"She has always been the brave, bold individual that I fell for," Pitt said at the N.Y.C. premiere of World War Z
Credit: Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

Angelina Jolie may not have been at Brad Pitt‘s side at the New York premiere of his World War Z Monday night – like she was at the London opening – but she wasn’t far from his mind.

“She’s getting ready for World Refugee Day” this Thursday, Pitt told reporters on the red carpet, while Jolie was in Los Angeles.

Asked to describe his feelings about Jolie after she publicly announced her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, Pitt replied: “She has always been the brave, bold individual that I fell for – and sexy as ever.”

Pitt also talked about his movie, a “bad-ass” (his word) zombie extravaganza, and the reaction of his kids – Maddox, 11; Pax, 9; Zahara, 8; Shiloh, 7; and twins Knox and Vivienne, 4 – to it.

“They love these kinds of things,” he said, “and that’s the thing that first drew me to it.”

Then again, Maddox has a vested interest in the movie: he’s in it.

“He’s got a small piece in it,” said Pitt. “He’s a zombie who then gets shot. I don’t know what that says about my parenting!”

Abigail Hargrove, who plays the Pitt character’s older daughter in the movie, confirmed Maddox’s acting bug, saying, “I remember one day he was talking to his dad, Brad, and I remember him talking about how he had to shave off his Mohawk because he had to play one of the zombies and I was like, ‘No! Not the Mohawk!’ But he was very excited to be a zombie. Definitely.”

And, PEOPLE asked Pitt, which does he find more difficult, making a blockbuster like this or – because he and Jolie announced their engagement in April 2012 – planning a wedding?

“Ha, ha, ha!” Pitt replied, suddenly continuing down the red carpet. “I’m movin’ on, man. I’m moving on!”

By KC Baker and Stephen M. Silverman