Angelina Jolie Confessed Why Her Marriage To Brad Pitt Really Ended

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were once the most glamorous couple in Hollywood. But as the A-listers learned, you need more than impossibly good looks to make a marriage work. And after 12 years together – and amid a cloud of speculation – the pair nicknamed Brangelina famously went their separate ways. So, what exactly went wrong? Well, Jolie has since opened up about the end of her marriage – and what she had to say was heartbreaking.

As fans know, Jolie and Pitt first got together in arguably the most tabloid-baiting way possible. The two initially encountered each other on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, when Pitt was of course still wed to Friends star Jennifer Aniston. And rumors soon surfaced that the action comedy’s stars had embarked on an affair during filming – something that Jolie furiously denied.

In any case, Pitt and Aniston divorced in October 2005 – just three months before Jolie revealed that she was expecting the Fight Club actor’s child. She and Pitt would eventually have six kids together, including three adopted children. And after nearly a decade together, they finally walked down the aisle at a ceremony in the French region of Correns in 2014.

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Sadly, married life didn’t seem to suit the once-happy duo, as in 2016 they announced their separation. And Jolie and Pitt officially divorced three years later, following lengthy and often fraught discussions about their custody arrangements. But why did it all come crashing down?

Well, as the daughter of Hollywood legend Jon Voight and occasional actress Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie was perhaps always destined to end up on the big screen. She first caught attention as a model, however, before honing her acting talents at NYU and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. And Jolie’s film debut as an adult was rather inauspicious; she had just a minor part in maligned sci-fi sequel Cyborg 2.

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Jolie had her big break in 1995, though, when she starred opposite future husband Jonny Lee Miller in the cult classic Hackers. And over the next few years, her hard work paid off in spades. The star scooped a Golden Globe for her portrayal as the eponymous governor’s wife in George Wallace; she also picked up an Emmy nod for her leading role in Gia. Further success beckoned, too, after she joined the all-star casts of both Playing by Heart and Pushing Tin.

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Then, in 2000, Jolie’s stock rose even higher when she was awarded Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her performance in Girl, Interrupted. Capitalizing on her win, she scored a box-office hit with the fast and furious caper Gone in Sixty Seconds. And in 2001 the actress headlined a blockbuster, appearing in the iconic role of Lara Croft in the first of two Tomb Raider adventures.

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An in-demand Jolie then appeared alongside Colin Farrell in historical epic Alexander and Jude Law in sci-fi Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Her prolific streak continued after that, too, with a part in Taking Lives and a voiceover gig in Dreamworks animation Shark Tale. But in 2005 Jolie landed a role in the film that would ultimately change her life. This, of course, was Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

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And after adding to her filmography with parts in The Good Shepherd and Beowulf, Jolie received further awards recognition for both A Mighty Heart and The Changeling. The likes of The Tourist, Wanted and Salt proved, however, that she could still take on more popular fare. Kung Fu Panda drew in audiences, too; Jolie voiced Tigress in the animated hit.

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In 2012, though, Jolie proved that her talents extended beyond acting when In the Land of Blood and Honey hit movie theaters. The Bosnian war drama – which Jolie had directed – received positive reviews, as did her follow-up Unbroken. Her third directorial effort, By the Sea, was by contrast given a critical drubbing upon its 2015 release.

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Jolie got things back on track in 2017, though, with First They Killed My Father – a challenging Khmer Rouge-era drama that picked up nominations at both the BAFTAs and Golden Globes. Then, two years later, she once again portrayed the eponymous wicked witch in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. With a worldwide gross of roughly $600 million, the 2014 predecessor to the fantasy flick had been the biggest commercial smash of Jolie’s career.

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Yet Jolie’s eventful love life has often taken the focus away from her considerable talents as an actress and director. Her first high-profile romance came in the mid-1990s, when she began dating her Hackers co-star Jonny Lee Miller. And the pair ultimately said ‘I do’ at a ceremony in which Jolie sported a white T-shirt and black pants made of rubber. Bizarrely, she also used her blood to emblazon her top with Miller’s name.

