Angelina Jolie Pitt Hopes Filming in Cambodia Will Help Maddox 'Understand Who He is'

by Jackie Willis 9:46 AM PDT, July 29, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Angelina Jolie Pitt can't stress enough the personal importance of filming a movie in Cambodia, where her son, Maddox Jolie Pitt, was born.

The Oscar winner has signed on to direct a Netflix film set in Cambodia, based on author and human-rights activist Loung Ung's 2000 memoir, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. The movie, like the book, will be about surviving the deadly Khmer regime. Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975, and began a four-year reign in which nearly two million Cambodians died.

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While this sort of human rights story is right up Jolie's alley in terms of directing, the location of the film also hits close to home. In 2002, the actress adopted 7-month-old Maddox from an orphanage in western Cambodia after working in the country on the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001.

She also launched a charity in the country 12 years ago, now called the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, to "help local families overcome problems associated with poverty in the region and to help preserve the remarkable habitat and wildlife for future generations." This weekend, she took her son back to poverty-stricken locations that her charity is helping in the country.

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"As Maddox and I prepare the film we will be side by side learning about his country. He is turning 14 next week and this is a very important time for him to understand who he is," Jolie told the Associated Press. "He is my son but he is also a son of Cambodia. This is the time for our family to understand all that that means to him and to us."

Jolie, 40, insisted that her son will be very involved in the making of this movie. "Maddox will be on set every day after school and involved behind the scenes," she said. "And yes, Maddox is already involved in the Foundation and will take over my role when he is older."

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The mother-of-six also expressed her passion to tell Ung's story and uplift the country of Cambodia.

"My desire to tell this story in the most truthful and accurate way possible will be my tribute to the strength and dignity of all Cambodian people," she continued. "We will be spending the next few months scouting for locations, casting the film, but most importantly researching every event to make sure it is historically accurate and will pay respect not only to Loung Ung and her family but to every single individual who suffered under the Khmer Rouge."

Jolie says she seeks to keep the film based on the victims and not the violence. "The intent of this project is not to revisit the horrors of the war but to bring to the screen characters that people around the world will empathize with, and to help other people to learn about Cambodia."

The making of this film will surely be a learning experience for Maddox. ET has watched the oldest son of Jolie and Brad Pitt grow up over the years.

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In May 2014, Jolie revealed to ET's Nancy O'Dell that Maddox had a girlfriend! "She's great," Jolie gushed. "I won't embarrass him. She's lovely. She lives in England. She's very cool."

Per usual, Maddox's parents were supportive of the young love. "We go there as often as possible. It's really, really sweet," she said. "She's a great lady, so I'm lucky. So far, we're doing good."

We look forward to seeing what Cambodia has in store for this Hollywood heir!