In an emotional interview on Thursday’s ”Access Hollywood,” Jon Voight went public about his estrangement from daughter Angelina Jolie, pleading with her fans and handlers to see that she gets help for unspecified ”mental problems” now that she’s split with husband Billy Bob Thornton. He blamed himself for failure to act on her behalf, and he also begged his daughter to let him see his grandchild, the baby she and Thornton adopted just months before she filed for divorce last month.
Voight says his daughter, who won an Oscar for playing a mental patient in ”Girl, Interrupted,” began showing signs of mental illness as an infant. (He divorced Jolie’s mother before their daughter was a year old but says he remained a presence in her life.) He said he was ”brokenhearted…because I’ve been trying to reach my daughter and get her help, and I have failed and I’m sorry. Really I haven’t come forward and addressed the serious mental problems she has spoken about so candidly to the press over the years, but I’ve tried behind the scenes in every way.”
He said he had confronted his daughter a number of times. During the making of ”Girl,” he said she told him, ”You can’t help me! You can’t help my pain!” They had a brief reconciliation when they worked together on ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” but it didn’t last. He said he tried to greet her recently at a Hollywood party, but her manager blocked him and said, ”She doesn’t want to see you.” (The manager tells the story differently, telling ”Access Hollywood” that he interceded because Voight ”aggressively, physically grabbed her against her will.”)
Because of his estrangement from his daughter, Voight said he hadn’t yet seen his grandson, Maddox, the year-old Cambodian boy Jolie and Thornton brought back to the U.S. in May. ”That is the greatest pain,” he said. ”I’d love to help out with the baby.”
Billy Bob Thornton, Voight’s son-in-law of two years, has problems too, Voight said. ”I never had the feeling that they were going to make it because of both of their serious problems, and they’ve both been very public about them, so I never really held out any hope.”
Jolie responded to Voight’s comments in a statement, saying ”I don’t want to make public the reasons for my bad relationship with my father. I will only say that, like every child, [brother] Jamie and I would have loved to have had a warm and loving relationship with our dad. After all these years, I have determined that it is not healthy for me to be around my father, especially now that I am responsible for my own child.”
Jolie is currently preparing to shoot the ”Tomb Raider” sequel, and producer Lawrence Gordon told ”Access Hollywood” that he was unaware of any problems she had that would jeopardize the big-budget franchise. ”I have an excellent team around her,” Gordon said. ”If there was a problem, I would know it.”