Angelina Jolie’s First Trip to Cambodia Sparked Search for Knowledge
Angelina Jolie credited her first visit to war-torn Cambodia back in 2000 with giving her a new perspective on life and triggering her “search for knowledge.” The actress and director was in her mid-20s when she traveled to the south-east Asian nation to film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. She admits that having to dodge landmines left over from the Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s really opened her eyes to a whole new world she had been oblivious to growing up in Los Angeles.
“When I first came to Cambodia, it changed me,” she told the Associated Press. “It changed my perspective. I realized there was so much about history that I had not been taught in school, and so much about life that I needed to understand, and I was very humbled by it.” Jolie left the country with a new mission to help refugees and raise awareness about their plight. “That trip triggered my realization of how little I knew and the beginning of my search for that knowledge,” she added. She began working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for which she now serves as a Special Envoy. Upon her return to Cambodia to spend time with local schoolchildren, she suddenly felt a strong desire to become a mother, leading her to adopt son Maddox there in 2002. “It’s strange. I never wanted to have a baby,” she laughed. “I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother,” she said. “It was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country somewhere,” she added. Now a mother of six, Brad Pitt’s wife has continued with her humanitarian efforts in Cambodia. She recently returned to the country to shoot her new film, First They Killed My Father, about the Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s. Maddox, 14, has also joined his mom to work behind the scenes, and she is at peace with how her different roles in life have come together for the project. “For me, this is the moment where finally my life is kind of in line, and I feel I’m finally where I should be,” she said. Jolie is planning to host the movie’s premiere in Cambodia later this year, ahead of its release on online streaming site Netflix.