Angelina Jolie’s life was forever changed when she adopted her first son, Maddox, from Cambodia on March 10, 2002. Previously, the actress had been known for her wild side after making headlines for risky, and sometimes strange behaviour (remember the vial of blood around her neck? Right).
But everything changed for Angelina once she became a mother to her son. She subsequently transformed her party-hard image into that of a caring mother and compassionate humanitarian. Maddox inspired her to adopt two more times after that before welcoming three biological children with her longtime partner, Brad Pitt.
Angelina’s oldest son is all grown up, as he’s now 17 and getting ready to head off to college. But despite living most of his life in the spotlight, there’s still not much known about this celebrity child. Read on to learn what Angelina likes to keep on the down-low about her eldest son.
20 Billy Bob Thornton Was Almost His Dad
Unlike Angelina Jolie’s other children, Maddox was not adopted by Brad Pitt initially, as the couple didn’t become involved until after she had already adopted her son. In fact, the actress was in a different relationship when she first met Maddox, which means he almost had a different dad.
Angelina was infamously married to Billy Bob Thornton for a brief time in the early 2000s. She first met Maddox in March 2002 when he was 7-months old, while she was still married to Billy. However, behind the scenes things were crumbling in Angelina and Billy’s relationship. Their relationship didn’t survive the adoption process and, though they announced Maddox’s adoption together, they publicly separated three months later.
19 Angelina Was Almost Banned From Adopting Him
Like many international adoptions, Angelina’s went anything but smoothly when she was applying to take Maddox back to America. Maddox’s adoption process was initially halted when the US government immediately stopped all adoptions from Cambodia over concern that the children had been trafficked.
The adoption agent assigned to his case, Lauryn Galindo, was actually convicted of visa fraud and money laundering. She was sentenced to 18 months in jail for reportedly falsifying the information of Cambodian children to help her US clients who were adopting, as UPI reports.
In the end, Maddox’s adoption was luckily approved. “I prefer to stay on the right side of the law. I would never take a child away from a place where adoption is illegal,” Angelina has said, as The Daily Mail reports.
18 Maddox Confronted Brad On Their Private Plane
After reports began surfacing of Brangelina’s demise, details about an altercation between Brad and their eldest son began surfacing. The two allegedly had a confrontation while flying in the family’s private jet after Maddox had come to his mother’s defence.
A source told Us Weekly that Brad had been “drinking heavily” during the flight, to which Angelina asked him to stop. When he refused, the two got into a heated argument which “got physical.” That’s when Maddox reportedly stepped in to try and diffuse the situation. The insider added that Angelina arranged for separate cars to take her and the kids to their hotel when the plane landed.
17 The Court Ruled That Maddox Doesn’t Have To See Brad
Fans were curious to know what sort of custody arrangement Brad and Angelina would agree to concerning their eight children. Brad adopted Maddox in 2006, as Made For Mums reports. Last June, Brad and Ange finally reached a settlement in court, which ensures Brad will regularly see his kids - with the exception of Maddox.
A source said that the court determined it’s “critical” the seven younger children have a “healthy and strong relationship with their father,” as USA Today reports. Maddox wasn’t included in the ruling because the court found him old enough to decide if and how much he wants to see his dad.
So far, there’s been no word on whether Maddox is making an effort to see his dad or whether things are still rocky between the two.
16 Maddox Refused To See His Dad Post-Divorce
Even though the court affirmed that Maddox can’t be forced to see his father, many fans were hoping the teen still had a relationship with Brad post-divorce. But, at least at the beginning, it sounds like the teen was resistant to see his dad.
Back in 2016, an insider said the teen decided to stay with Angelina rather than go with his siblings for a scheduled visit with Brad. “He chose not to go and stayed with Angie,” they told Us Weekly. “Maddox never wants to see Brad again,” a different source added.
15 He Didn’t Invite Brad To His Sweet 16
One thing Angelina and Brad definitely try to keep on the down-low is this little snippet of drama from Maddox’s 16th birthday when the teen chose not to invite his father to the celebration in 2017.
