Pop culture lovers of a certain age will remember the 2000 Academy Awards for one reason and one reason only: Angelina Jolie kissing her brother, James Haven, on the lips.
If you need a reminder, the siblings attended the ceremony together, and when Angelina won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted, she shouted James out in her acceptance speech.
She said at the time, “I’m in shock, and I’m so in love with my brother right now. He just held me and said he loves me, and I know he’s so happy for me.”
Later that evening at the Vanity Fair afterparty, Angelina and James posed for photographers and at one point shared a split-second kiss on the lips. Needless to say, that moment took on a life of its own and dominated news headlines in the days that followed.
Angelina addressed the kiss a few months later, telling Entertainment Weekly that there was definitely nothing but “brotherly” love involved. She added at the time, “My parents really loved that moment, and that’s what will always matter.”
And the topic was still coming up years later, with James telling Daily Mail in 2007, “I did not give Angie a French kiss. It was something simple and lovely. She was about to go off to Mexico to finish filming Original Sin with Antonio Banderas. I congratulated her on the Oscar win and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. It was snapped and became a big thing.”
But despite the context of this familial moment of affection, Angelina and James immediately became the butt of incest jokes at the time — and the moment she confronted one of the worst culprits, Jay Leno, has now resurfaced online.
Angelina appeared on Jay’s The Tonight Show in June 2000, shortly after her Las Vegas wedding to actor Billy Bob Thornton and while the kiss was still fresh in everybody’s mind.
Angelina looked comfortable as she sat on Jay’s sofa and prepared for the interview, which started off with the host referencing Billy Bob as he said to her, “I heard a rumor that you guys were a little mad at me because we were doing some jokes about you guys.”
“Were you mad?” he asked. “Were you upset? Does that bother you?”
“I thought maybe I shouldn’t come on and then I read [the jokes], and they were too stupid to really be angry about,” Angelina casually replied. “They really weren’t funny.”
“I’ve been waiting for this,” she went on, pulling out a piece of folded-up paper. “When somebody says stuff about your family, it’s just not OK. And my mom’s just not been OK about the stuff about me and my brother. … Just do me a favor and read these things you’ve said. I highlighted the two that she really appreciated — it made her sick.”
Jay became visibly flustered as he took the paper and dutifully read aloud the highlighted jokes that he’d made about Angelina and her brother. The first referenced the movie Gladiator, with Jay saying, “One of the subplots of the movie is that one of the main characters wants to sleep with his sister. Angelina Jolie called it the feel-good movie of the year.”
The second was, “Y’know how Billy Bob knew Angelina was attracted to him? Because she said he was like a brother to her.” After a brief pause, he asked his guest, “Are those terrible?”
“They’re not terrible,” Angelina agreed. “I actually didn’t highlight the ones that were so terrible, I didn’t want my mom to hear them again.”
“I’m not the only—” Leno then began before Angelina interjected, “No, you’re not the only one, and it’s good of you to jump in with everybody else. Sometimes it’s good to just stand up for something.”
Keeping her cool, she continued, “The funny thing is, there’s some really bizarre stuff you could be saying about me and my life and Billy and my family because we are insane; this isn’t even the half of it.”
Interestingly, Jay then referenced a car accident that Matthew Perry had recently been involved in that hadn’t involved drink or drugs. He said it was “just a stupid car accident,” comparing it to the issue at hand, and added, “If someone has a real problem, alcoholism or drugs or something, you don’t go there, but marriage and sex—”
“And incest?” Angelina interrupted. Jay awkwardly replied, “It’s just a silly joke.”
Angelina then insisted that she wasn’t really that bothered by the jokes, explaining, “Honestly, if I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t be here right now. I just felt I needed to say that, because I think [the audience] get it.”
The audience cheered in agreement, with Angelina then dropping another clanger regarding the jokes about her and Billy Bob, saying to Jay, “You actually sent us a wedding present the day before you insulted us.”
“If you’d actually called me and said, ‘These jokes really hurt my feelings,’ we wouldn’t do the jokes,” Jay said in response. At this point, Angelina drily replied, “We just let you dig a grave, man.”
And when Jay asked if Billy Bob was “mad” at him, she added, “We’ve got other things we are honestly doing at home than talking about you.”
Later in the interview, Angelina gave one final iconic comeback as Jay said that she seemed happier than normal, saying to her, “Other times here, you have a sadness about you.”
“Oh, it’s just the show,” Angelina teased to the cheers of the audience.
Needless to say, people have been left obsessed with Angelina’s confidence and no-nonsense attitude in this resurfaced interview, with one person commenting on a Reddit forum, “Normalize calling men on their shit in public. He thinks he's so clever but the moment she calls him on it he becomes squirmy and uncomfortable.”
“I’d give my left pinky to have an iota of that poise and grace and fucking balls cause holy shit that was masterful,” another added.
“What a delicious public dragging ☺️” one more wrote. Someone else agreed: “I love watching him stutter while she sits there, looking completely at ease. Queen shit.”
“What a legend,” another user commented. “He was trying to backpedal reallll hard and she wasn’t having it.”
“She’s so fucking cool for this,” somebody else concluded.
Angelina is still thought to be incredibly close with her brother, with Us Weekly revealing in 2016 that James was “playing manny” to his sister’s six children as she navigated her high-profile split from Brad Pitt.