As far as celebrity kids go, few are more fascinating that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s brood: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox. Despite their parents’ efforts to shield them from the press, they’ve grown up in the public eye.
Like every family, they’ve had good times and bad, with Jolie and Pitt’s split and subsequent custody battle a particular low point. But the once-warring couple seems to have reached a place of peace and are committed to healthy co-parenting.
Here’s the lowdown on the Jolie-Pitt kids.
Maddox Adopted By Jolie
Born in Cambodia in August 2001, Maddox Chivan was adopted by Jolie in March 2002. At the time, Jolie was married to actor Billy Bob Thornton, but she adopted Maddox as a single parent. He was initially named Maddox Chivan Thornton Jolie, but Thornton was dropped when his mom split from her husband in May 2003. Pitt later adopted Maddox.
Zahara Adopted By Jolie
In July 2005, Jolie adopted 6-month-old Zahara Marley from an Ethiopian orphanage. Pitt traveled with her on the trip to bring Zahara back to the U.S.; he later adopted Zahara. That month’s issue of W magazine featured a lengthy spread called “Domestic Bliss,” consisting of images of the couple taken in March — the same month Jennifer Aniston filed for divorce from Pitt on the grounds of irreconcilable differences after five years of marriage.
In January 2006, a judge granted a request to change Maddox and Zahara’s last names to Jolie-Pitt.
Shiloh Is Born
In May 2006, Jolie and Pitt welcomed their first biological child, Shiloh Nouvel. She was born in the small Cottage Medi-Clinic in Swakopmund, a coastal town in Namibia, and according to the couple’s obstetrician, Pitt was in the operating room the entire time and cut his daughter’s umbilical cord. The new Jolie-Pitt infant was introduced to the world via People and Hello! magazine in multi-million dollar deals. Jolie donated all of the proceeds to the United Nations children’s charity UNICEF.
Pax Adopted By Jolie
Pax Thien was born in November 2003 in Vietnam and adopted by Jolie in March 2007 from a Ho Chi Minh City orphanage. According to Reuters, Jolie filed the papers without Pitt because Vietnamese law does not allow unmarried couples to adopt children, but single individuals can. Pitt applied to adopt Pax when the couple returned to the U.S.
Vivienne And Knox Are Born
Only months after welcoming Pax to their family, Jolie gave birth to twins in Nice, France. Vivienne Marcheline (in honor of Angelina’s mum Marcheline Bertrand, who died in 2007) and Knox Leon arrived in July 2008. Like Shiloh, the newborn babies graced a magazine cover in a deal with Hello! Again, Jolie donated the multi-million dollar earnings to charity, this time to the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which was founded in 2003 as a conservation and community development program in Cambodia’s Samlout Protected Area and is dedicated to alleviating extreme rural poverty.
A Private Family
Shortly after Vivienne and Knox were born, a series of photographs taken by Pitt of Jolie appeared in W magazine — black and white portraits of the entire Jolie-Pitt family, as well as one of Jolie apparently breastfeeding. These glimpses into the family were few and far between, as the A-list parents give few interviews, don’t use social media and rarely make public appearances with their children. However, the couple has often spoken about their kids. Jolie told Vanity Fair in 2010 that she has “a happy home.”
“I got back from work last night, and everybody was playing music and dancing and I suddenly found myself dancing around with a bunch of little fun crazy people,” she revealed.
In April 2012, Pitt’s manager Cynthia Pett-Dante confirmed that the couple was engaged, saying, “It is a promise for the future and their kids are very happy. There’s no date set at this time.”
Pitt had previously said that they were “getting a lot of pressure from the kids” to marry. Jolie’s engagement ring was designed by Robert Procop, with input from Pitt himself.
Jolie Has Surgery
In May 2013, Jolie revealed that she had been through a preventative double mastectomy. In an op-ed for The New York Times called “My Medical Choice,” Jolie revealed that she made the decision after finding out she carried the BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Jolie’s mother lived with cancer for almost a decade and died at 56.
“She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms,” wrote Jolie. “But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.”
Jolie And Pitt Get Married
In August 2014, 10 years after they met on the set of the spy thriller “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Pitt and Jolie tied the knot. They did it privately at their Chateau Miraval in France, with all of their six children involved in the ceremony.
Maddox and Pax reportedly walked Jolie down the aisle, Zahara and Vivienne were flower girls, and Shiloh and Knox were ring bearers. Jolie wore an Atelier Versace gown that showed off her tattoos inspired by her family (six sets of geographical coordinates on her upper left arm showing the birthplaces of all her children), and her veil featured designs from her kids’ colorful drawings embroidered into the fabric.
On Screen Together
A few months after their marriage, Jolie and Pitt starred in their second movie together, “By The Sea,” which was directed by Jolie. Jolie later said she thought working on the film together would help their relationship. She told The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg during THR’s podcast, Awards Chatter, that she wanted them to “do some serious work together.”
