In an interview released on Monday, actress, director, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast to discuss her latest directorial project, First They Killed My Father.
For the last hour of the episode, Jolie opened up about everything—from her Hollywood upbringing to her high-profile marriage to actor Brad Pitt—and she left little unsaid.
“I never had parents that suggested I could be anything else,” she said of growing up with dad Jon Voight and late mother Marchelline Bertrand, both of whom were actors. “There’s many, many positives [to having parents in the industry]. The one odd negative is that a lot people in this town think that being an actor is the greatest thing in the world and the greatest thing you can be, so you’re pushed to be that before you are able to consider other ways of life—and that, somehow, is this natural thing that everyone should want.”
Despite falling into the family business, Jolie worked to distance herself from her roots at an early age.
“I didn’t want to walk in the room as Jon’s daughter,” Jolie said of her decision to ditch her famous last name when she entered the film industry. “I wanted to see if I could get the job on my own and not be hired for a name.
After decades of delivering critically acclaimed performances and even winning an Oscar for her performance in Girl, Interrupted, Jolie set her sights on directing.
In 2015, the awards darling wrote, directed, and starred in By the Sea alongside her then-husband Brad Pitt. Looking back, the actress says the collaboration was an attempt to save and strengthen their bond.
“It should have been good for us,” Jolie reminisced. "We had met working together [on Mr. & Mrs. Smith] and we worked together well ... I wanted us to do some serious work together and I wanted to see him do that kind of work.”
“I thought it would be a good way for us to communicate,” the mother of six explained. “In some ways it was, and in some ways we learned some things. But there was a heaviness probably during that situation that carried on and it wasn't because of the film. It was something that we were dealing ... things happen for different reasons, and things … why did I write that exact piece? Why did we feel the way we did when we made it? I'm not sure."
“A piece of art can be something that's healing or something that's difficult,” she continued. “I'm happy we did that film because we did explore something together. Whatever it was, maybe it didn't solve certain things, but we did communicate something that needed to be communicated to each other."