers of the film, the other being Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo. After its release, Eternals began receiving negative reviews, The New Yorker stated that Zhao’s style of directing dialogue scenes “reveals the absurdity of the script”, saying “it might as well have been done via green screen, for the little tangibility and texture that it offers the characters and viewers alike”. The article also claimed that the film has reportedly been banned in Saudi Arabi and Kuwait due to the relationship between two male characters, Phastos and Ben. Although the film has received a fair amount of negative reviews, it still made $161.7 million opening weekend and became No. 1 at the box office. On February 15, 2021, Variety reported that with “34 awards season trophies for directing, 13 for screenplay and nine for editing, Chloe Zhao has surpassed Alexander Payne (Sideways) as the most awarded person in a single awards season in the modern era.” In 2021, she appeared on the Time 100, Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Zhao now resides in the Topatopa Mountains in Ojai, California with three chickens, Red, Cebe, and Lucille and two dogs, Taco and Rooster and her partner and cinematographer, Joshua James Richards. Richards and Zhao met while Zhao was researching for her first feature film Songs My Brother Taught Me and Richards was still a film student at NYU. He has been her cinematographer for her next two films and served as camera operator on Marvel’s Eternals. In an Elle article, Richards stated that Zhao was “gnarly and extreme”, someone he wanted to find at film school.