The actress Angelina Jolie has spoken publicly about her separation from Brad Pitt for the first time.
In an emotional interview with the BBC, Jolie said of her marital breakdown, "It was very difficult. Many people find themselves in this situation. My whole family have all been through a difficult time. My focus is my children, our children.”
Apparently close to tears, Jolie said: “We are and forever will be a family and so that is how I am coping. I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer."
Jolie filed for divorce in September last year in a move that caught Hollywood by surprise, citing the ‘health of my family’ as the reason for the split from Pitt, who she had been with since 2004 and with whom she has six children: 8-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox, Shiloh, 10, Zahara, 11, Pax, 13, and Maddox, 15.
The final straw apparently came after Pitt got in an alleged shoving match with their adopted child Maddox on a private jet, although Pitt was cleared of child abuse by an official investigation.
The battle has at times been vicious, with both parties making poisonous accusations against each other as they tussle for custody of their kids.
Jolie accused Pitt in one filing of being, “terrified that the public will learn the truth,” and of attacking her to “deflect from [his] own role in the media storm which has engulfed the parties’ children.”
The divorce proceedings have been rancorous—however both parties have now agreed to conduct the case more discreetly.
Jolie was speaking in an exclusive sit-down with the BBC at the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia ahead of the premiere of her new film, First They Killed My Father, based on a book of the same name by Loung Ung, who was five when her life was turned upside down by the Khmer Rouge, the murderous regime headed by Pol Pot which ran the country between 1975 and 1979.
It is estimated that about two million people, around a quarter of the population, were either murdered by the regime or died from starvation and overwork.
The location of the premiere in Angkor Wat, attended by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, marked a symbolic full circle for Jolie, as she first visited Cambodia for the filming of 2001 hit Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, parts of which were shot in the temple complex itself.
She later adopted Maddox from Cambodia.
Jolie, who has reinvented herself as a UN ambassador, recently wrote a piece for the New York Times in response to President Donald Trump's immigration ban, saying: "The American people are bigger than any president. I suppose I have faith in my country and in what it is founded on and the values we hold dear.”