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Miller and Jolie separated just a year later, though, and were officially divorced in 1999. Still, the actress wasted little time in moving on. Indeed, in the summer of 2000, she walked down the aisle with another Hollywood actor: the much older Billy Bob Thornton. And the two’s eccentric behavior – famously, they both carried around each other’s blood in containers – provided the tabloids with countless stories.

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In 2002 Jolie and Thornton earned extra column inches, too, when they revealed that they had adopted a Cambodian child. Just months on, however, the unlikely couple decided to part company, and in 2003 they officially divorced. And the following year, Jolie reflected on the break-up of her marriage to Vogue, saying, “It took me by surprise, too, because overnight, we totally changed. I think one day we had just nothing in common. And it’s scary, but… I think it can happen when you get involved and you don’t know yourself yet.”

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But in 2005 Jolie became a bigger tabloid name than ever – and it was all down to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. At the time, though, the actress was only rumored to have become romantically involved with her male – and very married – co-star Brad Pitt.

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And Jolie was apparently keen to put all the gossip to bed. In a 2005 interview with Today, she said, “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. I wouldn’t be attracted to a man who would cheat on his wife.”

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Nevertheless, the rumor mill went further into overdrive when Pitt and Aniston separated shortly after Mr. and Mrs. Smith wrapped up. And the relationship was confirmed in January 2006, when Jolie announced that she and her actor beau were expecting their first child. Shiloh Nouvel was born in the Namibian city of Swakopmund in May of that year.

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Pitt and Jolie added to their family unit, too, with the 2008 births of twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline. The new arrivals took their brood to a total of six, as the pair had also adopted a Vietnamese three-year-old named Pax Thien in 2007. Jolie had previously taken in Maddox Chivan in 2002 and then Zahara Marley three years later.

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But the couple dubbed by the world’s press as Brangelina took their time in walking down the aisle, as they only became husband and wife in 2014. And, unfortunately, the wedding ceremony – which took place on Pitt and Jolie’s French estate – ultimately proved to be something of a curse.

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You see, while Jolie and Pitt had lit up movie theaters in their previous big-screen outing together, they stunk them up in 2015’s By The Sea. Also directed by Jolie, the highly intimate marital drama flopped with both critics and audiences alike. And The Washington Post’s Stephanie Merry was particularly damning about the flick, writing in her review, “Peeling back layer upon layer of exquisite ennui reveals nothing but emptiness sprinkled with stilted sentiments.”

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Then, within a year of By the Sea’s release, its stars announced that they were separating. Pitt and Jolie took a further two years to sort out the custody arrangements regarding their six children. And in 2019 the once-luminous couple were officially no more.

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Jolie first discussed her separation from Pitt in a 2017 interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos. There, the actress – who had specified “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce – revealed that she and her estranged husband were still focused on their kids’ health. She added, “We will be stronger when we come out of this because that’s what we’re determined to do as a family.”

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Later that same year, Jolie also opened up a bit further in a chat with Vanity Fair. Of her marriage split, the star told the magazine, “It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air.” Interestingly, though, she also admitted, “Things got bad. I didn’t want to use that word… Things became ‘difficult.’”

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So, how bad did things get? Well, in 2016 Pitt purportedly got into a massive row with Jolie on a plane. The pair’s eldest child, Maddox, even had to step in and act as peacemaker, according to reports. And after that alleged incident, Pitt was then investigated by the FBI on child abuse grounds – although he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

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Furthermore, Pitt’s alcohol consumption was apparently a major cause for concern in his relationship with Jolie. In fact, in 2017 the actor even admitted to GQ that he “could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka.” At that time, however, Pitt was also keen to state that he no longer relies on booze, adding that he didn’t “want to live that way anymore.”

