Jolie Pitt wrote, directed, produced, and stars in the film alongside her husband (the first time they’ve starred together since 2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith), playing a couple in a troubled marriage — which, they said, is nothing like their real-life relationship.
“I’m counting on the audience to know that if it was close to us at all, we could never make this film — it’s because we’re actually very stable and these aren’t our issues,” she told Tom Brokaw.
The film was inspired by Jolie Pitt’s grief after the death of her mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 and died in 2007 at the age of 56.
“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,” she said. “She was gonna have her ovaries removed, (and) she 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.”
Earlier this year, Jolie Pitt had her ovaries removed after a blood test showed she could have signs of early-stage ovarian cancer. That surgery came two years after she underwent a double mastectomy after testing positive for a BRCA1 gene mutation that predisposes her to developing breast cancer.
“There was no vanity to my wife’s approach,” Pitt said. “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.”
“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,” Jolie Pitt added. “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.”
By the Sea opens Nov. 13. You can see its latest trailer below.