“I've needed her”: Angelina Jolie opens up about her late mother in moving interview

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Anna Brech
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Angelina Jolie has spoken out about how much she misses her mum, the late actor Marcheline Bertrand, in a candid and moving interview with her friend Marianne Pearl in Elle France.

“She would have thrived as a grandmother,” Jolie says of Bertrand, who died of breast cancer in 2007. “I know how much she would have contributed to their [her children’s] lives and I am sad they will miss out on that.”

The director and her estranged husband Brad Pitt have six kids together – Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 10, and 8-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.

The couple announced they were separating last September after 11 years together, and Jolie says she has really missed having her mum’s advice in recent months. 

“I would give anything for her to be with me at this time. I’ve needed her,” the 41-year-old says. “I talk to her often in my mind and try to think what she might say and how she might guide me.”

Bertrand, who was French-American, raised Jolie and her brother Haven by herself, after divorcing Hollywood director Jon Voight when Jolie was still a toddler.

She spent 10 years battling breast cancer before succumbing to the illness 10 years ago, aged 56.

Four years ago, Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy after finding out that she had an 87% risk of contracting the disease.

“My mother fought cancer for almost a decade…,” she wrote in an article for the New York Timesannouncing why she courageously opted for surgery.

“She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

“We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy,’ and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”

Jolie spoke of her relief that her children now “don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer”.

“The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made,” she said.

In a revealing interview with GQ Style last month, Pitt described his split from Jolie as a “huge generator for change”.

The actor said was undergoing therapy and had quit drinking, after a lifetime of alcohol and cannabis use.

“I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something…,” he said.

“I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean, I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know – things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much.”

The couple had been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute over their six children, that saw Pitt investigated and later cleared of a child abuse allegation.

The 53-year-old said he and Jolie had decided to put aside any sense of “vitriolic hatred”, and work together on sorting out their issues.

“It is the greatest gift and responsibility,” Jolie says of motherhood, in her latest interview. “It means doing everything that you can to live by your values and try to be an example to your children.”

Photos: Rex Features


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.