“Angelina is planning a big sweet sixteen party for Maddox this weekend and Brad is disappointed he is not invited to attend,” a source explained to Hollywood Life. “Brad is upset that he will miss out on this first big milestone event since the divorce. He is doing his best to work around Angelina’s wishes for the children, but this is one instance where Brad is really hurt.”
That would be one tough milestone to miss!
14 He Almost Starred In A Movie
We’re expecting at least one of Brangelina’s kids to follow in their footsteps and become an actor. That almost happened in 2013 when sources said Maddox was under consideration for a leading role in a movie.
An insider told Radar Online that producers were considering the then-13-year old for a role in Battling Boy, but that his parents weren’t too sure. “Maddox would be amazing in the part, but Brad is wary of going ‘all Will Smith with his kids,’” they explained.
In the end, the role went to someone else and Maddox has yet to star in a feature film. He did, however, have an uncredited role as a zombie in his dad’s flick World War Z, and was an executive producer on his mom’s film First They Killed My Father.
13 He’s Helping Raise His Younger Siblings
With eight kids in the house and a full-time career, it’s a wonder how Angelina does it. But sources say that her eldest son is a huge help when it comes to his younger siblings, so it sounds like she definitely has a hand in the child-rearing department.
“Maddox has gone above and beyond to help out with the younger kids,” an insider said, as IB Times reports. “He has Angelina’s blessing to do the teenage thing and take off with his friends but instead he sticks around to be with her and his brothers and sisters.”
They added, “It’s amazing how selfless he is, he definitely isn’t the average teenager. He’s one of Angeline’s greatest sources of pride and strength, she lights up whenever she talks about him.”
12 He Refused To Spend Christmas With Brad
The holidays sound like they were hard for Brad, as media outlets reported the actor spent Christmas with only four of his six children, as his eldest sons refused to attend.
“Maddox refused to go, and Pax didn’t go either,” an insider explained, as Metro reports. “[He] has never spoiled the kids for their birthdays or holidays. It wasn’t over the top but low-key.”
While it sounds like Brad wasn’t upset at his sons for their decision, he was frustrated with his ex-wife. “Brad is disappointed in how much Angelina has changed since their split,” a different source told Hollywood Life. “Brad is saddened that his ex constantly trots the kids out in public to make it look like she is an amazing mother.
11 He May Have Influenced His Siblings’ Opinions Of Brad
Maddox always seemed firmly on his mother’s side during the divorce drama, and some media outlets suggested this could be negatively influencing his siblings’ opinions towards their dad.
“Maddox may definitely influence the other children, but he still has a right to his feelings to do what he needs to do to feel some sense of safety and comfort in his own life,” Dr. Deborah Sweet, a family therapist, explained to Hollywood Life.
“This does not have to ruin the relationship between Brad and Maddox and likely is just a phase. But there must be repair in the relationship,” she added.
10 He Wants To Go To School In Korea
It feels like just yesterday Angelina was making headlines for adopting her first child. But Maddox is already almost all grown up. He's already started looking at colleges, and reports say he’s considering moving far away from home.
A source close to the family told Access Online that Maddox is looking into attending Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, saying, “Angelina and Maddox spent the past weekend viewing Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. Maddox is interested in studying in the country."
9 But Angelina Doesn’t Want Him To Go To College
With news that Maddox is considering colleges abroad, fans can only wonder how his parents are feeling about this. Sources say that Angelina is feeling conflicted about her eldest child leaving the nest and she wishes he didn’t have to go at all.
“It’s a bittersweet time for Angelina right now,” a source told Hollywood Life. “She’s so proud of Maddox becoming this independent and smart young man who’s going off to make his mark on the world, but at the same time she is going to miss him so much.” They added, “She can’t help wishing she had just a couple of more years with Maddox before he went off to do his own thing.”
8 He Says His Mother Is A "Wonder"
Maddox might only be 17, but it sounds like he already has an impressive resume. In 2016, he had the opportunity to work alongside his mother First They Killed My Father, which she was directing. The movie is based on a memoir written by a survivor of the 1970s Cambodian genocide.
The movie was shot in Cambodia, so it seems fitting that Maddox joined his mother on set given this is from where he was adopted. The teen reportedly helped "wherever he could," as E! News reports.
