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Angelina Jolie on How Her Late Mother Influenced Her Own Parenting: ‘I Try to Lead by Example’

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 Angelina Jolie opened up about her late mother, French-American actress Marcheline Bertrand, in a new French interview with journalist and longtime friend Marianne Pearl for Elle France.

In the interview, which appears in the current issue of the magazine but took place in April, Jolie, 41, spoke candidly with Pearl about how she strives to be an example for her six children just as Bertrand had done before she died from cancer in January 2007 at age 56.

“She would have thrived as a grandmother,” Jolie said when asked what she tells her kids about Bertrand. Jolie shares her children with estranged husband Brad Pitt — Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 10, and 8-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.

The legacy Bertrand bequeathed to her daughter lives on in full force both in Jolie’s life and in the lives of her kids.

“I know how much she would have contributed to their lives and I am sad they will miss out on that,” she said. “I would give anything for her to be with me at this time. I’ve needed her. I talk to her often in my mind and try to think what she might say and how she might guide me.”

Heng Sinith/AP
Heng Sinith/AP

Bertrand, who had small roles in movies — including 1983’s The Man Who Loved Women — raised Jolie and brother Haven by herself after divorcing their father, Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, when Jolie was a toddler.

RELATED VIDEO: Angelina Jolie Pitt Opens Up About Raising Her Six Children, Her Mother’s Death

“It is the greatest gift and responsibility,” Jolie said about being a mother of six. “It means doing everything that you can to live by your values and try to be an example to your children.”

Jolie has previously opened up about how she keeps her mother’s memory alive, including her decision to be the face of new perfume from Guerlain, her mother’s favorite perfume house. “It spoke to her, as it does to me, of beauty, history, and quality; one of the oldest perfume houses in the world, from France, a country I love and feel connected to,” Jolie explained to Marie Claire in April about her first international beauty campaign in a decade.

Courtesy Guerlain

But for Jolie, the campaign isn’t only about fragrance. A longtime humanitarian, Jolie serves as Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, and she has made sure her partnership with Guerlain is just as charitable as it is beautiful. In January, a Guerlain representative confirmed to PeopleStyle that on top of being the face of the product, she would donate her entire salary from the campaign to one of her own charities.

“I try to lead by example, being conscious of others and being responsible. And to help them have a broader view of the world,” Jolie also told French Elle about how she shares her passion of being very involved politically with her kids.

“But really the only way I know to raise them is to really listen. It’s perhaps the most important thing any parent can do. They are resilient children but they are children, and as much as they need help to understand the hard truths in life they also need what we all need – protection and love,” she said.

This year for Mother’s Day in the U.S., Jolie celebrated the holiday with her second oldest son Pax at Los Angeles hotspot TAO Asian Bistro. Pax was able to enjoy some quality time with his mom on her special day as they enjoyed dinner without his other siblings.