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Just when you thought Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie couldn’t get any more perfect, they do. On Monday morning, Hollywood’s shiniest golden couple appeared on the Today show, granting an interview to industry vet Tom Brokaw that primarily focused on Jolie’s recent surgeries for cancer prevention, but touched on other, lighter topics as well. Throughout their chat, Pitt and Jolie remained poised, articulate, and locked together, hand-in-hand.
As a quick refresher, in 2013, the mother of six underwent a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction after learning that she’d tested positive for a gene that left her with an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer. This came eight years after losing her mother to the disease and two months before her aunt died of it. Then, in 2015, after another blood test showed signs of early ovarian cancer, Jolie opted to have her ovaries removed as well — a surgery that sent her into menopause.
“You just have to make the choices you make in life,” Jolie, 40, explained of her bold decision. “I made the choices I made because I believed they were right for me.”
Brad recalled getting the phone call from his wife with the news about the potential cancer in her ovaries. “I was out in France and Angie called me and I got straight on a plane to return,” he said. “Seeing my wife be her strongest and knowing that it’s the scariest of news is terribly moving — and not being there is a horrible feeling.”
When the time came for her second surgery, however, Jolie was surrounded by familiar faces: nurses and doctors who had previously cared for her mother. “The doctor who did my surgery was my mother’s doctor,” the Maleficent star revealed. “My mother had said to her, 'Promise me you’ll take Angie’s ovaries out.’ So we both had a big cry and she said, 'I promised your mother. I have to do this.’”
This surgery was just the beginning of changes for Jolie, however. “Every woman is different when they go through menopause and I didn’t know, emotionally, how I would feel,” she explained. “I knew the breasts would be a bigger surgery and physically changing. The ovaries [surgery] is more your hormones changing and your emotions changing — but it’s different. You feel different.”
One thing that never changed, though, was Pitt’s response to what she was going through. Asked by Brokaw what his role was, the World War Z star didn’t miss a beat. “Support,” he stated before adding, “Whatever’s got to be done to keep the family together, and keep the family together as long as possible, is going to be done.” He went on to explain, “This was her charge. No question, it’s a scary decision. There’s many things that can go wrong and go many different directions, but it was really led by her dedication: 'This is what I gotta do. This is what I’m gonna do.’”
Pitt seemed truly in awe of Jolie’s response to the decisions she made. “There was no vanity to my wife’s approach,” he noted. “It was mature. It was an excitement [like], 'This is our life. I’m gonna make the best of it.’ There’s strength in that. It’s just another one of those things in life that makes you tighter.” What’s more, Pitt understood whole-heartedly why Jolie made the choices she did. “She was doing it for her kids. She was doing it for her family so we could be together. It trumped everything. It trumped everything and anything.”
At this point, a beaming Jolie jumped in to return some of the praise. “As much as he speaks about my strength, I knew that he made it very clear to me that what he loved, and what was a woman to him, was somebody who was smart and capable and cared about her family — that it wasn’t about your physical body,” she revealed. “I knew through the surgeries that he was on my side and that this wasn’t something where I was going to feel less of a woman, because my husband wasn’t going to let that happen.” (Ladies, if you feel like standing up and applauding at this point, you’re in good company.)
Seeing how strong their marriage is, it might be surprising that in their next film, the Jolie-directed By the Sea, they play a couple with deep marital woes. Neither of them seemed concerned that people will confuse fiction with reality, however.
“I’m counting on the audience to know that if it was close to us at all, we could never make this film,” Jolie said. “It’s because we’re actually very, very stable and these aren’t our issues.” It’s probably worth noting that the last time they appeared on-screen together was in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, where they met while Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston.
Jolie laughed off the implications of people comparing that film to this one. Glancing at her husband, Jolie joked, “This is the beginning and then this is 10 years later — this is what 10 years of marriage will do to you.”
But this movie is deeply personal for Jolie, because the story was partly inspired by her time spent visiting her mother in the hospital all those years ago. “When she found out she had cancer the first time and she was going to have her ovaries removed, she was very upset and felt like they were taking out her parts that were female,” the actress recalled. “There was a woman down the hall wailing and I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet, and that put everything into perspective.”
But if you think Jolie does it all, you’re wrong. “Every three months, I’ll say, 'Honey, I think I should learn how to cook,’” she laughed.
“I just humor it,” Brad replied. “But really, she has no business in the kitchen.”