Angelina Jolie lost her mother in January. This spring, the actress found that her mother still lived — inside herself.
“If I am even a sliver of what my mother was,” Jolie told TODAY’s Ann Curry.
“She was extraordinary, so full of kindness and love.”
Marcheline Bertrand, who separated from her husband, actor Jon Voight, when Jolie was a baby, raised her daughter and son James Haven by herself.
“She lived her life to be Mom,” Jolie said in the second part of an extraordinary and emotional interview with Curry.
Jolie is a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Refugee Agency. She’s traveled the world helping people displaced by war and disaster, and recently she and her partner, actor Brad Pitt, gave a million dollars to help AIDS orphans in Africa. One of her three adopted children, Zahara, is an AIDS orphan.
In her new movie, “A Mighty Heart,” co-produced by Pitt, she plays Mariane Pearl, the wife of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and killed by al-Qaida terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. The film is being shown out-of-competition at Cannes.
Jolie became close friends with Pearl during the filming, and the actress talked about how much she’s learned from Pearl’s strength and spirit. She was pregnant when Pearl's husband was murdered.
“There is,” said Jolie of Pearl, “such strength in her. And they have a beautiful little boy now who's the perfect combination of the two of them. And it's this shining example of them and everything they represent and believe in. He's her victory. I’m still amazed at how she has come through it.”
Her mother's influence
Curry noted all the humanitarian work that Jolie and Pitt are involved in, and wondered where that desire to make the world better comes from.
“My sense is you've got this thing from somebody, from somewhere,” Curry told Jolie. “And I'm thinking it might be your mother now. This incredible sense of wanting to do good, to be useful, to do something that's right. My sense from reading about your mother is that that was her.”
“She was,” Jolie replied.
For Bertrand, it was all about her family. “She was one of those women who would spend weeks to plan the right birthday party,” Jolie said. “And to write four drafts to get the right birthday card ready that said all those things that were emotional, and you could save them and that meant something.”
Naturally, Jolie rebelled. Her mother saved things and talked about moments from her children’s past.
“I never save things and I never take pictures,” she said. When her mother would talk about something that happened when she was 4, Jolie would reply, “Gotta live in the future. Gotta live in the future.”
When her mother spent forever making up an Easter basket, Jolie thought something was wrong with the woman.
“It used to drive me crazy,” she said. “How long? It’s a basket, you know?”
And then this Easter, the first since her mother died, Jolie found herself spending forever preparing Easter baskets for her four children.
“I obsessed on it out of — somehow an understanding of there is nothing more important right now going on in my life than this Easter basket,” she laughed.
On Easter morning, the kids lit up when they saw them.
“They played with us all morning. They laughed,” she said. “It was lovely. It was great, you know? Everything else stopped to do that.”
“And that’s my mom.”