When asked what it was like working with his mother, Maddox said, "[She's] fun, funny, and easy to work with. She's a wonder."
7 He Babysits Instead Of Attending Red Carpet Events
While most celebrity children seem like they can’t wait to strut on the red carpet, Maddox seems content chilling at home with his younger siblings.
When Angelina attended the 2018 Golden Globes with her second eldest son, Pax, fans were surprised that she didn’t bring Maddox along. But according to sources, the teen volunteered to stay home to take care of his younger sister Shiloh, who’d recently broken her collarbone.
“Maddox has taken on the role of caretaker in the family, and […] he’s not a huge fan of awards shows and the red carpet, so he preferred to stay home and look after his little sister Shiloh,” the source told Hollywood Life.
6 The Divorce Made Him Closer To Angelina
We wonder how Brad feels about this!
Given how rocky Maddox and Brad’s relationship sounded after the plane altercation, it’s no surprise to hear that the teen feels closer to his mom right now. But we imagine it must still be difficult for his dad.
“Angelina’s relationship with Maddox has never been stronger,” a source said, as IB Times reports. “They’ve always had a special connection but since the divorce, their bond has only strengthened. They really rely on each other. He’s always been wise beyond his years but since her split with Brad, he’s proven his maturity and wisdom is much greater than that of the average 17-year-old.”
5 But He's Slowly Trying To Work On His Relationship With Brad
Fans have wondered how things are going between Brad and his eldest son Maddox ever since their 2016 plane fiasco. While the actor has yet to publicly comment on his relationship with his children, a source said that things have been getting better between him and his oldest sons.
“Brad’s relationship with the two older boys has improved significantly since the split,” the insider shared, as Metro reports. “While things are not perfect, they are all getting along well and the boys and Brad are in a good place.” At least they're seeing each other now.
4 He Already Knows How To Fly A Plane
Not many teenagers can say they know how to fly a plane, but Maddox isn’t your average teenager! Back in 2011, The Daily Mail reported that the then-10-year old had already started taking flying lessons.
Angelina actually got her pilot’s license in 2005 (because what can’t this woman do), so we’re suspecting that her passion for flying motivated her son to give it a try. In 2012, Maddox took a trip with his mom when she flew around England, which would definitely be great inspiration.
The minimum age to get a pilot’s license is 17. So if Maddox stuck with his hobby, he could definitely have his pilot’s license by now!
3 Angelina's Charity Is Named After Him
When Angelina adopted Maddox, the actress bought property- 60,000 hectares to be exact- in his native Cambodia. She subsequently turned the land into a wildlife reservation and named it the Maddox Jolie Project, as Creation Is Love reports. The actress was awarded Cambodian citizenship in 2005 for her efforts.
Angelina continued to expand the charity afterwards, later naming it the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP). Notably, MJP created Asia’s first Millennium Village. The home on the original piece of property she purchased in Cambodia now serves as headquarters for the foundation.
We have a feeling Maddox is one day going to be heading the organization himself!
2 He’s Been The ‘Man Of The House’ Post-Divorce
Since Brad and Angelina divorced, it sounds like Maddox has taken on a larger role in the family. A source told Hollywood Life that he was super supportive of his mom following the split.
“He’s really stepped up as the man of the house,” they explained. Madd is Angie’s cheerleader and chief protector, and he rallies the troops whenever she’s feeling down or blue." They continued, “The bond between Madd and Angie is amazing, so strong and unbreakable…he would literally do anything for his mom.”
Angelina has spoken about how wise and mature her eldest son is, so it doesn’t seem out of character that Maddox would step up when his family needed him the most.
1 He Already Hates The Hollywood Lifestyle
Most kids would tell you they’d love to have famous, wealthy parents, but it sounds like Maddox isn’t so fond of everything that comes with life in Hollywood.
“Maddox views life much more seriously than Pax, and already has a great passion for philanthropy and human rights,” a source told Hollywood Life, comparing Maddox to his younger brother. “He finds the glamour and glitz of Hollywood a little distasteful.”
We’re sure we’d get sick of the spotlight if we grew up with cameras in our faces, too!