The Stunning Transformation Of Maddox Jolie-Pitt

The Jolie-Pitts were a household name in the 2000s. How wouldn't they be? The rising superstardom of two celebrities, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, fondly known as Brangelina, was sure to make headlines. After meeting on the set of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," their romance was anything but boring, and more so was their ever-growing family tree.

All in all, they share six children – three adopted and three biological — with Maddox Jolie-Pitt being their eldest son. It's a unique challenge to navigate your childhood with the whole world watching, and even more of a feat to do so gracefully. However, Jolie-Pitt is a prime example of someone able to do just that. There's definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to him. Let's take a look at his stunning transformation throughout the years, from his serendipitous meeting with Jolie as an orphan to his journey to Seoul for higher education.

He was born in Cambodia

Until the early 2000s, Angelina Jolie never saw motherhood on the cards for her, which may come as a surprise since she takes on the role of a mother so well. Cambodia played a big part in Jolie's changed perspective on motherhood. During a visit to a local school as a United Nations goodwill ambassador, she had an epiphany, "my son is in the country, somewhere" (via Entertainment Tonight).

Jolie first laid eyes on Maddox at an orphanage in Battambang, Cambodia. "Maddox — that's the beginning of my family: Mad and I coming together was the beginning of so much," Jolie told the Hollywood Reporter. Prior to her visit to Battambang, she decided that she would only visit one orphanage. After meeting with all the children and not connecting with them, she was told there was one more child left. And that was when she finally saw him, the last child in the orphanage "suspended from the ceiling" who, after being in her arms, woke up and greeted her with a smile (via Vanity Fair).

The "Maleficent" star enthusiastically shared their first encounter on ABC News, "Maddox was the last child I saw. And he was asleep, and they put him in my arms, and he stayed asleep. Then he opened his eyes, and he smiled, and I cried, and I felt like this kid is okay being in my arms, and he accepts me" (via YouTube).

He is the eldest child of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Maddox Jolie-Pitt was in Angelina Jolie's life before Brad Pitt entered the picture. His name went through a couple of changes: His birth name Rath Vibol was later changed to Maddox Chivan Thorton upon his adoption in 2002 (via Vizaca). At the time, Jolie was still wed to Billy Bob Thornton. Shortly after his adoption, however, they ended their marriage. This gave his mother full custody and resulted in the removal of Thornton from his legal name (via The Guardian).

In 2016, a few months after the birth of Jolie and Pitt's first biological child Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, Pitt legally adopted Maddox and his sister Zahara Jolie-Pitt (via People). "They're as much of my blood as any natural born, and I'm theirs. That's all I can say about it. I can't live without them. So: Anyone considering (adoption), that's my vote," Pitt shared with Esquire (via People). With this move came his final name change to Maddox Jolie-Pitt. Maddox, or Mad, in short, means "fortunate" in Welsh, while Chivan is a Khmer word that means "life" (via Us Weekly).

He is well-traveled

It's a unique opportunity to be a 4-year-old with so many stamps on their passport, and Maddox Jolie-Pitt was one of those kids. Whether going on a vacation, a premiere for a new movie, shooting a film, or a humanitarian trip — he wasn't far behind. The A-list couple had no intentions of leaving their children at home, except, of course, if they expressed their intentions not to join (via Vogue).

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were known for being jet-setters, and luckily Jolie-Pitt assimilated quickly into the jet-setter lifestyle he was born into. Jolie said, "I'm very proud when I see my children, Mad, who's four, just how he adjusts to different places in the world and different people and his views and the kind of man he's gonna be" (via Today). Last-minute trips weren't a problem for him or any of his other siblings; Jolie said it might be in part that they "See the world as a home," she continued, "I've seen Mad run through the markets of Addis Ababa [in Ethiopia] and not notice that it's very poor, or that everyone is African or that he's Asian. It wouldn't matter to him" (via W Magazine).

He is Angelina Jolie's 'best buddy'

"When your children are your best friends, it's a nice life," Angelina Jolie shared in an interview with Entertainment Tonight (via YouTube). Maddox Jolie-Pitt is a momma's boy, and Jolie is sure to gush about him at every chance.

In a 2007 interview with MSN, Jolie raved about her close relationship with her son, then age 6, "He's like my best buddy. Just the coolest little person I've ever met" (via People). Jolie-Pitt even jokingly called his mom Angie, "He thinks it's hysterical! He does [still call me mommy] ... but when he's being silly with me, it's Angie," People also reported.

