If she did not have a movie to promote, hardly an Angelina Jolie would be sitting in the Beverly Hills Hotel suite to talk – reluctantly – about her life after breaking up and joining Brad Pitt’s divorce petition in September of the year past.
But she is a veteran in the business and the film she co-wrote, produced and directed, “First They Killed My Father,” needs publicity. So she’s going through a long weekend of interviews while admitting, “This is the first time I’m doing this again after a long time. It is not easy. I’m a bit shy this time, because I do not feel strong enough inside like I’ve been in the past. ”
The past 12 months have clearly had some impact on the 42-year-old actress, who appears to be a little thin and pale.
“It’s been very difficult. I do not like being single. It’s not something I wanted. There is nothing good about it. Is very difficult. Sometimes it feels like I’m holding the tips, but in fact, I’m just trying to move on. Emotionally, it has been a very difficult year and I have had other health problems. So my health is something I have to monitor, ” she acknowledges.
Four years ago she caused a world-wide uproar by announcing that she had undergone a double preventive mastectomy after discovering she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. Her mother had breast cancer and died from ovarian cancer in 2007, at only 56 years of age. Her grandmother also died from 45-year-old ovarian cancer. Then, two years ago, Jolie underwent a new surgery, removing the ovaries and her Fallopian tubes. Because of this, she developed hypertension and had Bell’s palsy – a facial paralysis that causes the fall of one side of the face. According to her, acupuncture made her recover.
“Often in life you focus on the fact that things could have been much worse. I’m very happy that I did not get cancer, and if I happen to be, I know I was able to postpone this for a few years. The exchange I made to get that peace of mind was pretty good. I feel at times that my body was beaten, but I try to laugh as much as possible , “she said.
“We tend to get so stressed that our kids feel our stress when, in fact, they need to feel our joy. Even if you are undergoing chemotherapy, you need to find the ability to love and laugh. ” She pauses and smiles. “That may sound like a postcard phrase, but it’s true.”
Her children – Maddox (16), Pax (13), Zahara (12), Shiloh (11), Knox (9) and Vivienne (9) – hold a prominent position during the conversation, since she also required their custody when entered with the divorce. All six of her children went with her to Cambodia to live there during the four months of filming for the feature film “First They Killed My Father.” The film is based on the memoir written by Loung Ung and published in the year 2000, which talks about the genocide practiced by the Khmer Rouge. At that time, Ung’s parents and two brothers were killed, as were approximately two million Cambodians.
Jolie has been a Cambodian citizen for more than a decade and owns a house near the border with Thailand; so the time the family spent in the country was of particular importance to her and to Maddox, who was adopted by her in Cambodia when he was only 3 months old.
“I met Loung and asked her how she would feel, since she is a Cambodian orphan, if I adopted a Cambodian orphan. She gave me a lot of support. If she had not, my life would have been very different. So she’s known Mad since she was little and he always knew about Loung’s story and I said to him, ‘One day, son, you’ll be ready and when this day comes I want you to tell me that it’s time to know your parents. But I need you to help me, for you to work, for you to be there every day; and you will not be able to say that you are tired ‘. And one day he said, ‘I’m ready.’
“I really wanted Maddox to learn all about the history of Cambodia and I felt that this movie was a journey we could do. And he went head-first into the part of the research and editing. Also, I had someone younger next to me to say ‘you making me lose my mind’ or ‘this is very complicated’. He was really helpful. ”
The film is a family affair: Maddox received executive producer credits and Pax made some “nibs” as a photographer. The other children were also present on the film sets during the day and became friends with the young actors.
“Seventy percent of Cambodians are under 30 years of age. And if they watch this movie and wish they did not repeat it, they will be the ones who will lead their country forward. ”
She speaks quickly, slowly and predominantly in a good mood. The only time she got a little harsh was when I asked about the controversy that arose about the casting method for the new movie. In an interview for Vanity Fair, she said that the casting directors invented a play, in which a certain amount of money was left on a table and the children, during the auditions, had to take that money. At the moment, they were caught and had to come up with an excuse. The method applied at the hearing drew criticism and Jolie’s lawyers asked the magazine for a correction. Vanity Fair, however, kicked its feet and decided to just share the transcript of the interview.
“I’ve already explained this and you can search. “It was a misunderstanding and nothing happened without thinking about what was best for the children and for the families ,” she said abruptly.
“First They Killed My Father” is the fourth film directed by Jolie, following “In the Land of Love and Hate”, “Invincible” and “On the Sea”. At the moment, however, she has no immediate plan to act or direct. Instead, she and her children recently moved into a 24.5-million-dollar mansion that once belonged to Cecil B de Mille, and adapting is currently their top priority.
“I’m doing cookery classes. I’m not sure how good I am at this. Cooking is one of those things that you do when it is already well settled in life and you have time. But in a way I’m very impatient and a little erratic, so it’s very hard for me to stay in the kitchen. But I’m trying it now. I’m really trying because I feel that when I cook, children like it. Although they often take control of things and say they can do better , “she says, laughing.
“The kids have been awesome. It has been very exciting to see how much they can help themselves and how much they have helped me. They are really growing, they are finding out and finding their own voices. I know they will have each other for life and that gives me a lot of peace; to know that when I am no longer here, they will take care of one another . ”
After she completed filming the film, she visited London as a visiting professor at the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of London, where she told students about her experiences as a UN Special Envoy.
“Part of the reason I decided to teach was because I wanted to learn too. I really want to hear from the generation that is to come, what are their questions and what are their objectives … ”
If and when she returns to the movies, chances are of coming back more as a director than as an actress. “When you act, you can not sculpt the end of the story. But being able to supervise everything, even the music that goes into the editing part, is very different, ” she says.
Jolie’s early years as a wild girl were very well documented. She spoke openly about her past, about drugs and self-mutilation. During his marriage to actor Billy Bob Thornton (before, she was also briefly married to actor Jonny Lee Miller), the two wore pendants that held each other’s blood and boasted about their wild sex.
However, she met Pitt in 2004 on the sets of the film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith “and from 2005, she dedicated the last years of her life to motherhood. However, her life has changed drastically last year and now she is thinking of changing.
“I think now I need to rediscover some of my old self. I think we got lost a bit during our lives. I have many things happening right now. From people leaving my life, health problems to raising children. And this has been a very good phase to absorb, develop and grow. But maybe now that my kids are growing up I start to realize that a part of me has been left out for a while. And maybe the fact that my kids are reaching adolescence brings some fun to Mom. So maybe I’m coming back. It may be time, ” she laughs.
The film “First They Killed My Father” will be released on September 15th on Netflix.