The Blog

Le Divorce Terrible

To the shock and dismay of America, Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton have split up. More signs of Apocalypse to follow.

12:15 AM, Jul 26, 2002 • By MATT LABASH
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

PERHAPS it is my imagination, but it seems as though we are in the midst of a full-blown summer funk. While trend writers and editorialists will have you believe this is related to the anticlimax of the war on terrorism or the free-falling Dow, astute culture vultures know what is really ailing us: the dissolution of the marriage of Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton.

Since Jolie filed for divorce earlier this month, citing irreconcilable differences, I, like most Americans (especially those who get paid to feed on human folly), have taken it rather hard. When I'm not drinking to make the pain stop, there's the dyspepsia, the dysphasia, the dysphoria--all the dys-'es really. When I sleep, if I sleep, it is fitfully, until I'm roused by my own involuntary cries in the night of, "Why, God, why?"

While it lasted, the Angelina/Billy Bob union was one that seemed to exist outside of time. Their connection was cosmic, as they had any number of things in common: Both had bizarre physical appearances. She had the feline, Bride-of-Satan eyes and lips like over-filled hot-water bottles. He had the head too big for his gaunt, hillbilly body, and choppers that looked retrofitted from the skull of an ape. Both actors did their best work "playing" mental patients, she in "Girl, Interrupted," he in "Sling Blade." Both seemed genetically incapable of making it through an interview without proclaiming their undying love ("I know it will be forever," said Jolie), or without sharing an embarrassing bedroom aside ("Sex for us is almost too much," said Thornton, adding that he once had to restrain himself "from literally squeezing her to death").

We hoped it might go on forever, like the sky, or the "Law & Order" television franchise. But if we could not foresee its end, we could certainly mark its beginning. Like most star-crossed lovers, these two had plenty of obstacles to overcome. Having met on the set of "Pushing Tin," a film about averting terrible aerial disasters, the two were married in 2000 in a jeans-clad ceremony at the Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.

Their joyous day, however, was marred by others' hurt feelings. For at the time of their nuptials, Thornton was engaged to actress Laura Dern, and Jolie had been romantically linked to her brother, with whom she made out publicly after receiving her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. (Jolie couldn't understand why so many incest speculation stories followed. Perhaps it was because during her acceptance speech, she said, "I'm so in love with my brother." Or maybe it was just the tongue-kissing.)

None of this really bothered them, however. They liked getting married so much, that they did it again--in their Beverly Hills home. "We want to get married in different countries, in different ways, different customs," Jolie told the Los Angeles Times. "We love getting married," seconded Thornton. Indeed, both of them seemed to get married as often as possible. Jolie had tied the knot once before with another actor in a quaint, romantic ceremony in which she wore rubber pants and a t-shirt with the groom's name scrawled on it--in her own blood.

As for the 46-year-old Thornton, Jolie was his fifth wife. The fourth one, Pietra Dawn Thornton, didn't work out so well. In court papers, she accused him of going off his lithium because he said it made him "feel like a piece of driftwood." He also allegedly punched her in the eye while she was holding their 3-month-old son, told her she was pathetic, and threatened to kill her. Likewise, according to her complaint, he repeatedly pushed her, hit her, choked her, and, in an extremely bizarre twist, bit her eight times over a one-year period, "most frequently on my cheeks."

Such allegations might be enough to give a prospective new bride pause. Not Angelina Jolie. To Thornton, it must have been a relief to find out he wasn't the only one with a taste for human flesh. "I have this thing about his earlobe," Jolie told a reporter. "I just want to bite it off so many times." (Soul mates!)

Over the years, Jolie has proven to have a taste for things slightly more exotic than Billy Bob's earlobes. Most celebrities strive to portray themselves as the gosh-golly-stars-next-door. Jolie, too, would fit into this category--if you lived next door to the Manson Family. She is the girl you went to high school with--the one on the outer fringes, who would smoke Raid-laced cigarettes behind the bleachers, or who would maybe ask to borrow your pen knife so she could carve Morrisey lyrics into her leg.