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Yet even following that admission, things continued to get ugly between Pitt and his former wife. In 2018 Jolie argued in court documents that the actor had been neglecting his child support payments since the divorce papers had been initiated. Naturally, Pitt’s legal team fought against that claim, asserting instead that Jolie was both using her kids to “increase the conflict” and to “manipulate media coverage.”

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Pitt’s attorneys also argued that the star had given Jolie over $1.3 million over the previous two years. This money had apparently been used for security, travel expenses and therapy for the couple’s six children. It was said, too, that Pitt had loaned his ex a whopping $8 million to help her purchase a brand-new property in the U.K.

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And Jolie alluded to the acrimonious split in a 2018 interview with People magazine. While accompanied by Maddox, the Oscar winner revealed, “I have had my ups and downs. I guess I am a little bit stronger. We all have our difficult times, but as a mother, you also have a responsibility first and foremost towards the kids.”

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A candid Jolie then added, “[The children] are going through their formative years, and everything else comes second to that. I haven’t worked for over a year now because they needed me home. We’ve all been a bit in lockdown. I think they’re itching to get out in the world again.”

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What’s more, Jolie appeared just as happy to talk about her failed relationship with Pitt while promoting sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in 2019. Speaking to Madame Figaro, the actress revealed that since her split, she has been able to more often embrace her free-spirited side. “I feel like I’m coming full circle,” Jolie told the French publication.

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During the chat – which was later translated by Lainey Gossip – Jolie also admitted that she felt slightly lost in the wake of the dissolution of her marriage with Pitt. She told Madame Figaro, “I do not know about destiny, but I’m certain that I’m in transition and this is a homecoming. I’m coming back to myself.”

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Then, when Jolie was asked at what time she had found things particularly hard to deal with, she gave a heartbreaking reply. “I think it was at the end of my relationship with Brad and then when we separated. It was complicated; I didn’t recognize myself anymore. And I’d become – how do I say this – smaller, insignificant – even if I didn’t show it,” she said.

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“I was profoundly, deeply sad. I was hurt,” Jolie continued. “On the other hand, it was interesting to tap into this humility and sense of insignificance. It’s a lesson I pass onto my children. The idea of renewal – and through it all, the possibility of joy. I had to rediscover the joy.”

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A month later, Jolie discussed her private life once again in a chat with Harper’s Bazaar. And she told the magazine that her kids had been a huge source of support since her split with their father. “The part of us that is free, wild, open [and] curious can get shut down by life – by pain or by harm,” Jolie revealed. “My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it.”

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Jolie went on to add, “[My children] have been through a lot. I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are and all that they know in their hearts to be right. And they look back at us and want the same for us.”

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However, Jolie also seemed to imply that her ex-husband is still imposing some restrictions on her lifestyle. The star told Harper’s Bazaar, you see, that she “would love to live abroad and will do so as soon as [her] children are 18.” In the meantime, though, the actress is “having to base where [the kids’ father] chooses to live.”

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Pitt is still situated in Los Angeles, of course, and the custody arrangements ironed out between him and Jolie mean that she can’t relocate far outside the city with their six kids. Nonetheless, the Maleficent star has claimed that she still wants her brood to develop the same sense of adventure as she has over the years.

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Jolie told Harper’s Bazaar, “My favorite place is somewhere I’ve never been. I like to be dropped into the middle of something new. I enjoy being out of my element. I want the children to grow up in the world – not just learning about it, but living it and having friends around the world. Next year, we break ground on a home in Africa.”

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In fact, Jolie even challenged readers to break from their old routines. She advised, “Don’t just be comfortable with what is generally accepted but find the new. Find your oxygen, your originality, your own voice. Live more fully. Rebel. Resist. Question. Be curious. Explore. Go outside what is comfortable to you. Say the thing you’ve been afraid to say. Put down this magazine and go and do one thing today you’ve never done before.”

