Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt surprised the world in 2016 when they announced that they were breaking up. But unbeknownst to fans, the actors had long been having relationship issues.
Jolie said that things had become “difficult,” while Pitt admitted that he struggled with substance abuse and anger issues. But they did not want to immediately give up on their relationship.
So, in an attempt to mend it, the Salt actress proposed that they do a movie together. After all, they did fall in love on the set of 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Jolie tried to salvage her and Pitt’s relationship with this film
The Maleficent actress attempted to fix things with the 2015 romantic drama film, By the Sea, which she wrote, starred in, and directed.
“We had met working together and we worked together well,” she explained on The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast in December of 2017. “I wanted us to do some serious work together…I thought it would be a good way for us to communicate. In some ways it was, and in some ways, we learned some things.”
“There was a heaviness probably during that situation that carried on, and it wasn’t because of the film,” she continued. Jolie acknowledged that the movie mirrored their real-life situation, but noted that that wasn’t exactly her intention.
“It was something that we were dealing…things happen for different reasons, and things…why did I write that exact piece? Why did we feel that way when we made it? I’m not sure,” she continued.
A recap of ‘By the Sea’
The film focuses on a troubled couple who are staying in a hotel by the sea. Ironically, Pitt’s character likes to drink a lot, and Jolie’s character struggles with depression stemming from infertility issues. They begin to use voyeurism as a means to regain their attraction to each other and eventually patch up their relationship.
While the film received praise for its imagery, its plot received lukewarm reviews. Notable outlets like Roger Ebert gave the movie one star, calling it empty and generic. Others criticized it on social media.
Less than a year after its November 2015 release, Jolie filed for divorce. TMZ reported in September of 2016 that the actress pulled the plug due to “a conflict over the kids, substance abuse and anger.” (Jolie and Pitt share six children.) As of writing, their divorce is still pending.
Jolie later opened up about how much the split changed her, explaining that she felt a little “lost” after it happened.
“I think it was at the end of my relationship with Brad and then when we separated,” she told Madame Le Figaro. “It was complicated, I didn’t recognize myself anymore, and I’d become, how do I say this, smaller, insignificant, even if I didn’t show it. I was profoundly, deeply sad. I was hurt.”
But even so, she has no regrets about making By the Sea.
“A piece of art can be something that’s healing or something that’s difficult. I don’t know. I’m glad we did that film because we did explore something together,” she said in the THR interview. “Whatever it was maybe it didn’t solve certain things, but we did communicate something that needed to be communicated to each other.”