"Brad! Brad! Brad!” the crowd chanted as Mr. Pitt himself posed for selfies. At a November 9 red carpet fan event for his drama Allied, Brad Pitt basked in the adoration of the hundreds who had swarmed L.A.’s Regency Village Theatre. It was his second public appearance since Angelina Jolie filed for divorce and requested sole physical custody of their six children September 19, but the actor, 52, betrayed no hint of pain. “He was sweet,” attendee Avery Black tells Us. “He said he was thankful for the support.”
He could use it. An insider reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly that Pitt has only seen kids Maddox, 15, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and 8-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne three times in the past eight weeks. “He’s crushed,” says the insider of the man who once said he was “aiming for a dozen” offspring.
His luck, however, may be changing. On November 9, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services closed its investigation into a September incident (Pitt allegedly got physical with one of his kids aboard a private plane) and cleared him of wrongdoing. (An FBI file remains open.) Still, for the time being, Pitt has agreed to let the children continue to live with Jolie, 41. A Pitt insider explains he doesn’t want a battle with the Maleficent actress: “He wants to limit the fighting.”
Prioritizing the kids during this transition is also key. “Brad has been deferential on what’s best for them and limits their stress,” says a Pitt insider. To that end, he’s not ready to see them shuttled between households. Says a source, “You don’t just immediately create a new world.”
As it is, the Jolie-Pitts have struggled with their new normal. Pitt waited three weeks to see his children while they attended therapy. But as Us previously reported, during the few brief visits, claims the Jolie source, “the kids didn’t warm up to him.”
That’s painful for the hands-on dad. Despite the family’s nomadic lifestyle presplit, Pitt strived to make each house, well, a home. At their L.A.-area pad, he built a skate park for his homeschooled kids “and would get out and ride bikes with them,” says a source who worked with the family. For a move to London last spring, Pitt and Jolie picked “a super–kid-friendly” mansion with a pool and playground, says a source. Life with them was “total chaos,” Pitt said in 2015, “but so much fun.”
For more on Jolie and Pitt, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.