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And Jolie appears to be taking her own advice when it comes to her career choices, as she’ll soon be starring in her first superhero film. The actress will portray Thena in The Eternals, which is scheduled for release in late 2020. Before that, though, Jolie will appear as a bereaved mother in fantasy Come Away as well as the big-screen adaptation of Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead.

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But even though Jolie is far from your average mom, she’s not completely immune to the day-to-day issues involved in raising kids. And like parents across the planet, the actress also has to face the prospect of her children growing up and eventually flying the nest. So, what has she done to prepare herself for that inevitable transition period – and how did she cope when her son Maddox headed off to college?

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Jolie, of course, is a mother to six children. Three of them are adopted, and three are her biological kids. Her journey with them has been a fascinating one. But now the A-list actress has reached a turning point with her offspring: they’re starting to grow up and go to college. And any parent will tell you that such an experience can be difficult.

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Jolie first became a mother back in 2002, when she brought home a little boy whom she named Maddox. She’d adopted him from an orphanage in Cambodia, and the process was long and complicated. Indeed, the individual who arranged the adoption ended up being convicted of money laundering and fraud, but the adoption itself was nonetheless ruled to be valid.

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At the time, Jolie was married to actor Billy Bob Thornton. However, she actually adopted Maddox on her own. Thornton did have the option to adopt the child legally back in the U.S., but he ended up not doing so. Three months later, he and Jolie separated, so Jolie started to raise Maddox as a single mother.

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After Maddox, Jolie decided to adopt another child. This was Zahara Marley, who was born in Ethiopia. Her adoption was even more heartrending than the last. At first, Jolie was informed that Zahara was an orphan whose parents had died of AIDs. However, it later turned out that her birth mother was still alive.

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Moreover, Zahara’s birth mother, Mentwabe Dawit, had an awful story to tell. She’d become pregnant following a rape. After giving birth, she feared the child would die in infancy due to malnourishment. In 2007 Dawit told the Reuters news agency, “I was desperate and decided to run away, rather than see my child dying.”

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Thinking that her daughter was dead, Dawit’s mother consequently offered the baby for adoption. Dawit later told the media that she was happy with how things had turned out. “My mother was not misled by anyone, as was alleged by some media outlets,” she said. “Her motive was to save the child from dying, which I fully understand.”

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“I have never disputed the adoption of my baby by Angelina Jolie,” Dawit continued. “I think my daughter is a very fortunate human being to be adopted by a world-famous lady. I wish them both all the success they deserve.” Jolie and her new partner, Brad Pitt, took Zahara to the U.S. And in 2006 Pitt legally adopted both Zahara and Maddox.

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Then, in May 2006 Jolie had a biological child, Shiloh, with Pitt. The Pitt-Jolie relationship had dominated the headlines so much – not least because Pitt had left his first wife, actress Jennifer Aniston, to be with Jolie – that the pair decided to go aboard for the birth. As a result, Shiloh was born in Swakopmund, Namibia.

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And Jolie didn’t stop there. In 2007 the actress adopted another child, again as a single parent. That was because Pax, three, was adopted from Vietnam, where unmarried couples aren’t permitted to co-adopt. So Pitt had to wait till 2008 to become the legal adoptive father of Pax in the U.S. The child’s birth mother had reportedly left him at an orphanage when Pax was a baby.

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Finally, Jolie had two more biological children with Pitt, twins Vivienne and Knox. She gave birth to them in 2008 in the midst of more intense media interest. The first photographs of the twins were bought by magazines Hello and People for an alleged $14 million, making them the costliest celeb photos of all time.

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Jolie raised her famous family in as normal a way as possible under the circumstances. In 2013 she told Total Film magazine that she was happy to do the dirty work herself. “The great thing about having a bunch of kids is that they just remind you that you’re the person who takes them to go poop,” she said.

