When news hit that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had finally tied the knot, global media went berserk. Let’s call it the inimitable Jolie-Pitt effect; this pair take being a power couple, and the business of their huge family, to the next level.
She’s starred in Disney’s Maleficent, achieved an impressive directorial feat with Unbroken, and then there’s the small matter of The Wedding.
The Jolie-Pitt clan are used to the travelling lifestyle and directing Unbroken took Angelina and her six children, Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne, to Australia, something that Jolie calls, “a huge adventure for them.”
While Jolie was here, Brad was halfway across the world in England, working on Fury.
Jolie says the couple, “found a way to romanticise our time apart. We imagined ourselves as a couple who were living during WWII and separated the way so many couples were. We decided we would hand-write letters to each other that gave us a chance to express our feelings about how much we cared about each other and thought about each other. Even though it was hard to be away from each other for so long, we tried to make it as beautiful and romantic as we could.”
This only adds to the fairy-tale image – quite at odds with her lead role in Maleficent – sealed by their intimate French family wedding. Jolie’s gown and veil, created by Luigi Massi, master tailor at Atelier Versace, were artfully embroidered with colourful doodles by the couple’s six children.
Jolie's daughters Zahara and Vivienne wore white dresses, while tomboy Shiloh displayed her individual style in a black shorts suit and top hat. The three boys Maddox, Pax and Knox, all sported black suits.
While the wedding pictures made the cover of glossy celebrity magazines (and raised large amounts for Jolie-Pitt’s humanitarian causes in the process), Jolie has recently been enjoying life on the other side of the camera.
Successfully directing 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, Jolie’s latest film, Unbroken, touchingly recaptures of the life of US Olympian and WWII hero Louis Zamperini, a man who survived two years of torture and near-starvation as a Japanese POW.
“This film was a much larger project than I had really been looking for,” Jolie admits. “I had spent some time trying to find a moving and emotionally powerful story but I wasn't thinking of making a movie of this scope.”
The project, which covers the life of Louis Zamperini, is a story that came close to home for Jolie in more ways than one.
“Shortly after I came across his story I found out that he lived only a few minutes away from my house (in LA) and we were practically neighbours for all these years," she laughs, adding that, “we could each see each other's houses if he went on his balcony and I would go up on my roof!”
Sadly, Zamperini passed away this July age 97 after a six week battle with pneumonia.
While Jolie describes it as “a loss impossible to describe,” she was able to show him a first cut of her film while he was in hospital (pictured).
"Those moments I got to spend with him that day and show him scenes of how his life had unfolded were something I will cherish forever."
The reality of Louis’ story may not always make for easy viewing - “there were many dark moments that I wanted to present as honestly as possible” – but Jolie kept her children involved in the artistic process.
“My boys saw an early cut of Unbroken and I thought they would be talking about the sharks. Instead, they asked me about one of the character’s deaths, and I was surprised by that. I think what children can handle and what they're interested in is much deeper than people assume. It's why sometimes we make things too simple for them. With a film like this, people say, ‘Is it too dark for children?’ It's not.”
Instead, Jolie says that, “They want to understand things that frighten them. They want to see dark things that happen, and they want to see how to rise above them.”
In Jolie’s opinion, children “don't want to be hidden from all things, and have everything sweetened. That's something that always surprises me about children.”
Jolie has long said she’s determined to be as hands-on a mother as possible; it’s one of the reasons she now prefers to direct than act. While editing Unbroken, “I was able to make sure that they would eat lunch with me and I would be home for dinner and bedtime,” she says.
“My biggest thing is I don't know how to do nothing,” Jolie laughs. “As a mother I have to learn to be able to just be home and enjoy my family. I always feel there is something I should be doing.”
While she won’t be resting on her laurels anytime soon, it’s fair to say Jolie’s latest project is a family affair. Jolie’s latest project sees her both write and star in By The Sea, opposite her husband.
It’s been nearly a decade – incorporating the arrival of her six kids and a marriage – since the duo starred in Mr and Mrs Smith together. Who knows what their next collaboration will bring?