By Huw GRIFFITH
Brad Pitt allegedly hit one of his children in the face and choked another during a fight with Angelina Jolie on a private plane, according to court papers filed Tuesday in the United States by his ex-wife.
The former couple, once one of Hollywood’s highest profile pairings, have been embroiled in a lengthy dispute over their marriage, custody of their six children and shared assets, including a French winery.
In papers lodged in a Los Angeles court and widely quoted in US media, Jolie describes a lengthy eruption by Pitt as the couple flew with the children from California to France in September 2016.
“Pitt choked one of the children and struck another in the face,” the papers say, according to The New York Times, adding that he also “grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her.”
At one stage in the fight “he poured beer on Jolie; at another, he poured beer and red wine on the children.”
The confrontation began in the plane’s bathroom when Pitt said Jolie was “too deferential” to the children.
“Pitt grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again before pushing her into the bathroom wall,” the suit says, according to Variety.
“When one of the children verbally defended Jolie, Pitt lunged at his own child and Jolie grabbed him from behind to stop him,” it adds.
“The children rushed in and all bravely tried to protect each other. Before it was over, Pitt choked one of the children and struck another in the face. Some of the children pleaded with Pitt to stop. They were all frightened. Many were crying.”
The “Fight Club” actor, who has for decades been one of cinema’s most bankable stars, was investigated over the claims by federal authorities, who have jurisdiction over US-origin air travel. No charges were ever brought.
Jolie filed for divorce a few days after the flight.
In the ensuing years, the A-listers have clashed over custody of the children — three biological and three adopted — and more recently over the ownership of a luxury French property they bought together.
AFP has reached out to Pitt’s representatives for comment on the latest claims.
– French winery –
Tuesday’s filing by Jolie says negotiations over the sale to Pitt of her stake in Chateau Miraval broke down over his demand she sign “a nondisclosure agreement that would have contractually prohibited her from speaking… about Pitt’s physical and emotional abuse of her and their children.”
It comes after Pitt accused his one-time co-star of breaching his rights when she offloaded her share in the winery to a subsidiary of Stoli Group, which is owned by a Russian-born billionaire.
In papers he filed earlier this year, Pitt said “Jolie sought to inflict harm” on him with the sale, invoking alleged connections between the firm’s owner and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Yuri Shefler has long been an outspoken critic of Putin, and his Stoli Group drinks conglomerate is based in Latvia.
But Jolie’s lawyers said in Tuesday’s filing the sale had only been pursued after talks to sell to Pitt broke down over the non-disclosure clause he was demanding.
A source close to the situation told AFP earlier this year that Jolie decided to sell as she and her children “have not been able to return” to Chateau Miraval, and she had made multiple offers to her ex-husband before signing the deal with Shefler.
Once Tinseltown’s highest-profile couple, Pitt and Jolie first got together after co-starring as married assassins in the 2005 film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time.
The A-listers announced in 2018 they had reached an amicable settlement over their children, but any deal appeared to fall apart quickly.
Last July, Jolie scored a win in their custody battle as the private judge overseeing their divorce and custody matters was disqualified from the case. — Agence France-Presse