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In this week’s cover story, Entertainment Weekly explores Angelina Jolie’s new role as the Disney villain in Maleficent — frightening small children (including her own), and trying to find the human side of someone so evil.

But at the end of our exclusive interview with actress, we also talked about something good she did: coming forward last May in the New York Times op-ed “My Medical Choice” to detail her decision to have a double mastectomy after genetic tests showed she was at risk for breast cancer.

The surprising revelation? The very people she had hoped to help ended up helping her.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Exactly a year ago, you were in the middle of having your surgeries. I’m just wondering, how are you today?

ANGELINA JOLIE: I’m great! I’m very happy I made the decision. I was very fortunate to have great doctors and very, very fortunate to have a good recovery and have a project like Unbroken [the World War II survival story she is directing] to have something to be really focused on, to be getting healthy for, and to be able to just get right back to work.

You could have kept your decision a secret. But you wrote that essay for The New York Times, urging other women to get tested. What kind of reaction have you gotten from that?

I feel very, very close — much closer — to other women, and women who are going through the same thing. Wherever I go, usually I run into women and we talk about health issues, women’s issues, breast cancer, ovarian cancer. I’ve talked to men about their daughters’ and wives’ health. It makes me feel closer to other people who deal with the same things and have either lost their parents or are considering surgeries or wondering about their children. … The reason that I wrote it was to try to communicate and help and connect with other women and other families going through the same thing. And … I was very, very moved by all the support and kindness from so many people.

It makes you embarrassed to talk about that part, doesn’t it?

[Smiles] Yeah, a little bit.

I imagine you must get mail …

I do, and it’s lovely.

Was the reaction helpful for you, personally?

There’s still another surgery to have, which I haven’t yet [Jolie is also genetically at risk for ovarian cancer, which is what took her mother’s life at age 56]. I’ll, you know, I’ll get advice from all these wonderful people who I’ve been talking to, to get through that next stage.

For all these stories and more, pick up the new issue of EW, on stands Friday, March 7.

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