THE DESERT PHOTOSHOOT – by
The last time we saw Brad Pitt and his partner Angelina Jolie in such an idyllic family scene they were simply playing at parenthood, dressed in a retro gear and surrounded by a trio of blond-haired child models to promote their film Mr and Mrs Smith. But it’s now nearly one year later, and this time round the images of the couple, set against the backdrop of the sweeping sands of he Namib desert, aren’t just a fantasy.
Since they became a real-life couple, the pair, along with their adopted children Maddox and Zahara, have been photographed globetrotting everywhere from the Dominican Republic to Japan, from Haiti to Paris.
But these exclusive posed photos, quiet, simple and unassuming, capture the Hollywood stars and their growing brood in their most intimate family moments as they enjoy their real-life African adventure—and await the birth of their baby.
Brad, looking rugged in a Khaki T-shirt and trousers, is every inch the father figure, kneeling down to play with four-year-old Maddox, helping little Zahara get her bearings as she toddles around and hoisting her up into his shoulders—an enviable vantage point from which to take in the magnificent scenery.
Angelina, meanwhile, looks like she couldn’t be more plased as she reclines in the sand during a family picnic, a baby bag at the ready.
“Angie and Brad have a real love for the people of Africa and Africa itself,” the couple’s philanthropic adviser Trevor Neilson told HELLO! “They have very much enjoyed their time in Namibia, and the people there have been wonderful hosts. They love the country and the people.”
It was there in 2002 that Angelina first began sharing her life with Maddox, whom she’d adopted from a Cambodian orphanage during the filming of the first Tomb Raider film. She was in Namibia to shoot another movie, Beyond Borders, when the adoption came through, and it was there that she spent her first night with her then seven-month-old baby—her first night as a mother.
Making Beyond Borders, a film about humanitarian work, had a profound effect on her. “When I read the script it started to change me,” she said at the time. “I was amazed at how much it had changed me and then, in the making of it, how much it meant to me. It just inspired me to start traveling and to educate myself.
“I wanted to learn more. I sat up one night and felt I should be more responsible about what I was doing with my life and have more purpose. I don’t understand exactly what’s going on unless I’m inside a place.”
It seems that things have come full circle, as Angelina, about to give birth for the first time, will be welcoming her child with Brad in Namibia. And in the meantime, as they happily await the new arrival, the adventure-seeking couple, who have in the past been spotted piloting aircraft and dashing around on his and hers motorbikes, are taking full advantage of their African sojourn.
Brad has been seen zooming around on his Ducati motorbike, and, as a family, they’ve visited various locales during their stay at the luxurious Burning Shore lodge, where Brad plays catch with Maddox in the garden. High speed high jinks seem to be a theme on the desert jaunt, as the actor also went quad-biking with the little boy at the Desert Explorers Adventure Centre, as heavily pregnant Angelina and her little girl looked on.
To slow things down a bit the foursome have been checking out the local wildlife at the Okonjima Lodge, home to the AfriCat Foundation which is dedicated to the conservation of cheetahs and leopards, and the Harnas Wildlife Foundation and Guestfarms, which counts Angelina as a patron.
Meanwhile, the hoopla surrounding the fiercely private family has reached fever pitch, with daily reports on them sometimes based on the flimsiest of rumours. One particularly memorable piece claimed lions were guarding the couple.
There undoubtedly is plenty of tight security surrounding them, helping to keep the lenses of the paparazzi at bay. The local government have even been involved, according to the Associated Press, doing their part to keep the family’s private life private by reminding journalists that they must have valid work permits or risk being arrested.
So it was not exactly a shock when Brad, in an AP phone interview from Namibia, responded “absolutely not” when asked if he’d like to comment on his impending fatherhood. He did, however, speak freely about the African country he and Angelina have called home for the past few weeks, breaking what had been a lengthy silence on the subject of where they settle.
“Namibia’s just a country we’re very fond of,” he said. “It’s a beautiful land and hospitable people, and a place that we want to be for the time being.”
The architecture aficionado is teaming up with Global Green USA, an American environmental organization, to launch a design competition to rebuild, in an eco-friendly way, areas of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
“Our goal is to kick off the rebuilding effort. It’s certainly long overdue. People are frustrated. We could possibly build something that is better and takes into account the historical traditions of the city and the voices of the people, and turn this into some kind of good.”
