Decoding Angelina Jolie's Post-Split Game Plan: What Her Return to the Spotlight With Kids in Tow Really Means

Five months after filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, the multi-hyphenate star has broken her silence with a calm vengeance

By Natalie Finn Feb 21, 2017 9:10 PMTags

Angelina Jolie has never seemed to care much about what people think of her, nor has she put much stock in meeting/confirming/contradicting people's expectations or playing the old Hollywood game of give-and-take with the media or the public in general. She's been an A-lister abiding by her own agenda for the most part, and it's always worked.

But that doesn't mean she doesn't care at all.

The mother of six went on a veritable tear of publicity over the last few days--as in a red carpet appearance and at least two sit-down interviews—that, while she does have a movie to promote, still felt sudden after five months of silence, minus what the world has heard from her via her attorney in court documents pertaining to her divorce from Brad Pitt.

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With the only alternative being to pull a Greta Garbo and retire from public life, we knew that Jolie was going to have to get back out there soon—especially since Pitt had already tested the waters first with his surprise appearance at the Golden Globes last month to tout Best Movie Drama winner Moonlight, which was produced by his Plan B Entertainment.

The amount of adulation for Pitt in that room was a convincing sign that the actor-producer's personal troubles hadn't marred his image among his peers.

Not that that was Jolie's intent when she sought sole custody of their children and expressed concern for Pitt's parenting in various court filings, including one in which she alleged the actor was "terrified that the public will learn the truth." She had her reasons pertaining to their family dynamic and whatever went on behind closed doors.

But it was impossible to tell what, exactly, the knee-jerk public response would be after Pitt—who bounced back in record time from the PR nightmare that was his divorce from Jennifer Aniston by becoming the family man of everyone's dreams—was investigated by family services (nothing ever came of it) and was at first relegated to supervised visitation.

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So far it appears that Pitt has neither gained nor lost in the court of public opinion—one less thing for him (or his team) to have to think about while he focuses on his relationship with his kids and navigating life as a single man for the first time in more than 17 years.

And while Jolie has never been one to rise and fall with the opinion tide, she clearly doesn't want her personal life to be clouding her endeavors down the road, either, whether cinematic or humanitarian.

AP Photo/Heng Sinith

While we aren't predicting a Ben Affleck-Jennifer Garner-style show of familial solidarity anytime soon, Jolie did make sure to show that the kids are, indeed, all right this past weekend.

Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne were by her side in Cambodia for the red carpet premiere of First They Killed My Father, Jolie's latest directorial effort, based on a true story about a survivor of the Pol Pot regime. Maddox, whom Jolie adopted from Cambodia in 2002, served as a producer.

This was the first public appearance by mother and all six children since the divorce—and while it was a carefully regulated photo opportunity, you can bet the world was excited to see that first shot of all the Jolie-Pitt kids together.

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Then it was onto the interviews for Jolie, a perfect re-entree into the arena because, first and foremost, she was discussing some of the issues closest to her heart.

And while surely the outlets were pre-prohibited from too much probing into the personal, the star knew she had to say something about the divorce drama.

"I don't want to say very much about that, except to say it was a very difficult time," Jolie told BBC World News. "We are a family and we will always be a family, and we will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it."

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"Many, many people find themselves in this situation," she added. "My whole family, we've all being through a difficult time.

"My focus is my children, our children, and my focus is finding this way through. We are and forever will be a family. I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer."

Overall, she acknowledged, "It's been a difficult few months." As for her kids and what the future holds for all of them, Jolie said that she's continuing to try to show her brood the world "not through the prism of Hollywood or through a certain kind of life," but rather raise them as well-rounded citizens of the world.

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That mirrors the sort of things she's said before about her reasons for living abroad and wanting her kids to be able to set a course in life that really speaks to them as individuals.

But what about Brad, specifically?

"Of course, of course," Jolie replied to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos when he asked, in an interview that aired Tuesday on Good Morning America, if she still thought Pitt was a good father. 

Kiera Fyles/Splash News

"We will always be a family, always," she added.

It's not that we expected her to give a tearful tell-all in which she detailed horrible behavior on her ex's part, and it's entirely her right to never give a shred of further detail as to what prompted her legal decisions.

Nevertheless, quite the can of worms was opened when she, after years of singing Pitt's praises as a father (even when it became apparent that the couple themselves were experiencing growing pains), tried to get sole custody.

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There's no way that Jolie, after all she's been through personally and professionally—as the daughter of actors, as a public figure herself since she was a teen, as a bad girl Oscar winner turned humanitarian and women's health advocate—didn't know her every maneuver in court would be of the utmost interest to...well, everybody.

So now it seems to be the time to rein it in, to place her divorce back in the realm of the "many, many people" who know what it's like to go through difficult times, and she's no different from them at the end of the day.

While Pitt had less time than he probably would've preferred to lie low right after Jolie filed on Sept. 19, the actor having to make some rounds in support of his spy thriller Allied, we have a feeling that we'll be hearing from him soon as well.

Morning show, magazine cover, the London Times... we won't know exactly where or when, but it's coming.

And with Jolie having set the tone—family first, stronger together—you know Pitt will be reaffirming what a great parent she is as well in due time.