British Vogue is definitely giving us an optimistic “let the sunshine in” vibe with this cover, after a dark and emotionally cold year. That’s interesting given that I don’t know that I’d ever describe Angelina Jolie — in photos, specifically — as a warm cover subject. She is gorgeous, often blindingly so, and she can give “come hither” eyes with the best of them. But in terms of personal radiance, I don’t think she brings you in with photographs; I think she keeps you at arm’s length, so that you can study each other. That’s what I feel here. The photographer has suffused this with a warming glow, a dog, lush greenery, and Vogue smartly slapped a bright orange masthead on it (which I love). She, however, transmits as a little wary of it all, a little tight-lipped, a little remote — which, in a way, maybe seals the visual metaphor. We all want to believe better days are on the doorstep, but many of us are also reluctant to throw our weight behind that hope in case it’s crushed.

In the profile, however, she reads as very relaxed and eloquent, both on the subject of her personal causes and in discussing her life in general. This made me laugh:

“I’m looking forward to my fifties – I feel that I’m gonna hit my stride in my fifties. Though we were on the trampoline the other day, and the children said, ‘No, Mom, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself.’ And I thought, ‘God, isn’t that funny?’ There was a day I was an action star, and now the kids are telling me to get off the trampoline because I’ll hurt myself.”

Angelina is fascinating to me. It’s so easy to get consumed by the dramatic, gossipy stuff — the vials of blood, the knife play, the fact that she was on both sides of Brad Pitt’s two messy divorces — and then someone interviews her, and you remember that she’s also done a lot more than pay lip service to activism. She’s put in work internationally for two decades, and often melded it with her Hollywood career. The angle being pitched for her right now is clearly that she’s an attentive den mother and surprisingly regular person (she wears out her clothes! She’s had this one caftan forever! She and her kids laugh a lot!), but the sum of all the parts means you can’t ever really package her those kinds of easy snack-size bites the way a lot of celebrity PR houses like to do. In the end, you probably won’t ever change your own mind about Angelina after reading an article — how you feel going in is probably how you’ll feel coming out — but there’s something elusive about her where you know you will likely never know the full truth of who she is, and it’s what keeps people coming back, keeps them reading. In a day and age where people overshare on social media in its various formats, that’s some real old-school movie star mystique at work.

Vogue shared another cover with a starkly different feel:


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The orange on here is even better, I think. I love this photo, and the Audrey vibes it emits — though again, always with a bit of distance between subject and audience. She’s not letting you in; she’s just letting you see.

Here’s a nice shot of her hanging out with the kinder:

AJ Vogue March Craig McDean-1612256203

In case you want more dogs, and/or a Dior trench:

AJ_BV March ONLINE-1612217847

We don’t ever find out the dogs’ names. The Internet suggested one of them might be named Dusty? They don’t pop up in the story, other than in a list of animals living in their Los Feliz villa with them. (One interesting thing in the piece: They shot these on Election Day, and Edward Enninful recalls the mood being increasingly “tantalisingly buoyant” as results came in, which is not at ALL how I felt that night; I had a knot of fear that lasted at least two days, I think, before being replaced with a different knot of different fears.) Anyway, is it weird that I saw this and immediately wanted her to star in her own detective series where she solves crimes on film sets? She can even play a version of herself. I’m down with it all.

[Photo by Craig McDean; see the full feature in the March issue of British Vogue. The British Vogue March Global Creativity issue is available via digital download and on newsstands Friday, Feb. 5]