"Whoa, I don't know what's happening. I might pass out," says Billy Bob Thorton upon peeking at the contents of an envelope. Inside are black-and-white publicity portraits autographed by Steve Burn, the star of Nickelodeon's popular children's television series Blue's Clues, and going through them leaves Thorton breathless. They have a similarly dramatic effect on his wife, Angelina Jolie, who appears to develop a nervous tremor from teh excitement as she shuffles through the pack, finally exclaiming "Oh, my God!"
"We're big fans of Steve's," Thorton tries to explain.
"We need to go on Blue's Clues," says Jolie.
Mind you, these are two Oscar winners seated at a table poolside at the posh Sunset Marquis Hotel, and they're losing it over teh star of a kids' TV show. But that's just the beginning of an afternoon with the hands-down most passionate married couple in Hollywood. If you like your beer cold, your steaks raw, and you Saturday nights tinged with the smell of Gasoline, settle in: These are your kind of folk.
In this freewheeling US Weekly-exclusive conversation. Thorton and Jolie (the star of the hit movie Gone in 60 Seconds) open the door to secrets of their fiery romance. But first, a brief history (brief because, as you'll hear them say, "Time means nothing to us, except the time we spend together").
In 1977, Thorton, then 21 drove to Los Angeles from his Arkansas home with a buddy to make it in show busines. Four marriages. three kids, and one heart seizure later, he is a fiercely talented presence who won the 1996 Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for the intense drama Sling Blade (which he also starred and directed). Thorton, 44, recently finished directing Matt Damon in what people are saying is a masterful adaptation of the bestselling novel All The Pretty Horses.
Jolie, 25, was a toddler when her dad, Oscar winner Jon Voight, split from her mother, the stunning French actress Marcheline Bertrand, and nothing has been easy since. As Jolie emerged from her Best Supporting Actress Oscar role in 1999's Girl, Interrupted as the electrifying actress of her generation, her resume included one previos marriage, a reputation as a self mutilator, a fondness for knives, rumors of heroin abuse, emotional instability, 10 tattoos and speculation she might have slept with her brother.
Jolie and Thorton met in 1998 while playing husband and wife in the movie Pushing Tin. They got together ealier this year, though it wasn't public knowledge until the first week of april, when Jolie had Billy bob tattooed on her left arm. On May 5 they had a quickie marriage ceremony in Las Vegas. Some people see their relationship as a love connection, while others are braced for the train wreck.
In person, they are the perfect match. Hard on the outside, they have soft, chewy, fun, whacked-if not slightly scary centers. "He writes things and shares thoughs and we talk about things all the time," says Jolie. "It's beautiful."
Forget unconditional love. Thorton an dJolie have unbounded love, the kind of perpetually boiling body heat that inspires poets and pay-per-view programming. "We'd seen each other's work," he says. "So we made perfect sense to each other before we ever met," concludes Jolie, who is an intoxicating beauty in blue jeansand a T-shirt. Her black hair is down and loose. Contrary to rumors that she is waifish and bruised, she looks healthy. She laughs easily and often. Thorton, in brown corduroys and half buttoned yellow shirt that barely adheres to his railthin frame, has his own low-key charm, too, though the first impression is, as he puts it, of a "junkyard dog."
Oblivious to stares and whispers they provoke as they pick at lunch on this afternoon (she has a glass of merlot and Chinese chicken salad with dressing on the side; he has papaya and a beer), the touch, laugh at private jokes, share secrets, grunt, groan, and generally turn each other on at the slightest-even silliest provocation. "Did you see how she moved that wineglass?" Thorton asks suddenly. "To me, that's almost sex. No, it is sex."
Moment later, he mentions his Foosball table, causing guttural, animal like noise come from Jolie. "Sometimes I'll just hear him say a word and want to take him up to the room immediately," she says.
"She does this thing with her foot," Thorton says later. "You can't imagine."
