Angelina Jolie has hinted that her life may have gone in a totally different and “darker” direction if it wasn’t for her children, going back to her adoption of son Maddox in 2002 through her biological kids with ex-husband Brad Pitt.

“I was 26 when I became a mother,” Angelina, 46, told Vogue in a cover story published on Wednesday, September 27. “My entire life changed,” she said about becoming a mom, adding, “Having children saved me — and taught me to be in this world differently.”

The Oscar winner alluded to how her six children — Maddox, 22, Pax, 19, Zahara, 18, Shiloh, 17, and twins Vivienne and Knox, both 15, helped save her when times got tough.

“I think, recently, I would’ve gone under in a much darker way had I not wanted to live for them,” she told the publication. “They’re better than me, because you want your children to be. Of course, I’m the mother, and hopefully that safe place for them and that stability. But I’m also the one that they laugh at — and I see them taking over so many different aspects of our family.”

Angelina adopted Maddox from a Cambodian orphanage towards the end of her marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, as they divorced in 2003. She went on to adopt Zahara from Ethiopia when she was six months old in 2005, after she began dating Brad, 59. He would go on to legally adopt both kids in 2006.

Angelina and Brad welcomed their first biological child, Shiloh, in May 2006, while adopting Pax at the age of 3 from a Vietnamese orphanage in 2007. The former couple rounded out their family with the births of Vivienne and Knox in July 2008.

Brad and Angelina split in September 2016, two years after marrying at their French château. It was followed by a long and contentious divorce and custody battle and the Salt actress seemed to imply it had taken quite a toll on her.

“I don’t feel like I’ve been myself for a decade, in a way, which I don’t want to get into,” she admitted to the outlet, adding she’s in the process of “transitioning as a person.” Hinting at the toll the divorce took on her family, Angelina added, “We had a lot of healing to do. We’re still finding our footing.”

It’s extremely rare for the humanitarian to open up about her kids and home life. In November 2019, Angelina told Harper’s Bazaar how she wished she could move out of Los Angeles but was tied to raising her children in the city because Brad called it home. “I would love to live abroad and will do so as soon as my children are 18,” she told the magazine. “Right now, I’m having to base where their father chooses to live.”

As three of her children are now adults, Angelina has been calling New York City home ever since the summer of 2023, as she’s launching her own sustainable fashion brand, Atelier Jolie, in the Big Apple. The Wanted star is also producing the Broadway debut of The Outsiders musical, due to open in April 2024.

“Angelina didn’t need Brad’s permission to take Pax and Zahara to NYC because they’re legal adults now,” a source told Life & Style exclusively in July, adding that Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne won’t be too far behind. “It won’t be long before they can make their own decisions about where they want to be,” the insider continued, revealing that the family was staying in NYC during the summer and while on school breaks. “Brad will still get his time with them when they’re in California,” said the source. “It’s a lot of shuffling around, but the Jolie-Pitt clan is used to that.”