07/08/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
EVER SINCE SHE WAS A CHILD, ANGELINA Jolie has been drawn to things deadly. She collects daggers, reads books on Vlad the Impaler and has the Japanese word for death tattooed on her shoulder. She planned to be a funeral director. But don't jump to any morbid conclusions, she says: "There's something about death that is comforting. The thought you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate your life now."
A funny thing happened to Jolie, 21, on the way to embalming school: She became an actress. "Maybe there's a little influence in the genes," says her father, Jon Voight, 58, who won a Best Actor Oscar for 1978's Coming Home and who costars with Tom Cruise
in Mission: Impossible, "but she was always fiercely independent." Jolie, who costarred in last year's Hackers—and married one of her castmates, Jonny Lee Miller—insists it was her mother, former actress Marcheline Bertrand, 46, who influenced her. "She loved taking us to the theater," says Jolie, recalling trips with her brother James, now 23, from their home in Palisades, N.Y. Voight, who separated from Bertrand when Jolie was 1, remained in California while the family lived in the East. "He was the perfect example of an artist who couldn't be married," she says. "He had the perfect family, but there's something for him that's very scary about that."
Ultimately, Jolie decided to use her middle name as her last because, she says, "I love my father, but I'm not him." At most auditions, Bertrand says, nobody knew her daughter's bloodlines. Today Voight and Jolie, who lives in Los Angeles, have long phone talks about acting, especially now that she is making movies like Playing God, with David Duchovny, and Foxfire, based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel. The latter, which opens in August, stars Jolie as a tough teen who goes topless and kisses women—"shot pretty tastefully," Jolie says—and she even gets to flash a butterfly knife.