Maybe that's for the best. Two days earlier they left little to the imagination while walking, or rather groping, their way down the red carpet at the premiere of Gone in 60 Seconds. Earlier today, they accompanied the woman who is teaching Jolie how to box for the physically challenging role of Lara Croft in the action film Tomb Raider to get her first tattoo. "We were there for support," says Thorton, who rolls up his pant leg to reveal the latest in his own collection of skin art-a colorful mushroom on his right calf with the name Angie inside it. "I've been wainting to do that," he says.
Like typical newlyweds. Thorton and Jolie just purchase a home in L.A., and today they are buzzing with decorating ideas, from installation of his foosball table to talk of a padded room-"for those moments in teh middle of the night when you want to kill each other because you're so inlove," explains Jolie. "We can go crazy." Their taste includes a Velcro Wall. "It's just because we want to be in those suits standing right together in our living room in the middle of the night," says Jolie. Adds Thorton, laughingly, "I can see where I might say, 'Honey, get me down,' and she'll go to bed. And that's what I love about her."
A few hours from now, Jolie is going back to London, where she's in production on Tomb Raider, and their impending separation finds them itching-at times it seems aching-to get back to their room. "It's sick how happy we are," says Jolie, "You know, I used to hate people like us."
Is it possible for you two to stop nibbling on each other for a few minutes?
Angelina: Probably not.
I'm surprised you're such fans of Blue's Clues.
Billy Bob: We're really into Steves, people named Steve.
Angelina: And the Crocodile Hunter guy. He's a Steve.
Yeah, Steve Irwin.
Billy Bob: We're so into him. We want to go hunting with him for a Komodo dragon. Or maybe that's too much. Maybe for Cobras.
I get the feeling we're jumping into this too quickly. Let me back up and ask the first question everybody wants to know: When did the two of you first get together?
Angelina: It feels like we've known each other forever, so that's a funny question.
Billy Bob: We met at the dawn of time, I think. In a kind of supernatural way.
Angelina: We've talked about it since, but we were very aware of each other in the way you know about somebody out there and somehow they're having an effect on you, and you don't understand why until you meet them.
And what about the official meeting?
Billy Bob: In Toronto, when we made Pushing Tin. The actual first time was in an elevator. [To Angelina] I should let you take over from here.
Angelina: He said hi, and I walked intot he wall. Then he got in a car to go try on some pants-look, I'm eating my cigarette as I say that-and I went around the corner and caught my breath. I didn't knwo what to do.
Angelina: We became friends in a really amazing way. I just wanted to be near him all the time. And I missed being around him when work was over.
Did you keep in contact afterward?
Angelina: We talked on the every once in a while. But there was nothing we could do. We couldn't entertain the idea of it becoming anything else because the situation wasn't available. I was actually forced to be in a room with him a lot because of different business functions, and it was so hard. I almost couldn't talk to him sometimes. I'd wonder why I felt so much for someone I hardly knew.
Billy Bob: In retrospect, you find out you knew everything. You think back and know oyu were desperate for someone you couldn't be with. You shut off a part of yourself because if you let yourself feel it, you won't be able to live with it.
Angelina: My life completely changed when I met him-just knowing there was someone like him alive. But without him, a part of me always felt empty.
So when were you finally able to be together?
Angelina: I was like there was nothing else before.
Billy Bob: There was a day when I knew that my life needed to change and I walked-no, I drove- to her and said, "Can you meet me in five minute? We can be together now," And we have been every since.
Angelina: We came to this hotel, actually.
What was it like?
Angelina: I felt like I came alive that night. And every day and every second since, it's been more intense and better and more beautiful. I look at him and nothing else matters. We just takled that night. We talked and looked at each other.
Can you express what it is you love about each other?
Billy Bob: Honestly, and it's like a big statement to make, she's truly the only person who I can actually say I love and respect everything about her.
Angelina: I feel the same way about him. We nearly kill each other.
Billy Bob: We do.
Angelina: You know when you love someone so much you can almost kill them? I nearly was killed last night, and it was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.
What happened last night?
Billy Bob: I was looking at her sleep and I had to restrain myself from literally squeezing her to death. Sex for us is almost too much. It's so intense that sometimes we can look at each other and think, " You know what, we can't get into this right now or something's going to happen."
