In 2015, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt starred together in By the Sea – as a troubled married couple in 1970s France

By Dave Quinn
Updated September 21, 2016 04:00 PM
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From the very start of their marriage, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt didn’t shy away from conflict.

Just after they wed in 2014, the couple had what Jolie described as an “unconventional” honeymoon – flying to an island off Malta along with their children to scream at one another for weeks while filming By the Sea, which depicted a couple in crisis in 1970s France.

“We may have been having big fights on the set during the day, but at night we were tag-teaming on the bedtime story. As much as we can argue and fight – and we all have our challenges – at the end I say, ‘My job is to love him,’ ” Jolie, who also wrote and directed the film, told PEOPLE last year.

Though they’re divorcing now, at the time of the film’s premiere Jolie said their relationship was stronger than ever – thanks in part to playing spouses on the rocks.

The 41-year-old actress told PEOPLE her on and off-screen disagreements with Pitt, 52, brought them closer together.

“It strengthens a relationship if you can pass those big fights and those big things where you really come head-to-head,” she said. “Making the movie, we knew we were beating each other up. We knew we were giving each other tough days. But we agreed to see how far we could push each other.”

So what inspired them to do the film anyway? As Jolie told The Telegraph, they thought By the Sea might be a similar filming experience to Mr. and Mrs. Smith – “that kind of fun.” The pair met on the set of the film in 2003, and started a relationship afterward.

“But [we] realized very quickly that it wasn’t,” she said. “Then we joked that this is what happens after 10 years of marriage.”

And while the fights they had onscreen were intense, Jolie was quick to clarify the conflict between their characters was by no means autobiographical.

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“Brad and I have our issues, but if the characters were even remotely close to our problems we couldn’t have made the film,” she revealed. “To be clear: we have fights and problems like any other couple. We have days when we drive each other absolutely mad and want space, but the problems in the movie aren’t our specific problems.”

Coming out of the film, Jolie told PEOPLE she was more excited than ever for the couple’s future – speaking openly about how much she and Pitt enjoyed growing older together.

Jolie confessed: “We both appreciate the beauty in looking at each other and thinking, ‘God, you’re just getting stranger as you’re getting older.’ Brad and I are fortunate because we see the beauty in each other’s changes. I’m more interested in his 50-year-old self than his 40-year-old self. And then you look forward to even more years together.”

Reporting by MARY GREEN