Not even Angelina Jolie, it turns out, was immune to the trauma of the teenage years. Sitting down with the Wall Street Journal in West Hollywood for an interview published Thursday, the 40-year-old admitted she suffered depression, partially due to her “unhealthy” hometown.
“I grew up in L.A., where focus is very inward,” explained the actress, promoting her upcoming film By the Sea, which she wrote and stars in with her husband, Brad Pitt — their first flick together since 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. “I didn’t know why I was so destructive and miserable. I didn’t appreciate or understand my life.” Being born into fame and fortune to actor John Voight and the late Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie explained, “you have everything in the world,” then “realize you still couldn’t be more empty. I didn’t know where to put myself.”
Growing up, the mother of six — Maddox, 14; Pax, 11; Zahara, 10; Shiloh, 8; Knox and Vivienne, 7— also confessed, “I was always worried about [my mother].” And she’s determined to make sure her children don’t inherit the same fear, which was a factor in the BRCA1 gene carrier’s decision to have a preventive double mastectomy in 2013, and to have her ovaries removed this year.
“I want to make sure my kids are never worried about me,” she said. “Even if I’m going through something, I make sure they are very aware that I’m totally fine. I’ll stop and make a joke, I talk to them. I never, ever want them to have that secret worry and feel that they have to take care of me.”
The Jolie Pitts (Photo: Getty Images)
Instead, she challenges them to keep up with her. “When Angie has a day off, the first thing she does is get up and take the kids out,” Pitt shared in the Wall Street Journal profile. “This is the most important ‘to do’ of the day. No matter how tired she might be, she plans outings for each and all. She has an incredible knack for inventing crazy experiences for them, something new, something fresh. I may be the bigger goof of the pair, but she invents the stage.”
That’s right, the parents — who enlist three teachers to homeschool their brood yet have no nighttime help — insist that they’re … nerdy. “Often we’re dorky Mom and Dad, which the kids find ridiculous,” said Jolie. Even in one of their posh mansions (including a sprawling estate in L.A. and a $60 million castle in France), she declared, “We wake up, we make breakfast. In our domestic life, we’re Mom and Dad.”
Those real roles, she explained, trump the parts she and Pitt play onscreen, especially when it came to re-creating the struggling couple in By the Sea. Slipping into the mindset of a duo on the verge of demise “might have been an absolute disaster,” Jolie said. “But as soon as we got home, it was bedtime stories, children’s needs and problems, the fights they’d had during the day. We had to immediately snap back to something that was uniting and positive and loving.”
Pitt, for one, believes his wife’s success in balancing her work as an actor, director, and mom (not to mention humanitarian activism) comes in part from the United Nations goodwill ambassador’s having that big-picture view. “Her drive, her absolute value in herself, is defined,” he said, “by the impact she can have during her time here — for her kids and for the underprivileged and those suffering injustices.”
(Top photo: Getty Images)