It was only after Jolie Pitt came to Cambodia to film 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider that her maternal instinct began to kick in.
The experience prompted her to become a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, and an early trip back to the country changed her view on motherhood.
“It’s strange, I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother,” the 40-year-old told the Associated Press.
She quickly changed her mind, however, after playing with children at a Cambodian school. “It was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere.”
She found him in 2002 when she adopted Maddox, now 14. She even set up a foundation in his name, which supports healthcare, education and conservation efforts in the rural parts of the country.
The philanthropist also shares five other children with husband Brad Pitt: Pax, 12, Zahara, 10, Shiloh, 9, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 7.
Despite keeping busy as a U.N. Ambassador while maintaining a career in Hollywood, Jolie Pitt never cut ties with the country and is back to film an adaptation of Cambodian author Loung Ung’s memoir First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers for Netflix.
The story follows the harrowing tale of war from a child’s perspective. She will act as co-writer, producer and director on the project.
“I was deeply affected by Loung’s book,” she said in a statement. “It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son’s homeland.”
Jolie Pitt is making the experience a family affair by recruiting her eldest sons to help out on the film. Maddox is assisting with research and Pax is acting as a set photographer.
“For me, this is the moment, where finally my life is kind of in line, and I feel I’m finally where I should be,” she added.