Billy Bob: People say certain things to each other, "I love you." "You mean everything to me." Stuff like that. Everybody says them. Tehn one day you find the person who you are honestly put here to be with and you realize that now when you say those things, you really mean them.
Angelina: Until I met him, I had no idea how much you can love a someone.
So what was it like when you finally made love for the first time?
Angelina: It's shocking how much a human being is capable of feeling and how great it feels. It's shocking what two people can do to each other. I had no idea.
Billy Bob: There's actually a sixth sense to it.
Are you telling me that you see dead people?
Angelina: It's just not normal. The other day we were mentioning how I needed to get one of those heart monitors on me becaus eI'm convinced I'm going to have a heart attack. He kidded me the other day and I nearly fainted. I swear on my family's lives, I nearly fell over.
From what I know, the first time anyone knew you were together was when Angie got Billy Bob tattoed on her arm. Is there a story about getting that tattoo?
Angelina: It's actually the second time I've gotten his name. The other one is a place where nobody's ever seen.
OK, where is it?
Angelina: How do you say that?
Billy Bob: You can't print it?
[I have a feeling it's a word they frequently say on The View. Thorton says it's true.]
Angelina: I got that for me. It represents everything I bellieve in and who he is.
But about the tattoo on your arm?
Angelina: It was finally a day I felt I could get it. I'd wanted it forever. Finally we were together. There wasn't much thought put into it. But from getting tattooed to getting married, there never seems to be any question.
Billy Bob: Everything we do is pretty much a natural course of action.
Before I ask about the wedding, I have to ask Billy Bob one vital question: What about the relationship you were in with Laura Dern?
Billy Bob: God bless her. I hope she's so happy. I want her to be happy. But it was over. That's all.
Billy Bob: I always wanted to say to people I had relationships with " You know what, why do you go to the movies and cry at that shit? Give it to me. Push me out the window. Kiss me until I bleed." And Angie does that to me. She does it. And I do it. When we read a poem or we see a movie, we're capable of it. That's the best way to describe this relationship. It's like, I will go through you. She will go through me. I'm terrified of flying. But I will fly anywhere int eh deepest, darkest jungle inm a plane with half a propeller for her. I know people are saying "Oh, she's the next one." Or "Oh, he's the next one." But they're wrong, and they'll be proven wrong.
Angelina: And not only are we capable of everything he said-it's beyond.
When did you decide to get married?
Billy Bob: Subconsciously, we decided a few years ago.
Angelina: Before we knew it, we were saying that we felt married. We didn't do it to feel committed. But it was something that would make me the happiest woman in the world, and I just wanted it. It was going to be a great day.
There was a story that before the wedding, you two drove to L.A. from Arkansas in a motor home, had a terrible fight and Angie checked into the psych ward at UCLA.
Billy Bob: There are certain things that are true and not true about that.
Angelina: If I lost him, you can bet that I'd go completely nuts. If something happened to him, yes, I'd need help.
What's the true part?
Billy Bob: To put it in simple terms, we wanted to get married and we couldn't at the time. We soberly wanted to make sure feelings didn't get hurt.
Angelina: We were becoming a family, and we had a family to think about; my family and his mother, his children, his ex-wife and everything. We wanted everybody's blessings.
Billy Bob: So we did wait, and it kind of made us both spin out a little. I was in Nashville, she was back in L.A., and looming above us was the fact she had to leave for London soon.
Angelina: When I couldn't be near him, I started to go nuts. Then I couldn't find him. I thought I'd lost him. And I'm human. I felt lost and got sad to a point where I wasn't thinking clearly. If I'd been able to find him, I would've been fine. But I didn't want to hurt myself or anyone else. So I went into the hospital to make sure my blood pressure was normal and they ended up saying "Mayeb you should take a rest for a few days." And that was it. After a day or two, we found each other, and then I got better.
Your actions say a lot.
