Angelina Jolie: Maddox and I Will Be “Side by Side Learning” About His Native Cambodia

Angelina Jolie and Maddox
Angelina Jolie said in a new interview that she and her eldest son, Maddox, will be "side by side learning" about his native Cambodia ahead of her new film. 

Back to where it began. Angelina Jolie shared in a new interview that she and her eldest son, Maddox, will be "side by side learning" about his native Cambodia as he works with his mom on her latest movie.

Jolie, 40, is directing the film adaptation of Loung Ung's memoir, First they Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia, in the country where Maddox was born and adopted at 7 months. The book sheds light on the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, resulting in the deaths of more than 1.7 million people.

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The Maleficent star told the Associated Press on Tuesday, July 28, that her 13-year-old son will help her research and prepare for the project. The actress, who adopted Maddox from an orphanage in 2002 while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, spoke in detail about her plans to learn more about Cambodia.

"I feel a deep connection to Cambodia. I want to respect its history and bring a film to the world that will not only show the hardships of war but the dignity and resilience of a people I deeply respect," she wrote via email to the AP. "The intent of this project is not to revisit the horrors of the war but to bring to the screen characters that people around the world will empathize with, and to help other people to learn about Cambodia."

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Ung's memoir tells the tale of her childhood, which took place during the bloody Khmer Rouge regime. "What is special about this particular story is that it is told from the perspective of a 5-year-old child, and is based on a child's emotional experience of war," Jolie continued. "It sheds light not only on the experience of children during the genocide in Cambodia but of all children who endure war."

Jolie — who has six kids with husband Brad Pitt — detailed how her teenage son will join her in the endeavor. "As Maddox and I prepare the film, we will be side by side learning about his country," she shared. "He is turning 14 next week and this is a very important time for him to understand who he is. He is my son but he is also a son of Cambodia. This is the time for our family to understand all that that means to him and to us. My desire to tell this story in the most truthful and accurate way possible will be my tribute to the strength and dignity of all Cambodian people."

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Between school and this endeavor, her son will be one very busy Hollywood scion. "Maddox will be on set every day after school and involved behind the scenes," the proud mom told the AP. "And yes, Maddox is already involved in the Foundation and will take over my role when he is older." (The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was launched in Cambodia 12 years ago. According to Jolie, its mission is "to help local families overcome problems associated with poverty in the region and to help preserve the remarkable habitat and wildlife for future generations.")

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This isn't Jolie's first time directing a movie memoir. The actress previously helmed the biopic of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, which told the story of the late Louis Zamperini, an Olympian turned prisoner of war during World War II. She also directed the upcoming drama By the Sea, which costars Pitt.

Filming for First They Killed My Father will begin in November.

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