“I thought it would be a good way for us to communicate,” she said. “In some ways it was, and in some ways we learned some things. But there was a heaviness, probably, during that situation that carried on, and it wasn’t because of the film.”
More Surgery For Jolie
Jolie’s health issues were far from over. In March 2015, she revealed — in another New York Times op-ed called “Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery” — that she had had her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed, which puts a woman into forced menopause. She took this preventative step after an annual blood test showed markers that could be “a sign of early cancer.”
“It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer,” she wrote. “I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer.'”
Celebrating With Mom
In 2015, Shiloh and Zahara were Jolie’s VIP guests at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and were delighted when their mom won the award for Best Villian. Taking to the stage to accept her award, Jolie gave an empowering speech, telling the young audience that she never fit in as a child.
“When I was little, like Maleficent, I was told that I was different, and I felt out of place,” she said. “And too loud, too full of fire, never good at sitting still, never good at fitting in, and then one day I realized something… Something I hope you all realize… Different is good!”
Rumors about Shiloh’s gender identity have been circulating for years — she favors pants, shirts and suits over skirts and dresses, and Jolie told Vanity Fair in 2010, “She wants to be a boy. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.”
Pitt and Jolie have always supported Shiloh’s choices. Back in 2008, when Shiloh was only 2 years old, Pitt told Oprah Winfrey that his daughter said she wanted to be called John.
“She only wants to be called John. John or Peter. So, it’s a Peter Pan thing,” he said. “So, we’ve got to call her John. ‘Shi, do you want…’ – ‘John. I’m John.’ And then I’ll say, ‘John, would you like some orange juice?’ And she goes, ‘No!’ So, you know, it’s just that kind of stuff that’s cute to parents, and it’s probably really obnoxious to other people.”
In 2010, Jolie gave Vanity Fair an insight into her children’s personalities, saying, “Mad’s a real intellectual, which I can take no credit for genetically. He’s great at school, great at history. He feels like he could be a writer or travel the world and learn about places and things. Zahara’s got an extraordinary voice and is just so elegant and well spoken. Shiloh’s hysterically funny, one of the goofiest, most playful people you’ll ever meet. Knox and Viv are classic boy and girl. She’s really female. And he’s really a little dude.”
Following In Mom And Dad’s Footsteps
All of the Jolie-Pitt kids have taken their own tentative steps into the world of acting. Pax, Zahara, Shiloh and Knox contributed to “Kung Fu Panda 3,” providing voices for some of the minor characters. Vivienne shared the screen with her actress mom in “Maleficent,” playing Aurora, the child cursed by Jolie’s formidable character. Jolie revealed that the only reason she cast Vivienne in the role was that every other tot actor was too terrified to be able to act against her in costume.
Maddox Gets On Both Sides Of The Camera
Maddox has worked with both his parents on movie projects. He teamed up with Pitt in the zombie thriller flick “World War Z,” playing a zombie who eventually meets a grueling fate. He also contributed to the critically acclaimed, award-winning film about the Khmer Rouge genocide, “First They Killed My Father,” alongside Jolie, but this time he was on the other side of the camera, serving as a production assistant. Pax also got involved, working as a set photographer.
Jolie Files For Divorce
In September 2016, following months of media speculation and rumors of fights and infidelity, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt with the Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. She also petitioned for primary custody of the six children and reportedly requested that a judge grant Pitt visitation rights instead of joint custody.
In a statement, Pitt said, “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”
Only days after Jolie filed for divorce, several media outlets reported that earlier that month, the family flew on their private jet from Nice, France to Los Angeles. Jolie was frustrated by Pitt’s heavy drinking, according to the reports, and it was alleged that Pitt physically hurt their eldest child, Maddox, when he tried to step in between a fight between Jolie and Pitt. Other reports said Jolie separated Pitt from all the children. The incident was investigated by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and the FBI, but both cleared Pitt of all charges in November 2016.
Jolie chose to file a legal document that illuminated many private aspects of the separated couple’s lives, including details about pending agreements between Jolie, Pitt and their children, the kids’ therapy schedules, and Jolie’s request that Pitt undergo mandatory drug testing. Pitt quickly filed to have the court retroactively seal the documents, but this was denied. Several tumultuous months followed; Pitt accused Jolie of trying to manipulate the media, and Jolie hit back with claims that Pitt had failed to meet his child support obligations.
Pitt Stops Drinking
In his first interview since he split from Jolie, Pitt revealed that he had quit drinking and was getting therapy. He told GQ Style that the end of his marriage was a “huge generator for change” and that he was happy to be free from drugs and alcohol, admitting that he was “boozing too much” to deal with his problems. He also said that he and Jolie had decided to abandon the path of “vitriolic hatred” and work together on their issues.
