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Angelina Jolie Talks Her New Solo Chapter in 'Vanity Fair'

Angelina Jolie in the Sept. 2017 issue of Vanity Fair.
Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott exclusively for Vanity Fair.

Angelina Jolie in the Sept. 2017 issue of Vanity Fair.

Last September, Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt "for the health of the family," packed up her things and moved out with their six children. Almost a year later, she is moving forward, solo. Busy with both acting and directing, as well as her humanitarian work and lecturing at London School of Economics -- and of course, parenting -- Angelina talks about the big shifts of her life in a Vanity Fair cover story written by Evgenia Peretz.

On her new home, a Beax-Arts mansion with old Hollywood glamor:
After nine months in a rental, she is happy to finally have a home -- one that the family moved into a few days before the interview. "Messy, relaxed, normal" - that's the life they want right now after a turbulent year filled with personal drama.

On her latest project:
Personal drama was the backdrop of her most personal film yet, First They Killed My Father, a memoir of Loung Ung, whose parents and siblings perished in the Khmer Rouge genocide. Shot in Cambodia and in Khmer language, the Netflix original film is the largest production the country has seen since the war. Rithy Panh, a Cambodian filmmaker, was at the helm of the project. Maddox, Jolie's son, is credited as an executive producer on the movie. In addition to that, some 3500 Cambodians participated in the production.

"That authentic connection to pain was awakened in everyone involved," the piece quotes Jolie saying, "making for a film set like nothing she’d ever seen." The film premiered in February for some 1,000 viewers. According to reports cited in Vanity Fair, "it was a screening filled with tears of recognition, remembrance, and catharsis."

On Cambodia:
Cambodia is where the woman she is today was born. "There, Jolie, who’d grown up in privileged bubbles in Los Angeles and New York, witnessed what real suffering looked like," Peretz writes. "Poverty, the loss of limbs from land mines, a generation of relatives wiped out. In this world there was no room for free-floating malaise or self-indulgent antics." She suddenly became curious about the world outside Hollywood, and outside the first-world privilege that characterized Angie, the "It Girl" of the 1990s.

On friendship:
Loung Ung is still one of a select few close friends of Jolie. It was Ung who was the deciding voice convincing Jolie that adopting a child from Cambodia was a good decision. Years later, she calls Ung "her main source of comfort... she’s that girlfriend who rolled up her sleeves, got on a plane, and helped me on Christmas morning... she’s been my closest friend. I cried on her shoulder.'"

On her relations with Brad Pitt:
"We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal," says Jolie of her current relationship with Pitt. Are things really improving? She's careful in wording her cryptic answers, wanting to keep things private and within the family. Pitt's mea culpa in GQ Style in May does not elicit a heartfelt response. Did it surprise her? "No," she tells the magzine.

On her family:
"I do not want my children to be worried about me," adds Jolie. "They need to know that everything's going to be all right even when you're not sure it is." She is fiercely protective of her kids, especially after an ovarian cancer scare a few years ago. Her mother had cancer, and Angie had the gene; she decided to have a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery -- yet even that did not save her from a concerning phone call from a doctor about her blood work. In the end, she did not have cancer, and shortly after discovering that, she made an appointment to get her ovaries taken out. "Sometimes women in families put themselves last," she says, "until it manifests itself in their own health."

On herself:
“I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I’m being smart about my choices, and I’m putting my family first, and I’m in charge of my life and my health," she says. "I think that’s what makes a woman complete.” That said, Peretz writes that the idea of being a sex symbol now "is laughable" to Angie. 

On the future:
Right now Angelina is gearing up for a trip to Africa with her children. Trying to be a great mom and homemaker is just one side of her identity now. Another includes trips and initiatives all over the world, as Jolie cannot sit still for long. She says she recently made some joke to Knox along the lines of “Pretend to be normal.” “He said, ‘Who wants to be normal? We’re not normal. Let’s never be normal.’ Thank you—yes! We’re not normal. Let’s embrace being not normal!”

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