Angelina Jolie once wore a vial of blood around her neck from ex husband Billy Bob Thornton. She made out with her brother James at the Oscars. And she has admitted to cutting herself.
Her partner Brad Pitt and six kids know of her sordid past -- and don't care.
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"Brad knows me completely, exactly as I am, every part of me. He loves me," Jolie tells the July 11 issue of Parade magazine. "The kids love me. They know all my flaws and all my oddities. And they accept them. And so I can feel complete."
The Salt star (out Friday), 35, explains her wild past: "I went through a period when I felt my film characters were having more fun than I was. It might partly explain why I ended up tattooed or doing certain extreme things in my life."
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By age 16, she had already graduated from Moreno High School in Beverly Hills ("It's where the bad kids go," she explains.) and moved out of her family home. "I was the punk outsider who nobody messed with," she says. "I was fearless."
Jolie goes on, "I used to cut myself or jump out of airplanes, trying to find something new to push up against because sometimes everything else felt too easy. I was searching for something deeper, something more. I tried everything. I always felt caged, closed in, like I was punching at things that weren't there. I always had too much energy for the room I was in."
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She points out one of her 13 tattoos -- an inscription on her arm -- and reads it. "The wild heart caged. I unlocked my cage years ago. I want my children to have that freedom. I want that for other people, too," she says.
Jolie says she and Pitt, 45, are still deeply in love after five years of dating.
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"I feel sad for someone who has never known love. Love elevates. You know, Brad would joke about me having this conversation about love. Love? It's such a funny word. Brad can find certain phrases of poetry for it. I'm terrible at it. But I know it means wanting the best for the people you love, putting their interests above your own, always. Love does that. Love is what you live for."
The interviewer says Jolie looks at him "like I am nuts" when he asks if they are just together for the sake of their children: Maddox, 8, Pax, 6, Zahara, 5, Shiloh, 4, and twins Knox and Vivienne Marcheline, 2.
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"The children certainly tie us together, but a relationship won't hold if it's only about the kids. You also must be really interested in each other and have a really, really wonderful, exciting time together. We do," she says. "Brad and I love being together. We enjoy it. We need it, and we always find that special time. We stay connected. We talk about it. It's very important. If Brad and I are strong and happy, then our kids have happy parents, and that's the best thing we can give them."
They split parenting duties.
"He takes the kids to school; he visits me on set with the kids. I'm home for dinner, or I'm there for breakfast. We're together all the time. We plan. Brad and I take time off between films to travel, have big experiences, do things together. That's how we work it out," Jolie says.
Despite their globe-trotting charity efforts, the actress says she and Pitt are never "separated for more than three days, ever."
"We stay really connected. We actually don't go out much. It's funny. We're very homebound. We're very much Mommy and Daddy in our pajamas," she says.
Jolie tears up when discussing her mother Marcheline Bertrand, who died in 2007 at age 56 of ovarian cancer. "Forgive me... I loved her so much," she says while crying.
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"I remember Mother singing in church. How pretty she was! I lit candles with her. She said she had missed nothing in life except getting to know her grandchildren. When she passed away, I brought my son to church to light a candle for her," she says.