After two years at the institute, Jolie left and wanted to become a funeral director. She gravitated towards darker things and struggled with depression during much of this time. She took to knives and inflicting self-harm, moshing at punk shows, tattoos, and drug use. These fascinations and interests caused many around her to see her as a dark and brooding person. And although Jolie will not hide the fact that she has a darker side, she acknowledges the deeper ideas that her "darkness" is rooted in; "There's something about death that is comforting. The thought that you could die tomorrow frees you to appreciate life now." But she kept moving herself forward as she started to model and would occasionally appear in music videos or some of her brother's student films.
Her career began to gain momentum in 1993 with appearances in several small films, including Cyborg 2 (1993), Hackers (1995), and Foxfire (1996). She continued to star in other small films and made-for-TV movies, and gained much attention for her performance in George Wallace (1997) which won her a Golden Globe Award as well as an Emmy Nomination. She followed up her success by playing the lead role in the HBO production of Gia (1998), which brought her another Golden Globe Award, Emmy nomination, and her first Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award. The following year, Jolie propelled herself even further, starring in The Bone Collector (1999) and Girl Interrupted (1999), winning yet another Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, and Academy Award for "Best Leading Actress in a Supporting Role."
All this attention that she was beginning to receive at this point led to the press publicizing many aspects of her personal life that gave her a darker image. At her wedding to her first husband, Johnny Lee Miller, she had his name written on the back of her shirt in her own blood. Then in her second marriage with Billy Bob Thornton, the couple wore a vial of each other's blood around their neck.
Jolie's portrayal of the video game character, Lara Croft, in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) brought her widespread mainstream success. One of the locations visited during the shooting process was Cambodia, and while there, she was taken by the natural beauty, culture, and poverty, calling the humanitarian in her to action. She began visiting refugee camps around the world and became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Since then, Jolie's career has continued to flourish, with performances in many movies, including Original Sin (2001), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Beyond Borders (2003), Shark Tale (2004), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), Kung Fu Panda (2008), Changeling (2008), and Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). In 2002, Jolie adopted a Cambodian refugee boy, Maddox, and in 2005, adopted an Ethiopian refugee girl, Zahara. During the shooting of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), she became quite close with co-star, Brad Pitt, but nothing came of it since she decided she could not live with herself if she had an affair with a married man; "To be intimate with a married man, when my own father cheated on my mother, is not something I could forgive. I could not look at myself in the morning, if I did that."
However, shortly after, Pitt divorced his wife, Jennifer Aniston, and began spending more time with Jolie. They hit it off nicely and have developed a strong bond over the years; "(He made me) a better person. I've learned so much from him, as you do when you come together with another person. You both make each other better. You both learn about the best of each other, and recognize the things where you're failing, or where you need to step up. When it's a great partnership, you really are patient with each other." He joined her on the trip to Ethiopia to pick up Zahara, and also made the decision to share custody over Maddox and Zahara.
In 2006 Pitt and Jolie went to Namibia where she gave birth to their first biological daughter, Shiloh Nouvel. The couple sold the first pictures of the newborn through the distributor Getty Images, and then donated the profits to charities helping African children. In 2007 she adopted Pax Thien from an orphanage in Vietnam, and shortly after, Pitt was also given custody. In 2008, Jolie gave birth to twins, Knox LÃ©on and Vivienne Marcheline. The couple once again sold the first pictures of their children and used the profits for the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. The couple continues to follow their film and humanitarian interests.