Angelina Jolie revealed in a new Today show interview on Monday, Nov. 2, that her late mom, Marcheline Bertrand, made doctors and nurses “promise” to take her daughter’s ovaries out as she battled ovarian cancer nearly a decade ago.
Recalling her mother’s influence on her life, Jolie, 40, joined by her husband, Brad Pitt, told Tom Brokaw on Monday that their upcoming movie, By the Sea, was inspired by the grief she endured following her mom’s death in 2007. (Bertrand passed away at age 56 after succumbing to ovarian cancer following an eight-year battle.)
“We can’t say what the whole film is about, but a lot of the film was when I went to visit my mom in the hospital, when she found out she had cancer the first time,” Jolie recalled. “She was going to have her ovaries removed, [and] was very upset, feeling like…they’re taking out her parts that were female, and there was a woman down the hall who was wailing. I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet, and that put everything into perspective.”
During the editing portion of the movie, Jolie learned this past spring that she could have early stage ovarian cancer. It was then that she decided to have her ovaries, as well as her Fallopian tubes removed, close to two years after she underwent a double mastectomy.
“We had some of the same nurses, some of the same doctors,” Jolie said of Bertrand. “So, the doctor that did my ovary surgery was my mother’s doctor. And apparently my mother had said to her, ‘Promise me you will take Angie’s ovaries out.’ So when we kind of got together, we both had a big cry, and she said, ‘I promised your mother, and I’ve gotta do this.”’
Jolie, who detailed the surgeries for the New York Times this past March, opened up further about about the hormonal imbalances and early menopause. “I knew the breast would be a bigger surgery and physically changing,” she shared. “The ovaries is more, your hormones changing and your emotions changing, but it’s different. You feel different.”
“There was no vanity to my wife’s approach,” Pitt, 51, said of Jolie’s procedures. “It was mature. ‘This is our life and we’re gonna make the best of it.’ There was a strength in that. It was just another one of those things in life that makes you tighter, and she was doing it for the kids, and she was doing it for her family so we could be together.”
Jolie knew her husband was with her — all the way. “I knew through the surgeries that he was on my side and that this wasn’t something where I was gonna feel less of a woman because my husband wasn’t gonna let that happen,” she shared. “To face these issues together and speak about them and talk about what it is to be human, I think can be a beautiful thing.”
Watch their Today show appearance above!