The actor, 48, reflected on becoming a parent for the first time in her twenties during an interview with Vogue, published on 27 September. Jolie, a mother of six, adopted her first child, now 22-year-old Maddox, in 2001. While she was with Pitt, he went on to legally adopt Maddox, before the two actors welcomed five children: Pax, 19, Zahara, 18, Shiloh, 17, and 15-year-old twins, Knox and Vivienne.
Speaking to Vogue, Jolie expressed her gratitude for her six children, revealing that she’s ultimately been encouraged to “live for them”.
“I was 26 when I became a mother. My entire life changed. Having children saved me – and taught me to be in this world differently,” she said. “I think, recently, I would’ve gone under in a much darker way had I not wanted to live for them.”
The Maleficent star went on to describe the dynamic of her family, before emphasising that she’s proud of her children.
“They’re better than me, because you want your children to be,” she said. “Of course, I’m the mother, and hopefully that safe place for them and that stability. But I’m also the one that they laugh at – and I see them taking over so many different aspects of our family.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Jolie – who announced her divorce from Pitt in 2016 – reflected on the personal challenges she’s encountered over the years. “I feel a bit down these days. I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for a decade, in a way, which I don’t want to get into,” she said.
She seemingly alluded to how she’s been focusing on herself and steering away from certain film projects since her divorce, as she said that she’s “only taking jobs that don’t require long shoots”.
“We had a lot of healing to do. We’re still finding our footing,” she explained, before acknowledging that her new fashion company, Atelier Jolie, has shaped her life for the better.
“I think part of this has also been therapeutic for me – to work in a creative space with people you trust and to rediscover yourself,” she said. “I’m hoping to change many aspects of my life. And this is the forward-facing one.”
Since announcing their separation in 2016, Jolie and Pitt have been embroiled in divorce proceedings concerning child custody and disagreements over their various properties.
In 2008, the pair bought a French vineyard together for around £20m, with both of them owning a 50 per cent share of the property, as well as its wine-making enterprise. Jolie sold her part of the property to Stoli Group, owned by Russian-British businessman Yuri Shefler, in 2021, prompting a lawsuit from Pitt. According to court documents reviewed by the Financial Times in July, Jolie’s former investment firm Nouvel accused Pitt of acting like a “petulant child” and engaging in a “blatant money grab” in terms of the Province vineyards.
In May 2021, after a lengthy legal battle that had spanned nearly five years, Pitt was granted joint custody of his children with Jolie. However, one month later, a California appeals court disqualified the private judge used in Pitt and Jolie’s case, and the custody battle has not yet been resolved. Currently, Jolie has sole custody of their children, while Pitt has visitation rights.
Since announcing her divorce, Jolie has also been very private about her relationship with her ex. However, in 2021, she issued a rare comment about coming to the decision to end her marriage.
“I’m not the kind of person who makes decisions like the decisions I had to make lightly. It took a lot for me to be in a position where I felt I had to separate from the father of my children,” she said, during an interview with The Guardian.
She acknowledged that she wanted what was best for both her children and their father, explaining: “It’s not that I want to talk about anything really, because I just want my family to heal. And I want everyone to move forward – all of us, including their dad. I want us to heal and be peaceful. We’ll always be a family.”
In her interview with Vogue, the Mr and Mrs Smith star also opened up about raising her children in the spotlight, noting that she allows them to wear what they want. “I don’t tell the kids how to dress,” she said. “Even when they were little, I just put things in front of them.”
Jolie added that she has the same perspective when they make public appearances. “Nobody has to go anywhere if they don’t want to, and if they don’t want to dress up, they don’t have to,” she said.