Belfast Telegraph

Angelina Jolie took on Cambodian biopic for her son

The star was "very nervous" premiering her movie in front of Cambodian royalty.

Angelina Jolie has credited her eldest son Maddox with pushing her to tackle Cambodia's troubled history in her new movie to help him learn about his birth country.

The actress-turned-director has been a frequent visitor of the country both as a tourist and as a humanitarian since adopting her first child from an orphanage there in 2002.

Her love for Cambodia inspired her to take an interest in making First They Killed My Father, about human rights activist Loung Ung's story of survival during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, and it was important for her to teach Maddox about his country's painful past so he could better understand where he came from.

"This country means a great deal to me; this country has been through so much," she explained on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America. "This war affected every single individual here, and I wanted to understand myself.

"I don't know much of (Maddox's) birth parents, but I believe they would have gone through this war. I wanted to understand his culture in a deeper way, and bring this story to this country in their language. I wanted to tell the story of Loung Ung, who's a dear friend of mine."

However, Angelina admits she only signed on to direct the biopic after having a heart-to-heart discussion with her now 15-year-old boy, who insisted he was "ready" to delve into Cambodia's checkered history, as long as his mother was by his side.

"I talked to Maddox about this film, and about doing it. And it was him, in the final hour, who said he was ready," she shared. "He wanted to understand more, and he wanted me to make it."

Maddox ended up working as a researcher on First They Killed My Father, while his 13-year-old brother Pax, who was adopted from Vietnam, also contributed to the project as a still photographer.

Angelina premiered the movie in Cambodia, in front of the country's royal family, on Saturday (18Feb17), and it was a nerve-wracking affair for the Hollywood superstar.

"I was very, very nervous," she said of the premiere. "It's an honour to be allowed to come into a country which is not your own country, and to tell its history."

The film will be released globally via streaming service Netflix later this year (17).

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