Angelina Jolie Pitt is calling the shots as actress, mother, philanthropist, and auteur. Next month, she and her husband, Brad Pitt, will appear as a married couple in By the Sea, which she wrote and directed and is their first on-screen outing since Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
“The director was very focused. The actress was unstable. And the writer was deeply confused,” says Angelina Jolie Pitt. Then she laughs. She’s talking about what it was like to direct herself and her husband as a married couple in her own script for By the Sea, an elegiac exploration of grief and love. Ten years after her last collaboration with Brad Pitt, Mr. & Mrs. Smith—the movie that sparked their relationship—it’s about as far from that marriage-as-war-of-assassins comedy as you can get.
“This is the only film I’ve done that is completely based on my own crazy mind,” she says, speaking with humor and intensity, bringing to life a soulless room at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Outside is glittering, heat-wave sun, umbrellas packing the Los Angeles beaches. Inside, Angelina’s in black—skinny pants, short-sleeved silk blouse—which makes her printer paper–white skin even whiter. She wears no makeup. Why bother? Her beauty has only deepened with time.
For years, she says, she and Brad called the script for By the Sea “the crazy one. We even called it ‘the worst idea.’ ” She laughs again, and covers her face with her hands. “As artists we wanted something that took us out of our comfort zones,” she explains. “Just being raw actors. It’s not the safest idea. But life is short.” Angelina, of course, has never played it safe. And at this point in her mythic life, perhaps the only risk left is to pare down the myth, expose her self.
• x006 Vogue November 2015.