Brad Pitt choked one of his children and hit another across the face during an altercation with Angelina Jolie on a plane that precipitated her filing for divorce in 2016, according to a countersuit she filed in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday.
Jolie is countersuing Pitt in the former couple’s court battle over Château Miraval, the French winery they purchased in 2008. The filing details Pitt’s alleged behavior toward Jolie and their children on the plane ride and accuses him of forcing her to sign a nondisparagement clause as a condition of the sale of her share of the winery.
The September 2016 plane altercation — in which a drunken Pitt allegedly became physical with their then-15-year-old son, Maddox, during a fight with Jolie — is largely regarded to be the incident that led to her abruptly filing for divorce. The filing confirms as much, referring to it as “the day Jolie’s marriage came to an end.”
“Throughout the long, overnight flight, Pitt was physically and emotionally abusive to Jolie and their children, who were then between the ages of 8 and 15,” the filing says.
Pitt has vigorously denied the allegations of violence against Maddox, with his team telling People that “it did not reach the level of physical abuse” and “he did not hit his child in the face in any way.”
According to the countersuit, Pitt began acting aggressively before the private jet took off and had a confrontation with one of their children. After the plane departed, Pitt accused Jolie of being too deferential to their kids and verbally attacked her. He later allegedly pulled Jolie into the bathroom in the back of the plane, yelled at her, grabbed her by the head, shook her, and pushed her into the wall.
He then punched the ceiling of the plane several times, the filing says, and as Jolie exited the bathroom, one of their children asked, “Are you OK, mommy?” to which he yelled “No, mommy’s not OK” before continuing to insult her.
“When one of the children verbally defended Jolie, Pitt lunged at his own child and Jolie grabbed him from behind to stop him,” the document continues. “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.”
The children were frightened and some were crying. According to the document, Jolie and their children sat still and silent, afraid to even go to the bathroom.
“At one point, he poured beer on Jolie; at another, he poured beer and red wine on the children,” her lawyers say in the filing. He later fell asleep.
After the plane landed, Jolie told the kids not to intervene no matter what Pitt does. She woke him up and told him that they were going to a hotel without him, and he screamed and pushed her down, the lawsuit says, and prevented his family from getting off the plane for 20 minutes before relenting.
“But once outside the plane door, Pitt again physically abused one of their children,” the document details. “He also grabbed and shook Jolie by the head and shoulders, causing one of the children to beg, ‘Don’t hurt her.’ He let Jolie go, but then called her a ‘bitch,’ before adding, ‘Fuck you, fuck you all.'”
Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt five days later, on Sept. 19, 2016, and requested sole custody of their children. Pitt then filed for joint custody.
He told the New York Times in 2019 that after Jolie filed for divorce, he spent a year and a half in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Pitt did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Some details of the altercation were previously revealed when news outlets speculated that Jolie was the anonymous plaintiff in a lawsuit against the FBI to obtain information about the agency’s investigation into an alleged domestic violence incident.
At the time, Pitt was investigated for child abuse by the LA County Department of Children and Family Services, as well as the FBI, which has jurisdiction over crimes on aircraft. He was later cleared in the child abuse investigation, and the FBI declined to bring criminal charges.
Pitt sued Jolie in February 2022 for selling her interest in the winery to Tenute del Mondo, a subsidiary of Stoli Group, alleging they had an understanding that one party would not do so without the other’s consent.
His lawsuit accuses her of going after the sale in secret, “knowingly violating” his contractual rights. Both Jolie and Pitt agree that she had initially decided to sell her share of the winery to him, but Pitt alleges she pulled out of their tentative deal after a judge issued a ruling against her in their custody battle, saying she sold to a “stranger” to “inflict harm” on him.
However, Jolie has claimed in her cross-complaint that “no such ‘consent’ agreement exists” between them. Her lawyers detailed the lengths that she purportedly went through to sell her interest in the winery to Pitt, and said that she decided to pursue a different buyer after he demanded that she be “bound by a broad non-disparagement clause that would prohibit Jolie from discussing outside of court any of Pitt’s personal conduct toward her or the family” as part of the agreement.
The inclusion of the nondisparagement clause came after she filed a document under seal labeled “Offer of Proof and Authority re Testimony Regarding Domestic Violence” in their custody case, she alleges. Pitt was “apparently enraged” by the filing, her lawyers say in documents, and subsequently informed her that he was “stepping back” from their tentative deal.
Jolie’s lawyers argue that Pitt’s lawsuit over the winery has given her no choice but to publicly defend herself.
“Jolie has never before publicly explained why she and Pitt reached this point — why they divorced, why she and the children have been unable to return to Chateau Miraval, why she had to sell her interest in Chateau Miraval — and she has gone to great lengths to try to shield their children from reliving the pain Pitt inflicted on the family that day,” the filing says. “But when Pitt filed this lawsuit seeking to reassert control over Jolie’s financial life and compel her to rejoin her ex-husband as a frozen-out business partner, Pitt forced Jolie to publicly defend herself on these issues for the first time.”