Dressed as an unlikely cowboy, with his hat and boots, the rigid tenderness of that Texan glass washer who arrived in New York with the illusion of making easy money from the hand of his handsome demeanor and his clear eyes, and instead found the deepest friendship right on the sidewalk of the forgotten – there where Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso popularized the line: “Hey! I’m walking here! ”-, it opened forever to Jon voight the gates of Hollywood. It was 1969 and his debut as Joe Buck in Midnight cowboy received a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars. It did not win, but the film did win three awards – Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay – an absolute milestone after being rated only suitable for adults.
It was also not true that Voight was a Texan: born Jonathan Vincent Voight on December 29, 1938 in Yonkers, the son of a golfer, the grandson of Germans and Slovenes – hence his Caucasian ancestry – and raised as a Catholic by his housewife mother. , It was more New Yorker than the bagels. The role of hard-tender was a stamp of origin that was to remain engraved on him in those years that marked the successful takeoff of his career. As in ’73, when he played in a theater in Buffalo, New York, none other than Stanley Kowalski: the character in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire was the epitome of the life force and the new; the passionate and supplying male, loyal to his friends, but also beastly and deeply cruel. Voight was born to be a heartthrob of his time – like Brando, who did not happen to do the most famous version of Kowalski – and putting himself in the shoes of Blanche DuBois’ brother-in-law for more than a year was almost a rite of passage.
The decade of his film debut was relentless between shootings, and each premiere was a critical and box-office event: paradoxically, Hollywood had found a new beloved son in that gigolo that no one looked at. He had the luxury of saying no to Steven Spielberg for the role that Richard Dreyfuss later accepted in Jaws (1975), but that turned down paid off; in 1978 he would play a cynical and paraplegic Vietnam veteran with whom Jane Fonda fell madly in love in Coming Home. The two won the Oscars for their extraordinary performances.
The rooms had to be vacated in 1979, because people kept crying after the titles of El Campeón. In Spanish-speaking countries, many of us continue to watch the movie dubbed into Spanish decades later, repeated once a month on the regular Saturday schedule. Again the character of the tough and tender male, hardened by poverty, who did so well, now also in charge of a child when the morals of his time found it inexplicable – and for the same reason, worthy of a crown no matter what. What happened in the ring – that he assumed his responsibilities as a father and there was no way that Faye Dunaway would be liked by anyone when he returned to claim him by showering him with gifts. If Voight had already played an immature boxer in All american boys (1973), with the old champion fighting again to get his son back, suddenly every blow was justified. The audience loved him to tears without questioning too much.
In real life, the actor had had a brief marriage to Lauri peters, who he met in the musical The sound of Music, in 1962, and he remarried the beautiful actress Marcheline bertrand in 1971. They had James haven, on May 11, 1973, already Angelina Jolie, on June 4, 1975. By the time El Campeón was shot, Voight was breaking up after years of systematically cheating on his wife. The divorce became official in 1980. He never remarried. Since then, he had an erratic relationship with his children.
In 1982, at just 6 years old, Angelina played her daughter in the comedy Lookin ‘to get out. Outside of fiction, the relationship was not very fluid. Only in 2001 did they act together again, again as father and daughter, in the blockbuster Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. By then, Angelina had surpassed Jon in popularity. A year earlier, in her speech when she received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Inocencia Interrupted, she said: “Dad, you are a huge actor, but you are a better father.” It seemed that the years away were over.
But in 2002, in an interview with Access Hollywood, Voight was concerned about his daughter’s mental health after her divorce from Billy Bob Thornton, and said they were problems that dragged on since she was a child. He had wanted to hug her at a Paramount party, and his representatives stopped him: “It’s because I told him to get help.” Angelina’s manager had a different version: “He grabbed her violently, against her will.”
“I don’t want to go public with the reasons for my bad relationship with my father. I will just say that, like every boy, my brother Jamie and I wish we had a warm and loving relationship with our dad. And after all these years, I understood that it is not healthy for me to have him around. Especially now that I am responsible for my own child ”, Jolie told Premiere in 2004, when she already had Maddox. His father’s statements during the adoption had jeopardized the entire process before the Cambodian authorities. They did not speak for five years. “I am not mad at him. But I don’t think someone’s family is determined by blood. My son is adopted, families are won. So when I had my last discussion with my father – we had many twists and turns – my last disappointment, I realized that it was over, “said who never used the last name Voight in her acting careerFirst, because she felt closer to her mother, and second, so that she could be considered for her own talent.
As for Jon’s talent, although undeniable, he seemed asleep or relegated to sporadic appearances since the Golden Globe for Runaway Train in ’85. In the nineties he made films for television and was featured in Heat (1995) with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. And in 2000, with the world’s eyes on Angelina, she had returned with notable roles in biopics, such as Howard Cosell’s Ali (2001), Her Nazi Officer Uprising (2001), and the Roosevelt of Pearl Harbor (2001). ), as well as Pope John Paul in the 2005 miniseries of the same name.
When Marcheline Bertrand died of breast cancer, At only 56 years old, in 2007, Angelina broke the silence with Jon to warn him: “My mother did not miss anything in her life except meeting her grandchildren,” the actress said at the time. At nearly 70, Voight was on time and desperate to get closer to his daughter and those grandchildren.: the tough Hollywood macho was beginning to have the tender side that the studios had seen in him from the first moment.
The intercession of Brad Pitt, then in a couple with Jolie, was key. On Christmas 2008, Voight received the call that he had waited for years. “We talk and we are going to try to get to know each other and even if we do not become ‘a daddy and his little daughter’, we are going to try to be for each other as friends from here on in the years that follow,” she said. Yes indeed, Nor was he such a close friend that Jolie invited him to her wedding to Pitt in 2014. Anyway, Jon, who was not even aware, was pleased.
I was in a good time. A year earlier, the Ray Donovan series had given him the opportunity to play an almost tailor-made role to exorcise his own role as a conflicted star father who seeks to mend himself, but cannot with his ego. His Michael Donovan earned him the fourth Golden Globe of his career, In 2014, and incidentally, he returned him to the boxing climate that always suited him so well.
The divorce of Pitt and Jolie was another door through which to approach his daughter that he was not going to miss. Perhaps maturity and her own experience made her see that the sentences towards parents sometimes omit the most important thing: that most of them always do the best they can for us. And Jon was there for her and her six children, ready to make up for past absences and mistakes.
In September 2017, They arrived together at the premiere of First They Killed My Father, the fourth film directed by Angelina, on the genocide in Cambodia. It was a tribute to the story of his eldest son, Maddox, who was the executive producer, but also to that of that grandfather who was “the main support” of the boys throughout their parents’ separation, the father who, in The highest of his career also denounced the atrocities in Vietnam. The one who, as in the famous phrase of his Luke Martin in Coming Home, He no longer feels ashamed or ashamed of himself. The one who is much more intelligent now, because he knows that there is a chance to change things. Arm in arm, for the first time in years, father and daughter entered a public event together and smiling, and in that single gesture, recorded by paparazzi from all over the world, two generations had healed. Or at least they had decided to start doing it.
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The 83 of Jon Voight: the tough cowboy who did not speak for years with his daughter Angelina Jolie and reconciled in time