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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004, 11:09 GMT
Angelina Jolie - an actor on a mission?
Gavin Esler and Angelina Jolie
Gavin Esler spoke to Angelina Jolie at Pinewood Studios
In an exclusive HardTalk Extra interview screened on 17 December, Gavin Esler spoke to Angelina Jolie about her life as an actor, ambassador for refugees, anti-landmine activist and mother.

Angelina Jolie is one of the world's most recognisable women.

As an actress she's best-known for her Oscar-winning performance in Girl, Interrupted -- and she's played the video-game action heroine Lara Croft in two Tomb Raider films. And her personal life has gained her almost as many column inches as her movie performances. She's been married twice -- to British actor Jonny Lee Miller, and to Bad Santa star Billy Bob Thornton.
It's angering that not everybody has signed this treaty to ban landmines. It's disgusting, it really is
Angelina Jolie

She could have settled for a comfortable A-list life in Hollywood. Instead, she's become a passionate activist for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Jolie travelled to Cambodia to film the first Tomb Raider film, and she fell in love with the country and its people. She adopted a baby boy -- her son Maddox -- and now owns land there. Seeing first-hand the damage that landmines have wreaked in Cambodia inspired her to take action.

Towards a worldwide landmine ban

Jolie said she's "ashamed" that the US has not signed up to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

"It's angering that not everybody has signed this treaty to ban landmines. It's disgusting, it really is, because it is fact that (mines) hurt a high percentage of civilians. They're not effective in any other real way. They've enough weapons for war."

She told Gavin Esler that if the US signed the Mine Ban Treaty, it would do a lot to influence other countries to comply.

"The most upsetting thing is that the US is a leader in the world, and if they don't sign, then how do you expect to convince Russian and China and Iran, Pakistan, all these other countries, to sign? They simply won't. (The US government) feels it's against their constitutional right to bear arms, or they've said that it's needed in North and South Korea, on the border. I don't think any of these are good enough excuses for the damage."

Spreading awareness of refugees' plight

Jolie has travelled to Sudan, Chad, Chechnya and Sierra Leone on behalf of the UNHCR -- meeting aid workers and refugees living in camps.

"I wish I could do more but I think I'm most useful probably in just spreading awareness. You know, just talking to people who maybe would enjoy a film and would otherwise not care about things in the world.

"I meet some sixteen-year-old girls who suddenly are curious and have looked things up on the web and want to get involved. Hopefully they'll grow up to be active adults and change things. (My role is) just to get people thinking about these things and not forgetting them."

"I know I can do good things"

Jolie said she is immensely fulfilled by her humanitarian work and by being a good mother to Maddox.

She said she is looking to adopt more children and would like to have a multi-racial family -- she would like a "football team" and is considering adopting a child from Africa next.

But Jolie plans to continue acting in films -- she said she loves being an actor and realises that it has given her the opportunity and the ability to speak out about important causes.
My role is just to get people thinking about these things and not forgetting them
Angelina Jolie

"I'm able to take the money and see a hospital built or build a well somewhere. So now when I return (to Hollywood) I'm half working for my family and my son, and half working to send it back into places. It makes me all that more eager to go to work and be successful because I know I can do good things."

HARDtalk Extra can be seen on Fridays on BBC World at 04:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 19:30 GMT and 00:30 GMT.

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

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