Angelina, like Brad, was using her fame towards a good cause last week. With all eyes on her as she counts down to her baby’s birth, she was shining the spotlight on the mass atrocities taking place in Sudan by taking out a full page ad in a US newspaper.
Angelina, a United nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador, has visited the volatile region twice. “I’m an actress, and certainly no foreign policy expert,” she states in the advertisement, which goes on to describe the killings of hundreds of thousands of civilians by a government-supported militia.
She was taking out the ad, she said, to encourage the full funding of
peacekeepers in Darfur. “If people are aware of the facts,” she said,
“I believe many will be driven to action.”
Angelina wants to “use her voice to help the most vulnerable”, Trevor Neilson told us. “She has a clear view of the world’s responsibility to protect its most vulnerable people, and that those who have power in our world have a responsibility to protect the powerless. She just feels that she can hopefully use whatever influence she has to draw attention to these issues.”
And she apparently has her partner’s full support in her efforts. “Brad is also very passionate about these issues, and has other areas that he also focuses on, but there is definitely a shared concern about issues of inequity and justice,” Trevor told us.
Although just weeks away from her May due date, it seems that Angelina’s passions are keeping her hard at work. “She’s right there, personally emailing, dictating, giving creative input,” said Trevor. “The Darfur project is her vision, her concept.”
No matter where in the world she is, the star seems never to forget her commitments. Her estranged father, actor Jon Voight, recently praised the way his daughter puts her A-list status to good use. “What do movie stars do with all that success, money, white-hot spotlight and fame?” he asked in an interview in the New York Post. “Angie has found a way. She’s investing her celebrity to help others.”
Concentrating on her pregnancy, her children and her charity efforts, Angelina is also apparently thinking about getting back to work. Lara Croft creator Ian Livingston told a British newspaper that the star has signed on to do a third Tomb Raider film, the follow-up The Cradle of Life.
“Paramount has optioned it and Angelina has agreed to star,” he is quoted as saying. And despite being heavily pregnant Angelina is supposedly already in training to help her return to form after she gives birth.
Preparations for the big day are well under way, and after being kept guessing for months about where the baby will make its debut, we now know it will be in Africa. The governor of the Namibian province where the couple are staying has even reportedly announced: “They are having the baby here, and they’ve talked about giving it a Namibian name.”
Zahara’s moniker has African roots, and it looks like Brad and Angelina may be looking for a second girl’s name, as the odds are they will be welcoming another daughter.
Before they moved to Africa, the family settled for a while in France. There they checked out items at a local baby boutique. It was apparently quite a shopping spree, with the two purchasing socks, a bonnet and layette. Most interestingly, however, they also picked out a number of dresses. “We think it’s a girl, but we’re not 100 per cent certain,” a source quotes Angelina as saying. To cover all bases, she is also said to have bought a tiny grey T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Boy’.
“Just in case,” she was overheard remarking, though she added: “Since I already have a boy and a girl, it doesn’t really matter!”
perhaps in order to make Maddox feel special and thwart the possibility of sibling rivalry, Brad seems recently to have been making an extra effort to bond with his adopted son. Though he no has a buzz cut, he tried out a Mohawk, matching cute Maddox’s famous ‘do. He’s also reportedly had a tattoo, a Buddhist prayer of protection similar to the one Angelina has in honour of Maddox, etched on his body.
With Maddox inspiring not just his father but perfect strangers to imitate his cute streetwise style, it seems we just can’t get enough the Jolie-Pitt family. And bra and Angelina mania shows no sign of winding down any time soon. Here in the UK, for example, it was revealed the film stars had become the most searched for couple on the internet, ousting the former number one pair, David and Victoria Beckham, from top spot.
And after large screens were put up around their beachfront lodge, speculation started up—again—about a possible wedding, this time in Namibia.
It was just the latest of many spots, including George Clooney’s Italian estate, to have been touted as possible wedding locations over the past few months. But since a ceremony has yet to crystallize, it looks like Brad and Angie will be toasting a new arrival before they’ll be celebrating a walk down the aisle.