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In the same interview, Jolie said she saw no difference between her biological children and her adopted ones. All her kids were “the child that’s been chosen for you.” She stated, “I suppose it’s like a child you give birth to, as you can’t have a say in it. I see that when I look at my kids. It just seems to be right. It’s hard to understand how it could unfold so beautifully.”

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Jolie has often stated that she’s extremely lucky to be in her position as a mother. “I’m not a single mom with two jobs trying to get by every day,” she told the Daily News in 2014. “I have much more support than most people, most women in this world. And I have the financial means to have a home and health care and food.”

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Her children are able to get a good education, too. In June 2016 Jolie spoke to the BBC show Woman’s Hour about that very subject. “I asked them what languages they wanted to learn and Shi is learning Khmai, which is a Cambodian language,” she said. “Pax is focusing on Vietnamese, Mad has taken to German and Russian, Z is speaking French, Vivienne really wanted to learn Arabic, and Knox is learning sign language.”

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Despite Jolie and Pitt both being world-famous actors, though, Jolie claimed that none of her children had yet shown an interest in acting. “None of my kids want to be actors,” she admitted. “They are actually very interested in being musicians. I think they like the process of film from the outside. Mad is interested in editing. Pax loves music and deejaying.”

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Everything seemed to be going well in the Pitt-Jolie home, but in September 2016 a bombshell was dropped: Jolie and Pitt were getting divorced. Entertainment website TMZ subsequently got hold of the couple’s divorce papers and reported that Jolie wanted custody of the children and for Pitt to be granted visitation rights.

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According to TMZ, a conflict over their kids was the reason for the split. The website reported that “sources connected with the couple” had stated that “Angelina’s decision to file has to do with the way Brad was parenting the children… she was extremely upset with his methods.”

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Rumors spread that the catalyst for the divorce was a loud argument between Pitt and oldest son Maddox while they were aboard the couple’s private jet. There were even some media reports that Pitt’s actions were being looked into by the Los Angeles Department of Child & Family Service and the FBI.

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TMZ claimed that, according to their sources, what happened was that “Brad and Angelina began arguing and Maddox jumped up to verbally defend his mom. We’re told Brad then lunged at the boy and Angelina jumped in between them to block her husband. Brad connected in some fashion with his son.”

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Pitt’s team firmly denied this account, however. A source informed People magazine that the incident “was a parent-child argument which was not handled in the right way and escalated more than it should have.” And they added that “[Pitt] is emphatic that it did not reach the level of physical abuse, that no one was physically harmed. He did not hit his child in the face in any way.”

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But whatever had actually happened, the damage was done. Pitt was subsequently absolved of any child abuse in 2017. “I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called,” he told GQ Style magazine that year. “And you know, after that, we’ve been able to work together to sort this out.”

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Jolie also gave an interview to Vanity Fair magazine in July 2017 about the divorce and how the kids were doing. She and the children had moved to a new home. “It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air,” Jolie said. “[This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”

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The interviewer asked Jolie about rumors that Pitt had wanted a more “normal” life for the kids. She replied, “[Our lifestyle] was not in any way a negative. That was not the problem. That is and will remain one of the wonderful opportunities we are able to give our children… They’re six very strong-minded, thoughtful, worldly individuals. I’m very proud of them.”

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When Jolie was asked about how the children had dealt with the divorce, her words were cryptic. “They’ve been very brave. They were very brave… in times they needed to be,” she said. “We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing… They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some… from life, from things in life.”

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In 2018 Jolie did an interview with People magazine and was accompanied by Maddox. Both he and his 13-year-old brother Pax had been helping their mother on her new Netflix film, First They Killed My Father. Maddox was even named as an executive producer of the movie.

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Jolie talked to People about how she’d been coping since the divorce. “I have had my ups and downs. I guess I am a little bit stronger,” she said. “We all have our difficult times, but as a mother you also have a responsibility first and foremost towards the kids. They are going through their formative years and everything else comes second to that.”

