Best-selling author Andrew Morton became a household name after his biography of Princess Diana, "Diana: Her True Story," hit bookstores in the early '90s. After her death, he made public just how much she had collaborated with him. Since then, the former British tabloid journalist has written unauthorized biographies about Tom Cruise, Madonna and Monica Lewinsky.
His latest book, "Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography," delves into the family dysfunction that created celebrity actress Angelina Jolie, daughter of actor Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. The 58-year-old writer follows her from self-mutilation and heroin addiction to an Academy Award and her work with refugees for the United Nations.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: How did your perception of Angelina Jolie evolve or change during the researching and writing of the book?
A: It evolved completely. I mean, like everybody else, I took on board the whole nature of her relationship with her father and mother. The narrative that she told herself and the narrative other people witnessed were completely at variance. So I really had to shift my perception of Angelina, her mother, her father, her brother (James Haven) and the way that family dynamic worked.
Q: Did you find you became more sympathetic toward her?
A: Yeah, I think Angelina has this very chilly, hands-off, rather distant, sex-goddess look about her. But as I looked more at her personality and the drama of her early years, it very much humanized her.
Q: The book chronicles a cycle of dysfunction starting with Angelina's grandmother on her mother's side, of a desire for fame and putting that burden on each succeeding generation. Because Angelina has achieved the dream, will she continue the cycle?
A: I think the children have got enough variety in their lives and enough stimulation that there will be that kind of imposition. But given the fact that they live in an artistic household, as opposed to a scientific one, they are far more likely to go into the performing arts and the arts generally. You know, Brad Pitt is interested in architecture, Angelina is interested in sculpture, and it's going to be intriguing to see how these six children emerge.
Q: She basically grew up in a broken home with very little discipline, and Brad grew up in a traditional family unit. How do you predict that conflict will play out?
A: Yeah, there is conflict. Those people who spoke to me who know the couple today say that the conflict is usually about the children, as it was when Angelina was growing up. It's about boundaries. I think that Jane Pitt, Brad's mother, who spends a lot of time there, has to spend a lot of her time biting her tongue.
Q: Her father left her mother for another woman, and that has reverberated in Angelina's life ever since. She seems to put herself in the role of the other woman in relationships.
A: Absolutely, and it's as though she is constructing a test for them, you know? Where they have to compromise themselves in order to prove themselves. By doing so, they leave themselves open to rejection. They diminish themselves. You are absolutely right. She always used to paint herself as the other girl. The girl who wasn't the clean girl -- wasn't the girl next door. But, she always wanted to be the girl next door and never felt she could be. She felt she was the outsider. She felt she was the one looking in to where the party was going on. As a teenager she felt disenfranchised from herself and from her sexuality.
Q: Is it fair to say she was raised to love the spotlight and loves fame?
A: She actually sought the fame. Billy Bob (Thornton, her ex-husband) was quite articulate about it. He said he's an artist and accepting that fame is the price he has to pay, whereas he could see with Angelina, she craved fame.
Q: Were your sources ever worried about any kind of backlash?
A: From Jon or Angelina? No, I think there's a deeper motivation for this that people haven't really picked up on. It's the fact that the people who have seen the Voight family, the Bertrand family, and have watched the dynamic over the years can see that Angelina is making decisions about her life based on false premises. They've contributed to this book in the hope that she would understand her own life more vividly and more clearly than they could possibly express themselves. That's why this book is very credible and why it is also controversial.
Q: When you set out to uncover a personality, do you start by asking for interviews with the person the book is about and the principals involved?
A: Oh, yeah, I always do that. Quite frankly, it's -- I mean, I have written authorized biographies of Diana and the president of Kenya. I've written unauthorized biographies of footballers, pop stars and actors, and ultimately it's the same. You are asking the same questions: "Who is the person?" and "Why do they behave as they do?" Certainly Brad and Angelina and Jennifer (Aniston, Pitt's ex-wife), the whole lot, are just defined by