Angelina: If anything they say I know how to take care of myself, because my life is very important to me now. And he takes care of me. He's made me feel safe and calm for the first time in my life, and I feel like somebody really does know how to make everything OK when I don't.
Billy Bob: We believe in each other, and it gives us both something we never had. We're sort of like junkyard dogs. People don't believe in people like us. But I believe in her.
And then you got married?
Billy Bob: I said, "You're back in L.A. and you're sick from it, and I'm here and I'm sick of it. I need to take care of you. I need to look you in the eye. I'll meet you in Vegas." That's how it went down. In plain and simple terms, we couldn't wait.
Angelina: Our famalies were behind us. Our parents were waiting to know when to get in teh car and meet us wherever. The night before we went to Vegas, my whole family was there to pack a bag with me and send me off. They were so happy.
It must have been a relief to say "I do."
Billy Bob:the wedding was perfect for us. It was cheesy and beautiful and profound and intense and lighthearted and humouras. I t was everything.
Angelina: It was special because it was just another day in our lives when we were going to say the things that we've always felt and always will feel.
I don't see a diamond ring.
Billy Bob: We were in a hotel bar. I said, "I'll be right back." I asked a woman if there was anyplace to buy a ring. She pointed me to a jewelry store in the hotel lobby. But all the rings looked like something Zsa Zsa Gabor would wear. I found a woman outside with a jewelry cart and picked out a ring for 29 bucks. I'd never seen anything like it, and I've neve rseen anything liek Angie, that's the idea, isn't it? Get something that has meaning.
So there was no argument in the motor home?
Angelina: We'd never have an argument in a Winnebago. We'd be way to happy.
Billy Bob: And, frankly, we don't have arguments. If I did anything to hurt her, I'd expect her to kick my ass.
Angelina: He'd do the same thing to me. I'd want him to.
You must be aware of how your marriage is percieved by th public-that people expect you to spontaneously combust.
Angelina: We might. But it'll be from the sex.
Billy Bob: Spontaneous combustion is totally possible. But it'll be together.
Angelina: All the reasons people think it won't last are all the rasons why they know deep down we're perfect for ach other.
In the months before your wedding-and just in general-there were rumors that you, Angelina, were hooked on heroin and headed for rehab. True or False?
Angelina: False. I'm also not sleeping with my brother. The truth is that befpore [Bilyl Bob and I] finally got together, I wa sliving without him and not happy and dealing with a lot of stuff in my life that was normal life stuff about being lonely and crazy. Rumors about all that-the reality is they aren't funny. It's a serious illness. I would hope that if I ever did need treatment, which I won't, but-
Billy Bob: I want to interrupt. I like to say things that are true and say them hard. She does not take drugs.
Angelina: And he wouldn't let me.
Do you see yourselves ever having kid?
Billy Bob: That's probably going to be something we can't help. I'm sure that's probably going to just happen.
Angelina: When you're with someone and when you feel what we feel, it's very strange and shocking to me that I'm not pregnant. Except I'm on the pill. But I still think he could get through it sometime.
You're going back to England later today. how hard is that on you?
Billy Bob [gripping his beer]: I almost broke the glass.
Angelina: I write him every day. Constantly. I'm obsessive about it. If there's a thunderstorm, it's so much like him that I'm happy about getting soaked to the bone as I walk down the streets, because it feels like he's with me.
Do either of you ever get jealous?
Angelina: Oh, terribly. I would kill anyone who even looked at him the wrong way. But he has no need to be jealous.
Billy Bob: And she knows I never will.
I know you only have so much more time together, so let me ask this: We talked about how great the sex was the first time you were together. How about now?
Angelina: Want us to show you?
Please, no, I live in the Valley.
Billy Bob: No, you're going to get it, Valley boy.
Seriously. how great is the sex?
Billy Bob: God, last night...
Angelina: It's amazing that we actually leave the room-ever. But you know what? IT's beautiful and I think I'm going to die every few minutes. Then I feel so complete and safe and warm and in love and then I just feel like I'm on fire and I'm so excited and I didn't know I could feel that through my entire body.
Billy Bob [to Angelina]: Let's go.