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Jolie said her kids had “all been a bit in lockdown” but that they were now “itching to get out in the world again.” And Maddox, as the oldest, was the first to leave home. In August 2019 Jolie waved the 18-year-old off at college. It wasn’t a nearby establishment either – he was attending Yonsei University in South Korea.

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At the D23 Expo in California, Jolie told Entertainment Tonight what it had been like seeing her oldest child leave the nest. When it had happened, Jolie said, she’d sobbed. “[At the airport] I turned around six times,” Jolie added. “And he sweetly stayed and kept waving, knowing that I was going to keep turning around. You could feel he knew he couldn’t leave.”

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“It’s nice to know how much he knows he’s loved,” Jolie continued. “What was very beautiful is the way everybody said goodbye. When it was time to take him to the airport, some jumped into the car to take him.”

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While moving into university, Maddox himself also answered some interview questions. Reporters noticed that his adoptive father wasn’t there and asked if Pitt was likely to come at all. “I don’t know about that, what’s happening,” Maddox replied, according to the Evening Standard. Then someone asked if his relationship with Pitt was finished, and Maddox responded, “Whatever happens, happens.”

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Maddox may have a strained relationship with his father, but he’s very close to his mother. “Angelina’s relationship with Maddox has never been stronger,” a source told the website HollywoodLife in 2018. “They’ve always had a special connection but since the divorce their bond has only strengthened.”

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“They really rely on each other,” the anonymous continued. “He’s always been wise beyond his years, but since her split with Brad he’s proven his maturity and wisdom is much greater than that of the average 17-year-old. Maddox has gone above and beyond to help out with the younger kids.”

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“He has Angelina’s blessing to do the teenage thing and take off with his friends, but instead he sticks around to be with her and his brothers and sisters,” the insider continued. “It’s amazing how selfless he is, he definitely isn’t the average teenager. He’s one of Angelina’s greatest sources of pride and strength. She lights up whenever she talks about him.”

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Indeed, Jolie sings the praises of her children whenever she can. Her two youngest kids are now 11 years old – time has flown by. And in September 2019 she spoke to Hello! magazine about her brood, saying, “On Mother’s Day my children make me breakfast and pick me flowers – they treat me like a lady.”

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“When I do take time for myself, I rediscover that softness I speak of,” Jolie continued. “I also realize I have more fight and resilience in me than I knew. But at my core I’m soft and vulnerable – it’s not my dream just to be strong. I want to be allowed to be soft and I don’t want to be harmed or feel unsupported when I am.”

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Seeing Maddox go off to college, Jolie told Hello!, had given her a whole different perspective. “When your children are little, you feel more ‘mommy’. When they are teenagers, you start to remember yourself as a teenager,” she explained. “You see them going to punk clubs, and you wonder why you can’t go. I’m in this fun moment where I’m rediscovering myself.”

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The interviewer asked Jolie what values she wanted her children to learn. “Kindness – to others and themselves,” Jolie answered. “It’s important to be humble – know the freedoms you have and what you’ve been blessed with and make sure you help others. And always remember your place – we’re all human and very flawed. We’re tiny pieces in a much bigger world.”

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Jolie may be sad that her children are starting to leave home, but she’s proud of the people they are becoming. “As they grow up, I find my children are strong individuals but still open-minded,” she said. “I try to lead by example and be kind and gracious, as my mother was – and loving and tolerant. But when there’s a fight that needs to be had, get in there.”

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“We need to prepare the next generation, because there’s so much happening in the world – they’re up against it,” Jolie added. “I’m working on a program for children with the BBC. We’re counting on our children, so we must give them the right knowledge and support.” Jolie seems to be in a good position to do that.

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Above all, Jolie is relieved at the closeness of her family unit. While speaking to Entertainment Tonight at D23, she said, “When you know that your kids love each other and you see the way they all — without any kind of prompting or pushing — give each other notes, hug each other, take each other, support each other, then you feel like they’re going to be okay… They’re always going to have each other.”

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