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
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The daughter of actor Jon Voight (he split when she was little), Jolie has cultivated a unique set of interests. She aspired to be a funeral director, read widely about Vlad the Impaler, and nursed a crush on Spock (the Vulcan, not the pediatrician). Reality was always something of a let-down. As Jolie told one interviewer, "I remember being very upset that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't a vampire."

It seems she sold herself short on both counts. By any pedestrian definition, Jolie would pass as plenty nuts. As a teenager, she experimented with purple hair, lesbianism, and a surfeit of tattoos. But her true passion was collecting spears, battle axes, and knives (she has a weapons room in her home). Without much opportunity to play with her toys, Jolie began carving herself up for sport. "You're young, you're crazy, you're in bed, and you've got knives. So s--- happens," she explained.

On the Nosferatu front, Jolie is also no slouch. Not only did she buy Billy Bob his'n'hers burial plots, but also matching necklace vials in which they wore each other's blood. If you believe her press clippings, Jolie's bloodlust is insatiable. Not only has she claimed to cut herself before sex, but she's played down her blood drives as "corny romantic" foreplay ("If there was a safe way to drink [Thornton's] blood, I'd love to," she told Rolling Stone). While most celebrities throw hissy fits over imagined atrocities, like PA's forgetting to extract the vanilla from their Vanilla Coke, Jolie reportedly went ballistic at a photo shoot in which an assistant asked her to remove her ghoulish pendant. "That's my husband's blood!" she screamed.

Make no mistake, Billy Bob has plenty of his own eccentricities. Over the years he has been dogged by either rumors or admissions that he: eats nothing but orange food (pumpkins, papayas, etc), likes the taste of squirrel, and has deep, abiding fears of ferries, metal spoons, and antique furniture. In 1998, after having dropped from 197 to 138 pounds, he admitted he was anorexic. "For a while there," he said, "I think I had a little mental problem."

Together, these two put the "crazy" in "crazy love." Angelina loved Billy Bob so much that when she played Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider," she insisted her character needed an electric chair in her room because "Billy got electrocuted in a movie this year, so it was romantic for me to have it." Billy Bob loved Angelina so much that he admitted to wearing his wife's pink panties: "I like having her close to me, you know?"

There is, of course, an immutable law of celebrity: The more nauseatingly and insistently two stars proclaim their togetherness, the closer they are to coming apart. (Witness Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Jennifer Lopez and Puffy, or America's Sweetheart, Julia Roberts, who has declared her eternal devotion to everything that moves, and several things that don't). Meanwhile, celebrity couples that evidence staying power, like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, tend not to conduct interviews with their legs coiled around each other's heads. A stable marriage is about more than wearing each other's panties and draining each other's blood. Sure, that's part of it. But these things are no substitute for the things that really matter: responsibility, fidelity, mental stability.

Now Billy Bob and Angelina's marriage-as-performance-art has come to an abrupt halt. Earlier this year, they adopted a Cambodian baby that they named "Maddox," nicknaming him, appropriately enough, "Madness." "We'll never be apart," Thornton vowed. "We'll both be with the child. All the time, see." But a few days later, he'd taken off with his hobby band to tour behind his album, "Private Radio." As reports dribbled out that the two split up after having not seen each other for weeks, Thornton's publicist initially chalked it up to a scheduling conflict. According to the tabloids, it was indeed: Thornton had scheduled lots of noogie with slutty waitresses and groupies. Jolie hadn't. Whatever the truth, Jolie formally confirmed to US Weekly that, "It's clear to me that our priorities shifted overnight."

Now, serious Angelina/Billy Bob watchers (are there any other kind?) are wondering how exactly she'll handle this. I'm not proud to say it, but while some offices have college basketball pools, ours has a celebrity death-watch over/under line. If Jolie cashes out in the next three years, either by her own hand or the hand of fate, America will mourn. And so will I--over a 32-ounce porterhouse at Morton's, courtesy of my web editor.

Cavalier as that sounds, I'm not the one with the death wish, Jolie is. She once said, "I live by the creed that I might die tomorrow. In fact, I'm surprised I'm still here." In fact, she almost insured she wasn't. As she told the Internet Movie Database, "This is going to sound insane, but there was a time I was going to hire somebody to kill me." (Jolie, insane? No way.)