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Bev Cohn: Angelina Jolie Interview 2
Angelina Jolie Interview -
Up Close and Personal…
Frank Talk on Family Values and Her Humanitarianism - Part 2

By Beverly Cohn

Angelina Jolie
Courtesy Photo
n Part 1 of this interview, Angelina Jolie, whose body of work as an actor includes the “Lara Croft” series, “Salt,” “Changeling,” “The Good Shepherd,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and “A Mighty Heart,” discussed her first directorial effort in “The Land of Blood and Honey,” which she also wrote and produced. In Part 2 of the interview, Jolie talks in depth about her humanitarian awakening and how it impacts on her family.

The following has been edited for continuity and print purposes.

Cohn: Was there one life-changing moment that put you on your humanitarian path?

Jolie: The life-changing moment for me was the first time I went to a war zone for two weeks eleven years ago. I wasn’t a Good Will Ambassador or anything, but I just asked to go and was allowed to. I had spent time in Sierra Leone, a brutal conflict where they cut off arms of little kids. I could not for the life of me understand how this was happening. It was like someone smacked me in the face for all the times I worried about my own problems. The atrocities that took place are unfathomable such as where people literally cut hands off of their sisters to force them to beg or men are forced to rape their mothers in front of people. It’s beyond anything we can imagine. I went to Tanzania and saw the first mass refugee camp that held 500,000 people. When I saw that sea of humanity, displaced, with the lack of human rights and not knowing what their future is, it was so daunting that I was in complete shock and when I got to the airport, I talked to my mother on the phone and broke down. It was then that I decided to live a better life and never, ever forget what I had just seen.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with their children
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with their family. Courtesy Photo.

Cohn: You’re the most famous woman in the world. How do you balance your celebrity status with your family life?

Angelina Jolie directing the film In the Land of Blood and Honey
Jolie's humanitarian work culminated in the making of "The Land Of Blood And Honey." Photo: Dean Semler

Jolie: Well, I would never sacrifice any time with my family. If Brad (Pitt) and I can’t manage our schedules, we’ll always sacrifice work. The kids and I stayed with him while he was doing “Moneyball” in L.A. and I did the prep for this film mostly here and would only travel for two days and than I would come back. I kept doing that because I couldn’t leave my family for a long time. So I had a very scattered prep and only had three days in Hungary before I started shooting because I had to stay with my family. Brad’s film went over schedule but he joined us a week later. So we just do everything we can to try to stay together and during the filming my family was there. Brad took the kids to school and after school, they would come to the set and play in the fake snow. I didn’t let them anywhere near the camera because this is an inappropriate film for them to be near.

Cohn: You’re a well-travelled family. How open are you with your children about the problems of the world?

Jolie: Very open and straightforward. My children have been to post-conflict situations and have been to refugee camps. They have also, for example, gone to the house we have in Cambodia. It’s not really a house, but a room on stilts, surrounded by 100 Cambodian people who work with us to secure the area. It’s a project in the middle of the jungle. We found 48 land mines on our property. Our neighbors are land mine victims. My kids play with the local kids and they swim in the pond and it’s part of what they know – part of their lives.

Angelina Jolie and Condoleezza Rice at a World Refugee Day event
Condoleezza Rice and Angelina Jolie at World Refugee Day event. Courtesy Photo

When I go on U.N. missions, I always sit down with them and explain where I’m going and they often know about that particular area – especially from watching the news, so they’re pretty well informed. I tell them I’m going to meet with other kids like them to make sure everyone is o.k. Sometimes they give me little things to bring as gifts.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the premiere of the film The Land of Blood and Honey
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the premiere of her film, "The Land Of Blood And Honey." Courtesy Photo.

Cohn: How was your childhood different from the childhood you are creating for your children?

Jolie: I’m trying to make them more global. My mother, for as open as she was, we just didn’t travel much, but she always taught me to be a good person and was interested in a lot of things. She took me to my first Amnesty International dinner when I was nine. She was part Native American and always talked to me about issues, but didn’t live outside of America. We weren’t as at home in the world. With my family, I’m trying to raise them to have respect for all people and to make friends around the world and to feel at home around the world. It’s what’s forming them. Of course, I make sure they do their math and their science, but the world perspective is the most important thing.

One special family moment comes to mind. We had just finished work in New York and Brad and I were piled in the car with all the kids. We were listening to Christmas songs and were laughing and playing games. I looked at Brad and said ‘this is one of those moments, the moments we live for.’ I’m so fortunate and love my family so much. They’re such a funny, interesting group of people.

Angelina Jolie with two of her children
Jolie with two of her children. Courtesy Photo

Cohn: Is there one film that stands out for you from your body of work?

Jolie: I loved doing “A Might Heart,” the Daniel Pearl story. I loved Mariane Pearl’s message. I think her message of tolerance and forgiveness is very important. I don’t know if I could be as gracious personally. I’ve come to know her family and her son so that film was very important to me. I loved Michael’s (Winterbottom) directing.

Cohn: Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

Jolie: I think I’ll be working less or maybe working from home. My kids will be needing me a lot when they hit their teens. (laughs) When I think of what I was like when I was a teenager, I think I need to be braced to be spending a lot of time with all six of them and making sure that I can be there when they go through everything.

Cohn: Thank you for a most gracious interview.

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

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