LOS ANGELES (AP) — In her bad girl days, Angelina Jolie's body was a billboard for tattoos that said such things as "Billy Bob."
Now she's sharing intimate details of her anatomy to help women at risk, going public with her preventive double mastectomy to greatly reduce her high odds of breast cancer.
It's the latest peak in Jolie's turn-around from hedonist to humanitarian, party girl to inspirational poster girl. The way she went public with her medical story on her own terms, in her own time — with a New York Times op-ed piece Tuesday that caught the media fishbowl of Hollywood completely by surprise — reveals a woman who once seemed out of control to be one of Hollywood's most forceful and compassionate stars, using her fame with surgical precision to promote matters dear to her.
"I'm in awe of her. She remains one of the most inspiring women that I've ever encountered," said former Paramount Pictures boss Sherry Lansing, who heads the Sherry Lansing Foundation for cancer research. "By letting people know about her personal issue, she is touching countless women who have the same genetic mutations, and she is showing them that they have choices and they can be empowered and can take care of their own health. And by doing so, I believe she is going to save countless lives."
Jolie's come a long way from her wild-child days of 10 or 12 years ago. She was branded a home-wrecker when she took up with Billy Bob Thornton, who broke up with Laura Dern and married Jolie. Thornton and Jolie were a tabloid writer's dream team, an odd couple who wore lockets with a drop of each other's blood.
Back in 2000, Jolie proudly showed off the newest of her 10 tattoos, the name "Billy Bob" etched across her left shoulder. The marriage ended three years later, and new home-wrecker accusations arose after Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Jolie, his co-star in the 2005 assassin adventure "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."