They even shared a fondness for knives. Typical for a child his age, perhaps, but to Jolie, it's something that runs in the family. Jolie bought her first daggers with her mother at 11 or 12 (via W Magazine). For safe measure, she only got her son the knives with dulled blades. With this shared interest came discussions on violence and samurais. "We also talk about samurais and about the idea of defending someone as good. We talk about everything."

He is very close to his siblings

From a very young age, Maddox Jolie-Pit had the makings of a great big brother. On a visit to Ethiopia with his parents, he expressed his love of Africa to Jolie, "He has been asking for an African brother or sister" (via People). Maddox accompanied his mother to the orphanage and noticed a child in particular that needed care. In that same year, Jolie finalized her adoption of Zahara Jolie-Pitt. "Maddox and I are very happy to have a new addition to our family," Jolie added.

It's safe to say that the bond of the Jolie-Pitt siblings has withstood the test of time. "I think they've had a very significant effect on each other," Jolie shared. A prime example came years later when Maddox left for college, and all his siblings rushed to the car to say farewell before he left. Jolie shared this proud moment with Time Magazine "When you know the kids love each other without any prompting ... you feel like they're gonna be okay, they're always gonna have each other" (via Entertainment Tonight).

An incident on a private plane changed the Jolie-Pitt family dynamics

In 2016, 14-year-old Maddox Jolie-Pitt and his father, Brad Pitt, reportedly got into an altercation in front of the whole family (via The New York Times). The actual events that transpired on the plane remain uncertain. At the time, child abuse was ruled out, and the FBI dropped all charges (via People). However, it was still more than enough for Jolie to file for a divorce. She shared with The Guardian, "I'm not the kind of person who makes decisions like the decisions I had to make lightly. It took a lot for me to be in a position where I felt I had to separate from the father of my children."

In an ongoing legal battle for their previously co-owned winery Chateau Miraval, Jolie detailed what she described as Pitt's abusive behavior towards her and their children. According to the countersuit from Jolie, Pitt allegedly choked one child and struck the other in the face (via Vanity Fair).

Five days after said incident, the divorce papers cited irreconcilable differences. This was the beginning of one of the most extended high-profile custody battles. For the most part, Jolie and Pitt have agreed to keep the legal proceedings as civil as possible for the sake of their children.

He had his first stint as executive producer of a movie at the age of 16

It's not every day that a 16-year-old has an executive producer role under their belt. In 2017, Maddox Jolie-Pitt executive produced the Netflix film "First They Killed My Father" directed by his mother, Angelina Jolie (via People). Pax Jolie-Pitt, his younger brother, served as the movie's set photographer. The film is based on the best-selling memoir of Loung Ung, a Cambodian human-rights activist, author, and close friend of Jolie. It follows the story of a child that survived the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.

Tackling this story also offered a one-of-a-kind experience to learn about his nation's history, culture, and people. Jolie-Pitt definitely didn't play a passive role in this process; he was very diligent and hands-on. Jolie shared more about her son's work ethic: "He's very studious, much more than I am ... when we did our notes in the production meetings, his notes were always better than mine" (via YouTube). This experience was a testament to not only an excellent mother-and-son relationship but a productive working relationship to boot. Jolie-Pitt told People, "[Jolie is] fun, funny, and easy to work with."

He can speak multiple languages

Maddox Jolie-Pitt is full of surprises. His mother was shocked to find that he was taking up Russian and German and fluent in French — all at the age of 16 (via People). As per The Hollywood Reporter, he also speaks a little Khmer. Is there anything he can't do? We wouldn't be surprised if he decides to add more to that list down the line.

Maddox, along with the rest of his siblings, was homeschooled. Their roster of teachers was as diverse as the Jolie-Pitt clan, they were of different cultural backgrounds and also spoke multiple languages (via Vogue). In an interview with Vanity Fair, Jolie shared praise for her son: "Mad's a real intellectual, which I can take no credit for genetically. He's great at school and great at history. He feels like he could be a writer or travel the world and learn about places and things."

He is a proud Cambodian

Cambodia holds a special place for Maddox Pitt-Jolie and his mother, Angelina. He is not one to forget his roots. Above all else, what he loves most about his home country is the people, "[They are] calm, relaxed, and when they want to do something wild, they do it — much like me in a way. I'm proud to be a Cambodian" he shared with People. Jolie-Pitt was in his element back home; Jolie told Vogue, "When I see Mad in Cambodia, it's his home. He is a Cambodian man, and at the same time, he is also an American citizen and a global citizen."

Before working on the Netflix title "First They Killed My Father," Jolie-Pitt had already been to Cambodia a couple of times – he was not a stranger to his home country, in that sense. Working on set, however, took this understanding of the country a step further, "It was a way for him to walk in the steps that most likely his birth parents walked," Jolie told Vanity Fair. He even made friends with the children on set, and they had their own sleepovers.

