When other stars say they are moving on after a breakup, it might mean changing yoga instructors. For Jolie it has meant constructing a new home – built on stilts in a Cambodian jungle once occupied by brutal Khmer Rouge forces. "They've removed 48 unexploded land mines so far," says Jolie, who also has a home outside London. "I'm sure some people will question why I'm bringing my son into an area with land mines. When I looked around, I saw other families and thought, 'Why shouldn't I?' I'm happy there."
She already has had to contend with more personal hostilities in her hometown of Beverly Hills. On July 21 Voight – her long-estranged father, with whom she had reconciled briefly when he played a role in the first Tomb Raider – told Inside Edition that Jolie "has found very clever ways to mask her extreme problems"; a year earlier similar comments called into question his daughter's mothering ability. "My father had never seen me – and he still hasn't – with my baby," says the actress, who has dropped Voight as her legal surname. For his part Voight, 64, told Inside Edition, "I'm her dad and I love her, no matter what she says about me." Jolie says her father's views are misplaced. Acknowledging "I've been self-destructive my whole life and had my times when I wasn't healthy," she adds, "Last year was probably the cleanest and healthiest year of my life."
Which doesn't mean that Jolie has ditched her dark side. "From early on I felt a sense of wild, a fight in me," she notes. Jolie says her dad left the family when she was 6 months old; she and brother James, 30, were raised by their mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, 53, in Palisades, N.Y., and later in L.A. As an adolescent she considered funeral work and took at-home courses on how to prepare bodies for burial. She also grappled with an eating disorder, insomnia and self-mutilation, or cutting. "I had a lot of sadness and distrust," she says. "I came very close to the end of my life a few times." Jolie won't elaborate ("The stories tend to come out with a certain shock value, rather than an explanation that might be helpful to a 13-year-old") but does say, "I think all the self-destruction comes from wanting to disappear, because I didn't know where to put myself."
This is an online excerpt of PEOPLE magazine's cover package.
– MICHELLE TAUBER
– TODD GOLD in Los Angeles
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