Angelina Jolie shocked the world last year when she suddenly split from longtime partner Brad Pitt. Now, the actress is opening up about a previous difficult time in their relationship, which happened to coincide with the filming of their last on-screen work together, "By the Sea."

Jolie wrote and directed the 2015 flick, which centers around an unhappy couple (played by Jolie and Pitt) who retreat to a French resort to try to reconnect. As she explained to The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, she initially thought she and Pitt should act together again -- they first collaborated on 2005's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" -- as a means to better communicate.

"We had met working together and we worked together well," Jolie told Awards Chatter. "I wanted us to do some serious work together, I thought it would be a good way for us to communicate. 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."

Pitt and Jolie were together for 12 years and married for two when Jolie filed for divorce in September 2016, reportedly after an argument between Pitt and the couple's oldest son, Maddox. But apparently things were tense between the couple long before then, something Jolie mused about with Awards Chatter.

The actress said:

"It was something that we were dealing [with]... things happen for different reasons, and things — why did I write that exact piece? Why did we feel that way when we made it? I'm not sure. A piece of art can be something that's healing or something that's difficult."


"I'm glad we did that film because we did explore something together. Whatever it was, maybe it didn't solve certain things, but we did communicate something that needed to be communicated to each other."

Despite those difficulties, Jolie has said in the past that her and Pitt's children are their main priority, and they "will always be a family." She also plans to return to acting soon -- something she hasn't done on-camera since "By the Sea."

[via: Awards Chatter, h/t People]