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Angelina Jolie had an 'ugly cry' when she dropped son Maddox off at college

Jolie needed the big sunglasses to hide the tears when she dropped oldest son Maddox, 18, at college in South Korea.
/ Source: TODAY

Angelina Jolie had a hard time letting go when she dropped her oldest son off for his freshman year of college.

Like many parents this time of year, Jolie, 44, couldn't hold back the tears when she said goodbye to her son Maddox, 18, as he headed off to Yonsei University in South Korea.

Angelina Jolie and Maddox
Angelina Jolie just experienced sending her oldest child, Maddox, 18, off to college for the first time. WireImage

"Oh my god, an 'embarrass your children' ugly cry!" she told Entertainment Tonight at the D23 Expo in California on Saturday.

"I also, just at some point, had the big (sun)glasses and the amount of times I turned and waved. I do know it was the one moment in my life I think I turned around six times before the airport just ... and he sweetly stayed and kept waving, knowing that I was going to keep turning around. You could feel he knew he couldn't leave."

Angelina Jolie and Maddox
Jolie adopted Maddox in 2002 from an orphanage in Cambodia. Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Jolie adopted Maddox when he was seven months old from an orphanage in Cambodia, and he is the oldest of her six children. Jolie and her ex-husband, Brad Pitt, have five other children, including Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and 11-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

"It's nice to know how much he knows he's loved," Jolie said. "And but yeah, I miss him, I miss him. Or I'll just get out there. It's not like I haven't set my plane tickets."

A video released last week showed Jolie helping Maddox get settled at school, where he he will study biochemistry. She held back tears as she said she was leaving that day.

"I'm trying not to cry,'' she said.

Jolie, who was in Anaheim promoting her upcoming movie "Marvel's The Eternals" and the "Maleficent" sequel "Mistresses of Evil," was also heartened by seeing how her tight-knit family came together to send Maddox off to school.

"What was very beautiful is the way everybody said goodbye,'' she said. "When it was time to take him to the airport, some jumped into the car to take him."

"When you know that your kids love each other and you see the way they all — without any kind of prompting or pushing — give each other notes, hug each other, take each other, support each other, then you feel like they're going to be okay and they're always going to have each other."