Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are facing a dilemma as their three children, particularly Maddox, 5 1/2, grow older.
Should the activist couple expose their children to the ravages of war?
And should Maddox play with toy guns?
“That’s a very tough question,” Jolie admitted Monday. “We can’t shield the world from our children, (though) I certainly think we can shield certain images. We should keep grotesque images away from the children because it could scare them. But it’s a part of the world, and we must show them.”
The topic is relevant for the couple, who made a rare appearance together at the Pacific Design Center for the Los Angeles premiere of a documentary Pitt produced. God Grew Tired of Us, opening Friday in select New York and Los Angeles theaters, follows the travels and challenges of the “lost boys” of Sudan, who were forced to flee their war-ravaged country to escape death and sterilization.
“My son knows about land-mine victims,” said Jolie. “My daughter (Zahara, who turned 2 on Monday) watches things about Darfur. My kids know what’s happening because they’ve seen those parts of the world.”
As for playing with war toys, the former Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith star confessed, “I’m a bad person to ask, because my son’s going to see the films I do, and I can’t tell him not to play with toys. But you teach them good guys and bad guys. You teach them (about) fighting for the right things.”
Pitt, dressed in a black trench coat with the collar up, chimed in that he too played war as a boy, “but I consider myself alright. It didn’t affect me in any way.” Pitt said their homes’ televisions are often tuned to CNN’s war coverage, but, “We have been having this discussion right now exactly about what kind of images we want them to see and what we don’t want them to see. It’s something we’re focusing on.”
The film is narrated by Nicole Kidman, who arrived in Prada. She said her son with ex-husband Tom Cruise, Connor, who turns 12 next week, was intentionally steered away from war games. “I’m not a counselor,” she said, “but with my son, I never let him have a (toy) gun or weapon. But he desperately wanted one.”
Still, she stressed that the fragile state of the world today has not taken away from her desire to have a child with second husband Keith Urban, who is currently in rehab.
“Yes!” she said when asked about her plans for another child, pointing to the documentary’s positive presentation of “a sense of community and hope.”
The event, also attended by Edward Norton, Johnny Knoxville and Roseanne Barr, allowed Kidman her first meeting with the three African stars of the film, Daniel Abul Pach, Panther Bior and Jonn Dau. “They’re shiny, beautiful in spirit, and they’ve accumulated no bitterness,” Kidman said.
Dau said that when he was first told of Kidman’s participation, his response was, “Who is her?”
Kidman immediately connected with Panther over, of all things, fashion. She was tickled by the Valentine-patterned red tie he was wearing. “Panther’s wife sent it to him from Nairobi,” Kidman said. He has not been able to visit his partner, for political and financial reasons, for a year and a half. “He so wants her to join him here,” Kidman said.
The film was also produced by Catherine Keener and Dermot Mulroney (friends of Pitt and former wife Jennifer Aniston), who posed together for photos, but sat in separate rows during the screening.
Mulroney, who declined to discuss his marital status (“let’s not even go there”), said that their son, Clyde, 7, does show an interest in playing war. “There are a couple of toy guns in the house,” he sighed. “Boys want them so badly — it’s tough.”
But he was very proud that “between Catherine and myself and our friends, we were able to get the film over the hump to where its landed now with a national release.” He added that he has immense respect for the “lost boys” and their ability to survive the challenges thrown at them and to create families “with nothing but respect and love.”