The actress talks about her time in Namibia, her mother and her children

By Courtney Rubin
Updated August 24, 2007 09:00 AM

When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt left Namibia after the birth of their daughter Shiloh in May 2006, Pitt described their time there as “truly peaceful.”

Now Jolie explains why that was: “We’d have dinner in the dunes by candlelight,” she tells the British edition of Marie Claire in its October issue.

“We would have tents out there,” says Jolie, 32. “We had the ocean” – and they had the sound of Jolie’s laughter.

“I tend to think I’m very serious – or dark,” says the actress. “I’ve been accused of being dark. But I would start laughing and then I would be crying and I’d fall off the bed. It would be a serious moment and then, suddenly, I would just go.”

Another example of the serious turning comical: Jolie and Pitt’s endearments. Asked what happened the first time the pair said, “I love you,” Jolie replies: “I don’t think we’ve ever done that. I mean, I’m sure we have, but we would punch each other in the arm first!”

Once it was determined that Shiloh was in the breech position, Jolie and Pitt checked into the Cottage Hospital in Swakopmund for a Caesarean – and Jolie started laughing again.

“Brad has a film of me in the hospital,” Jolie says. “They were trying to put the IV in and I began laughing so hard. I was out of my mind. But it was lovely. He put on an iPod and, 20 minutes later, they were like, ‘OK, we’re going to lift her out.'”

Jolie and Pitt’s one request of the hospital: that in the moments following her birth the baby never be taken from Jolie’s hospital room.

“Thirty minutes later, I was breastfeeding,” she recalls. “And I was on the phone with my mom, who was also in the hospital.” Jolie’s mother, “Marcheline Bertrand, suffered with ovarian cancer, and died in January 2007. “We were laughing because we were both under the same assumed name,” says Jolie, “and we both had been given lots of morphine.”

Jolie left the hospital three days later. Her mother succumbed eight months to the day after Shiloh’s birth – which still serves as a source of pain for the actress.

“I talked to my brother [actor James Haven] the other day and we both said, ‘God, it’s weird, isn’t it? You just suddenly start crying for no reason,” says Jolie.

She burst into tears two months after her mother’s death, when she returned from Vietnam with son Pax. “[My mother] had actually picked that name before she passed – she loved it.” Only, once Jolie brought the boy home, “I couldn’t call her – that was hard. But she suffered so much in the last few years and I am happy for my friend that she is not in pain.”

Jolie says she is “grateful” that her mother got to meet all her kids. Bertrand spent time with Maddox, Zahara and “in the last few days of [Bertrand’s] life, I brought Shiloh to the hospital room. [The baby] kept pulling her oxygen, and my mother kept saying, ‘It’s OK, I don’t need it.’ That’s such a perfect grandmother, you know? You don’t need your oxygen.”

On the day her mother died, Jolie flew in from New Orleans. “It was an hour after I landed that she passed,” she recalls. “It was like she knew we were all together. It was certainly one of the worst days of my life – and then it was also one of the most beautiful, realizing that is how family takes care of family. It was another gift she gave us.”

While Pitt “helped me through everything,” Jolie says, it was actually her ex-husband, Billy Bob Thornton, who offered the best advice. “He said, ‘You’ll never get over it. It’s never going to be OK and, once you accept that, you realize you would never want to get over it. Just kind of let it sit with you and let it be a part of who you are now.’ ”