Once she was a wild child, but now “I just save it for Brad,” says Angelina Jolie. | Jason Merritt~Getty Images
Updated: February 2, 2012 8:11AM
NEW YORK — There is a gender war going on today in the International House of Jolie-Pitt.
It turns out that Brad Pitt is an easy mark … for the little girls.
“In our house, we’re split 50-50,” gripes Angelina Jolie. “The girls know that Daddy is the biggest pushover. I will say, ‘Brad, you can’t just give the girls anything they want.’ He will look at me, smile, and say, ‘I have no choice. My girls are perfect.’ ”
Mama also has her kryptonite.
“Well,” she admits with a laugh. “Brad, has called me on things, too. He said, ‘Angie, you let the boys walk all over you.’ The truth is I do. Boys can push a mom. Girls can’t.
“Maybe that’s because women know women. We know little girls,” she muses. “I’ll say, ‘Girls, I know exactly what you’re doing. You’re working Daddy for that cookie.’ Men can never say no.”
Ask her what she loves the most about Pitt and she doesn’t hesitate. “Brad shows my girls how a woman should be treated by a man,” she says.
This woman is a screen icon, a global humanitarian, a busy partner and working mother. Now, she can add the word director to the mix.
She wrote and directed “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” opening Friday in Chicago. Her directorial debut recently earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language film.
Jolie wrote and directed the story of Danijel (Goran Kostic), a soldier in the Bosnian War who is fighting for the Serbs. Danijel encounters Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim, before the war at a local nightclub. Their attraction is strong, but they’re pulled apart by conflict.
She is taken prisoner at a camp where he is in charge. He puts out a strict order that she is not to be raped like the other women, but the conflict leads to a twisting path where both seek freedom and redemption.
“I never intended to direct,” Jolie says. “I never wanted to do it. I never thought I had the confidence to think I could write a script and direct it.
“But a few people who I allowed to read the script told me it was good,” she says. “There was a discussion of who should direct it and I felt linked with the project.”
She also sent the script to people involved in the conflict. “I thought if all sides agreed to participate in this film then I would direct it. If not, I would burn the script,” she says.
But starring in the film was not an option.
“I stepped back when I directed,” she says. “I thought, ‘You don’t need me here as an actress.’ ”
An avid humanitarian, Jolie has put thought into the Bosnian conflict. “It took too long for us to intervene, and the film in essence is about that time before we stepped in. I wanted an audience to sit in the theater and think, ‘Please stop this. Please.’ ”
She says her story focuses on the human side of war.
“It’s a story about the loss of humanity and the ugliness that takes over during a war,” she says. “It’s unbelievable how ugly people can be during war and how neighbors can kill neighbors. Friends kill friends. The violence in the film is a drop in the ocean to what’s happening today around the world.”
Her world began in Los Angeles as the daughter of Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. She began her career as a model and went on to star in films including “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2004), where she met her future mate. She won an Academy Award for “Girl, Interrupted” (1999).
Asked about lingering wildness from her impetuous past, Jolie is frank. “I just save it for Brad,” she says.
“I didn’t really know myself when I was younger,” she says. “I knew what I wasn’t. I knew that I was confused. I knew what hurt me. I knew what excited me.”
“What I didn’t know was how to be of use to other people. We don’t innately know how we can be of use and who we are inside when we’re young. We’re basically straddling fences when we’re young and searching.”
“I love aging because now I know where I stand. I’m defined. I stand taller,” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing to be able to stand taller.”
After divorces from actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie is happily globe-trotting and raising kids with partner Pitt. Their brood includes Maddox, 10; Pax, 8; Zahara, 6; Shiloh, 5, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 3.
She aspires to be the kind of mother her mother was to her. “There are very few people in the world who just live for others from a place of pure generosity and sweetness.”
She adds, “Even though my mom has passed away, we keep finding boxes with little things she put aside for the kids including greeting cards. My mom would spend two hours writing a birthday card for someone.”
She says her mom taught her life’s most important lessons.
“She taught me to be strong, but she was actually very soft,” Jolie says. “She knew it was in my nature to be a little tougher. She recognized it and thought that was great. She always just encouraged me and talked to me.
“She was my best friend.
“I try to talk to my kids in the same way. I try to just listen,” Jolie says. “I know I could never be as good a mom as my own. I’ll be different, but good.”
She says the Pitt-Jolie brood makes life crazy fun.
“I have great kids and they make it easy,” she says. “They also have a great dad, which is nice. He shows a lot of respect to their mother.”
On the set of “Blood and Honey,” she says, “All the kids would visit Mom at work. They knew that it was important to be quiet. Then they would go off with Dad to spend the rest of the day.”
Jolie provides the same lifestyle when Pitt is working.
What would she like to teach her children?
“Staying silent is absolutely the worst thing you can do in life,” she says. “Even if it’s scary, you must do what you feel compelled to do in life.”
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