Angelina Jolie says she has not felt like herself for a decade, after undergoing surgery to reduce her risk of breast cancer and dealing with a divorce.
In an interview with Vogue, the Hollywood actress also said she “would’ve gone under in a much darker way” if it had not been for her six children.
She added they were “still finding our footing” after a bruising few years.
In 2013, at the age of 37, Jolie had a double mastectomy after discovering she carried a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene, which put her at high risk of cancer. Her mother died of ovarian cancer.
Three years later, she filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, claiming he was emotionally and physically abusive towards her, and the children, on a private jet. Pitt denied the allegations and authorities did not press charges.
A legal battle over the couple’s assets is ongoing, with Jolie’s lawyers accusing Pitt of behaving like a “petulant child” over the French vineyard which they bought together.
Jolie told the magazine: “I’m still understanding who I am at 48. I guess I’m in transition as a person. I feel a bit down these days.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for a decade, in a way.”
She added: “I was 26 when I became a mother. My entire life changed. Having children saved me - and taught me to be in this world differently.
“I think, recently, I would’ve gone under in a much darker way had I not wanted to live for them.”
‘A lot of healing to do’
The Vogue profile makes no mention of Pitt or the marriage, and describes Jolie as a single mother. But Jolie said she reduced her film work in 2016, the year of her divorce, in order to spend more time with her children.
“We had a lot of healing to do. We’re still finding our footing,” she said.
The actress recently gave up her role as an ambassador and special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency.
Her latest project is Atelier Jolie, a “cultural centre-meets-design workshop” in New York, offering tailoring and upcycling services. It includes a café run in partnership with refugee organisations.
Jolie said it presented “an opportunity to start conversations about workforce exploitation, pollution and waste”. Prices for made-to-measure clothes start at $300 (£247) for a slip.
She has also produced a capsule collection for Chloe, the designer label, showcasing the work of artisans from a Fair Trade enterprise.
But the actress said she was not terribly interested in fashion. “There are more books than clothes in my closet,” she said.