Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie opened up about their marriage on the "Today" show Monday in a candid interview with NBC’s Tom Brokaw. The couple talked of their new film, "By the Sea," and the struggles they’ve faced as a couple, including Jolie’s decision to undergo preventative surgery to remove her breasts and ovaries.
After finding out she had an 87% risk of breast cancer, Jolie had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in 2013.
When she later learned that she had a risk of ovarian cancer as well, her husband was the first person she called.
“I was out in France and Angie called me and I got straight on a plane to return,” said Pitt. “Seeing my wife have to be her strongest and knowing that its the scariest of news is terribly moving and not being there is a horrible feeling.”
Jolie chose to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. The decision was based off her experience with her mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 and died at 56 years old in 2007. Jolie even used the same doctors as her mother to have her procedures done. “You have to just make the choices you make in life. I made the choices I made because I believed they were right for me,” said Jolie.
Jolie's ovarian surgery also brought on the early onset of menopause.
“Every woman is different when they go through menopause, and...I didn't know emotionally how I would feel,” she said. “I knew the breast would be a bigger surgery and physically changing. The ovaries is more, your hormones changing and your emotions changing, but it's different. You feel different.”
Jolie’s mother’s experience served as inspiration for her new film, “By The Sea,” which she wrote, directed, produced and is starring in alongside her husband.
“I can’t say what the whole film is about, but a lot of the film was when I went to visit my mom in the hospital when she found out that she had cancer the first time. She was going to have her ovaries removed, she was very upset and feeling like this was they’re taking out her parts that were female,” said Jolie.
“There was a woman down the hall who was wailing, and I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet and that put everything into perspective.”
“By the Sea” is the first time Jolie and Pitt have appeared together on screen in 10 years. Their first time was in 2005’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
While Jolie revealed few details about the new film, she did admit that it was about a troubled marriage which she hopes the audience won't equate with her own. “I’m counting on the audience to know that if it was close to us at all, we could never make this film,” said Jolie. “It’s because we’re actually very, very stable and these aren’t our issues”
Of their struggles as a couple, the two admire the other’s strength.
“I just remember there was no vanity to my wife’s approach,” said Pitt of Jolie’s surgery. “She was doing it for her kids, she was doing it for her family, so we could be together, it trumped everything and anything.”
Jolie believes that her experience could help other women.
“Many of us will have cancer. We will all die. And so to face these issues together and to talk about them and talk about what it is to be human I think can be a beautiful thing.”