Angelina Jolie immersed Maddox's siblings in his Cambodian heritage

The whole Jolie-Pitt clan joined during the taping of "First They Killed My Father." While Maddox Jolie-Pitt and Pax Jolie-Pitt were working on set, the rest of the siblings were on the sidelines, immersed in the experience in their own way (via The Hollywood Reporter). Bringing the whole family was Jolie's way of exposing each child to their birth country while ensuring their siblings had that same opportunity. "The boys [Maddox and Pax] know they're from Southeast Asia, and they have their food and their music and their friends, and they have a pride particular to them. But I want them to be just as interested in the history of their sisters' countries and Mommy's country, so we don't start dividing," Jolie explained to Vanity Fair.

The siblings have come across people questioning their kinship due to their diversity. This isn't an issue for Angelina Jolie though, who doesn't care much for genetics, according to The Guardian. Openness is a virtue in the Jolie-Pitt household, "'Adoption' and 'orphanage' are positive words in our home," Jolie shared with Vogue India. In Jolie's opinion, diversity is one of their greatest strengths, "I'm so blessed to be able to be a mother to children of different parts of the world and to learn about different cultures through them" (via People). In her eyes, their differences did not divide them; they brought them closer together.

In 2019, he started studying biochemistry in Korea

It's time to add Korean to the number of languages in Maddox Jolie-Pitt's arsenal. In 2019, he began his biochemistry degree at Yonsei University in South Korea. Yonsei University is a prestigious institution regarded as one of the top three universities in the country.

Jolie tried her best to hold back her tears as she dropped off her eldest son at his new campus (via Instagram). She helped him settle into his dorm and accompanied him on a tour of the grounds. Bittersweet as it may be for her to send off her eldest son, she's still looked forward to this chapter of his life. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Jolie shared, "I'm so proud of him. I'm so excited; I feel like my world expands as their world expands ... I love this stage." As she also told the publication, "It might be a bit easier [considering the other children are still at home with her]" (via YouTube).

He had to move back in with his family due to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maddox Jolie-Pitt cut his university experience short or at least traded it in momentarily for online classes. After a semester at Yonsei University, he packed his bags to temporarily move back home (via People). Due to the lockdown, all six children were back together. Since the Jolie-Pitts' were already close as it is, we weren't surprised to find that it wasn't much of an adjustment having their big brother back. In fact, it gave them more time to bond. They kept themselves busy playing a game they made up as a family called "dark tag," Jolie shared, which basically entails playing tag with the lights off. Four months into the pandemic, they got pretty good at it.

Aside from catching up with the family and getting free haircuts from his mom, he also used this time away from campus to catch up on his Korean and Russian lessons, People reported.

He showed his tattoos for the first time in British Vogue

Early on, Maddox Jolie-Pitt exhibited signs of promise both intellectually and as a family-oriented big brother. But don't mistake him for being a goody two-shoes. He still balanced it all out by living life as a teenager should. "He's a balanced teen," Jolie shared with ET Online, "I'm so happy for him that [Maddox has] grown up into such a good man."

Jolie-Pitt had a few surprises up his sleeves, or under his shirt, to be specific. Jolie mentioned that Jolie-Pitt was tattooed in an interview in 2019, but the rest was left to the imagination. That was until the tattoos were finally revealed in a candid photo of Jolie cutting her son's hair on British Vogue. He had not one, but two tattoos: one snake tattoo along his torso and another mid-sized one along his forearm. Aside from their shared love of knives, Jolie's love for body art probably rubbed off on him too.

His relationship with his father Brad Pitt is unclear

The 2016 private plane incident was apparently a pivotal moment in the relationship between Maddox Jolie-Pitt and his father, Brad Pitt. Three years later, a paparazzo approached Maddox Jolie-Pitt while on campus at Yonsei university (via YouTube). He conducted an ambush interview where he asked about the estranged father. "How about your dad? Is he going to come and visit?" Jolie-Pitt responded, "I don't know about that. I don't know what's happening." The paparazzo continued to pry by asking whether or not the relationship was over, to which Jolie-Pitt responded, "Whatever happens, happens."

His composure throughout speaks volumes of how he was raised. A viewer remarked, "No matter what you think about his parents, he's a very polite young man. He handled that interview like a pro. The university should beef up security, so he doesn't have to deal with this kind of foolishness."

It seems that Jolie-Pitt is open to whatever happens moving forward, and he hasn't shut any doors, but we do hope that a reconciliation is in the cards for this estranged pair.