Jolie Continues Her Humanitarian Work
Jolie is known for her humanitarian work, for which she has received many awards, including the 2005 Global Humanitarian Action Award from the United Nations Association of the USA for her activism on behalf of refugee rights and the 2013 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She was made a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency in 2001 and appointed UN Special Envoy in 2012. Jolie continues to draw attention to global issues and make headlines for her work to obtain aid for refugees in places like Cambodia, Darfur and Jordan.
After the split, Jolie had physical custody of the six children and Pitt visited them at his ex-wife’s home. However, a court ruling in June 2018 reportedly ordered Jolie to allow the children to spend more time with Pitt. The new schedule allows the children to travel between Jolie’s home in London and Pitt’s home in Los Angeles and lets Pitt call them on the phone unsupervised. The arrangement excluded Maddox, who at 16 was old enough to decide how he wanted to divide his time between his parents.
Putting The Kids First
In 2017, Jolie told Vanity Fair that she didn’t want her children to worry about her the way she worried about her mother when she was growing up.
“I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them,” she said. “They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”
She also spoke about reconnecting with her father, Jon Voight, after being estranged for many years.
“He’s been very good at understanding they needed their grandfather at this time,” she said. “I had to do a therapy meeting last night and he was just around. He knows kind of the rule — don’t make them play with you. Just be a cool grandpa who’s creative, and hang out and tell stories and read a book in the library.”
Co-Parenting And Compromise
In December 2018, Pitt and Jolie finally reached a custody agreement, Jolie’s attorney Samantha Bley DeJean told E! News on Nov. 30 that the arrangement was “based on the recommendations of the child custody evaluator, [which] eliminates the need for a trial.” She said that the specifics of the custody deal would remain confidential “to protect the best interests of the kids.” Earlier in the court proceedings, an unnamed source said that Jolie was not seeking sole custody of the kids and supported the reconciliation of the children with their father.
Embracing Kids’ Quirks
The Jolie-Pitt kids may lead privileged lives with the eyes of the world following their every move, but their mom doesn’t expect them to be perfect.
“[My kids] all have a good rebellious streak that is wonderful and curious,” she told the BBC. “I don’t want them to be perfectly behaved little people that just say what’s absolutely appropriate because I say so … they have to find themselves.”
She admitted that she has the same problem faced by millions of parents around the world: how to deal with exposure to technology.
“I think, like most parents, we try our best to insert good stuff and we can’t control everything that they’re exposed to, so we try to ask that they will talk to us about anything they saw that bothers them or that they’re concerned about,” she said.
On The Red Carpet
Reports suggest that not all of the Jolie-Pitt kids are comfortable in the limelight. Pax may have been adopted by Jolie when he was just 3 years old, but he has apparently struggled at times with the celebrity lifestyle and tries to avoid being photographed. However, he accompanied his mom to the Golden Globes in 2018, walking the red carpet in a tux. Jolie’s historical thriller, “First They Killed My Father,” was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, and she presented for the Best Actress in a Drama category alongside Isabelle Huppert.
Where The Kids Are Today
Today, Maddox is 17, Pax is 15, Zahara is 14, Shiloh is 12 (she’ll turn 13 in May 2019), and twins Knox and Vivienne are 10. The four youngest kids walked the red carpet March 11 with Jolie for the “Dumbo” premiere in Los Angeles.
While Jolie and Pitt keep their kids lives well under wraps, Zahara and Shiloh have been spotted out in L.A. with a famous friend, “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobbie Brown.
Advice From Mom
Jolie always has wise words for her kids.
According to an interview she gave for the March 2018 issue of Elle magazine, she said she tells her three daughters, “Anyone can put on a dress and makeup. It’s your mind that will define you. What sets you apart is what you are willing to do for others. Find out who you are, what you think, and what you stand for. And fight for others to have those same freedoms … A life of service is worth living.”
“Figure out who you are separate from your family, and the man or woman you’re in a relationship with,” she continued. “Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that’s the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else.”
Both Jolie and Pitt have admitted that their split was difficult for the whole family. Speaking to the BBC in 2017, Jolie said, “It was a very difficult time and we’re a family. And we will always be a family. And we will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it.”
She also told Vanity Fair, “They’ve been very brave. They were very brave… In times they needed to be… They’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing… They’re not healing from divorce. They’re healing from some… from life, from things in life.”
Since their split, Jolie and Pitt have both focused on passion projects. Jolie directed an acclaimed film “First They Killed My Father,” which went to receive nominations for numerous awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film won the Hollywood Foreign Language Film Award at the Hollywood Film Awards, the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award and the ASC Award for Board of Directors.
Pitt’s recent projects have also been well-received by audiences and critics alike. He was a producer on the Netflix film “Okja,” starring Lily Collins and Tilda Swinton. Another movie he produced, the biographical comedy-drama “Vice,” based on the life of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, was nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Academy Awards and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 2019 Golden Globes.