But since then, while paparazzi stalk them and entertainment reporters scramble to chase the latest rumor that Jolie and Pitt are finally going to wed, they have emerged as the ultimate Hollywood power couple. They switch off on film projects so one is free to mind their six children, they travel the world talking up good deeds.
"If she wasn't one of the top actresses in Hollywood, she'd be one of the top publicists," said Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com. "It's hard to think of a couple that has a better image in this town, both for their careers, family, humanitarian work. ... They're very good at it, and one of the reasons is they have a very intimate circle that they trust, and they don't go beyond that. It's unusual in Hollywood circles, but they're very strict about their personal life, about what gets out there. When something gets out there, it's usually planned to get out there. It doesn't leak. They don't even have publicists."
A special envoy on refugee issues for the United Nations, Jolie, 37, has become as much about causes as career.
She still makes big studio entertainment such as next year's "Maleficent," a twist on "Sleeping Beauty" in which she stars as the wicked sorceress who puts a curse on the fairy-tale princess. Yet Jolie puts her humanitarian interests on screen, too, making her directing debut with 2011's "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a war drama about two lovers — a Bosnian Muslim woman and a Bosnian-Serbian man — caught up in the horrors of work and rape camps.
"There is no difference between the star Angelina Jolie and the woman Angelina Jolie. The choices she made even as a director are still strong," said Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, where Jolie has been a frequent guest with films such as "Changeling" and "A Mighty Heart."