In her first major magazine interview since separating from Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie opens her new Los Feliz home to Vanity Fair writer Evgenia Peretz. After living in a rental for several months with her brood of six children, she's only been in the house four days at the time of the intimate interview. It's sparsely furnished; Peretz notes that a set decorator friend of Jolie had to set up a living room with couches quickly for the occasion.

“I didn’t even know I needed ‘throw pillows,’” Jolie says while examining the set up. “That was always Brad’s thing.”

Jolie's rottweiler, Dusty, then promptly enters the room, wet after a dip in the home's pools, and plops down on one of the new white couches.

Ever since her collective soul-shaking separation from Pitt last September, Jolie has undergone an attempt to be more traditionally domestic. She's trying to improve her cooking skills, find delight in washing the dishes, and is busy coordinating things like doctor's appointments and playdates for her kids. She's been "nesting," as the mommy blogs might put it.

“I’m just wanting to make the proper breakfast and keep the house," she says. "That’s my passion. At the request of my kids, I’m taking cooking classes. As I go to sleep at night, I think, Did I do a great job as a mom or was that an average day?”

She's even finally repaired her notoriously tense relationship with her father, Jon Voight, for the benefit of her kids. “He’s been very good at understanding they needed their grandfather at this time," she adds.

She's aiming for something close to "normal," and she's not putting it in jeopardy by dropping any earth-shattering secrets about her marriage to and divorce from Pitt, though discussion of the subject wasn't off-limits during the interview.

“We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal," she says. “I was very worried about my mother, growing up—a lot. I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think it’s very important to cry in the shower and not in front of them. They need to know that everything’s going to be all right even when you’re not sure it is.”

She is a bit more revealing about her health. After announcing preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in 2013, Jolie also reveals that a further cancer scare lead her to more preventative surgery, including removing her ovaries. She also reveals that she's also been diagnosed with and since overcome Bell’s palsy.

Those health battles and difficult decisions all come back to trying to put her children first.

“I actually feel more of a woman because I feel like I’m being smart about my choices, and I’m putting my family first, and I’m in charge of my life and my health," she says. "I think that’s what makes a woman complete.”

Of course, Jolie has also finished and started promotion on her new film First They Killed My Father, an adaptation of the memoir of one of her closest friends, Loung Ung. The film, which has already screened in Ung's native Cambodia, will premiere in North America at the Toronto International Film Festival before rolling out on Netflix.

Jolie notes that otherwise she has no interest in working on another film in any capacity at the moment. Instead, she's ready to add more adventure (along with humanitarianism) into her life. Indeed, the day after the interview she packed her brood up and took them to Africa to help check in with a project aimed at preventing sexual assault (though, she notes her kids will get to do fun things as well, like sandboarding).

Though, she notes that after "trying for nine months to be really good at just being a homemaker and picking up dog poop and cleaning dishes and reading bedtime stories," she's not ready to give up on the globe-trotting and go full-nesting all together. She notes that her son Knox recently joked to her, "‘Who wants to be normal? We’re not normal. Let’s never be normal.’" She told her son, "Thank you—yes! We’re not normal. Let’s embrace being not normal!”

For more on Jolie's next film, what made her decide to adopt her son Maddox, how the children are handling things, and some stunning portraits shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, check out the full Vanity Fair profile.

Related: Brad Pitt, Hollywood God, Comes Out as Painfully Human

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