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November 08, 2015 01:50 PM

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt made a “private pact” while filming By the Sea, their first film together in 10 years: “We were going to try to be as open and honest and emotive as possible and give to each other as much as we could,” Jolie told The Telegraph, “and, succeed or fail, we would just lay it bare.”

The shoot, a working honeymoon in Malta, wasn’t always smooth sailing, Jolie Pitt told the paper, in a candid discussion of the personal and professional work that went into the film.

“There were days during filming last year when we were really worried and it was hard,” she said.

“But,” she continued, “at the end we came out of it thinking, ‘This was the best honeymoon,’ because the film says, ‘Whatever you go through, weather the storm and stick together.’ ”

Jolie Pitt, 40, said the couple thought By the Sea might be a similar filming experience as Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2005 – “that kind of fun. ”

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

See Brad and Angelina Work the Maleficent Premiere Red Carpet

Still, Jolie Pitt was clear that By the Sea, a drama about a marriage on the brink, which she wrote and directed, is not autobiographical.

“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 said.

“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,” she said.

Directing her husband, 51, for the first time posed its own challenges because Jolie Pitt said she knows the actor so well.

“These were very sensitive themes and I know Brad’s triggers and what he can do and what he is thinking about, so I had to step away and just be very careful in how he was directed,” Jolie Pitt said.

She said she “tried to give him a safe space and tell him to trust me and I would do my best to protect him in the editing room if he would be as open and give me as much of himself and his emotions and his honesty – and he did.”

“I think he worked very hard,” she said

“The strangest things were the scenes when we were fighting,” she said, “and it was so weird trying to tell him to fight with me better.”

Pitt, for his part, told PEOPLE he has “no desire” to direct his wife: “I’d rather work for her.”

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