Angelina Jolie opens up about her Cambodian movie and focusing on health of her family

Jolie discusses the importance of family and her attachment to Cambodia.

ByABC News
February 21, 2017, 7:32 AM

— -- Actress Angelina Jolie sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Tuesday to talk about her new film set in Cambodia, how meaningful the country is for her and how she’s been focused on her family amid her impending divorce from actor Brad Pitt.

"We are focusing on the health of our family," Jolie told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. "So we will be stronger when we come out of this because that's what we're determined to do as a family."

Those remarks concerning her recent marriage break up came as she was discussing her new film, "First They Killed My Father," which is set in Cambodia, a country she said "means a great deal" to her.

The film, slated for release on Netflix later this year, is based on human rights activist Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir of the same name which recounts her experience as a war orphan under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime.

"I wanted to tell the story of Luong Ung who’s a dear friend of mine,” Jolie said. Ung co-wrote the screenplay for the film along with her.

Jolie first visited Cambodia in 2000 while filming "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," and she’s often referred to it as her second home.

In 2002, she adopted her eldest child Maddox, 15, from an orphanage in Battambang.

"I don’t know much of my child’s birth parents but I believe they would have gone through this war," Jolie said. "I wanted to understand him and his culture in a deeper way and I wanted to bring this story to this country in their language."

Angelina Jolie directed the upcoming film that is based on a memoir with the same name written by Loung Ung.
Angelina Jolie directed the upcoming film that is based on a memoir with the same name written by Loung Ung.

"So being with him on set and studying the history of his country with him and being with his fellow countrymen every day was extraordinary," Jolie said. "Pax [her 13-year old] also worked on the film he did the still photography. It was very special."

In addition to discussing the movie, Jolie, who is also special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, talked about her concern for global humanitarianism and her fear that refugees have been blamed in the recent political climate.

"To use fear tactics and summarize groups of people based on their backgrounds based on their religion and to accuse them all of being people we should be afraid of is policy based on fear and is not nearly close to the reality of what is happening and who these people are," she told Stephanopoluous.

In making the film, Jolie laid out a clear vision that she wanted to shoot the movie entirely on location in Cambodia, in the Cambodian language Khmer and with Cambodian actors -- preferably unknown ones.

But she said she wanted to do justice to a country and people who have suffered so much.

"Many of the scenes we were recreating people had actually personally experienced," she said. "Everyday on set was very emotional."

"And most everyone in our crew survived this war and lost family members," she added.

In the period of history that Jolie's film describes, as many as a quarter of the population, or 1.7 million, were killed under the brutal Khmer Rouge dictatorship.

Jolie has remained, mostly, out of public view since her recent split from actor Brad Pitt. The two actors were together for more than a decade and married for two years before Jolie filed for divorce last September.

In a joint statement released last month, the stars announced that they would handle the impending divorce privately, a decision they said was made in the best interest of their family. They have six children together.

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