Ex-bodyguard and 27-year veteran of the British Army’s air service Mark Billingham say protecting Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was his most difficult assignment.
Billingham, who served as the couple’s head of security for 18 months, spoke out about the extreme precautions they took to safeguard their children and preserve their public image in an interview with The Sun in 2016.
The Trust of Protective Parents
Billingham became quite close with Pitt and Jolie’s six children (Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox, and Vivienne) during his time as head of security for the family. He stresses how cautious the couple was about letting strangers approach their kids.
“Angie and Brad are very worried about who goes near their children,” Billingham says. We hit it off right away, and they quickly put their faith in me to care for the kids. He became like a father to the Jolie-Pitt kids since he lived with them and did things with them like go swimming.
Stalkers and the Relentless Pursuit
Keeping the family safe from potential stalkers was an ongoing problem. Billingham remembers a day when Jolie was shooting in a throng and a guy became very agitated.
A few days later, the same guy came up to the family’s car with several autographed photographs. Billingham saw the danger and stepped in to stop Jolie from getting out of the car.
Jolie’s hotel is where the stalker was eventually caught. He had been stalking Jolie all across the United States, as shown by his trail of footprints.
Upholding the Public Image
Billingham was also responsible for preserving the family’s good name in the eyes of the public. In case of accidents or wrinkles, he had to bring the family a change of clothing.
Billingham says, “I had to make sure their image was protected, that they were dressed properly and that they were not doing silly things that could be caught on camera.”
Billingham calls Jolie the “tough one” in the relationship, and he speculates that her preparation for parts like Tomb Raider helped her deal with the difficulties he faced. Pitt, on the other hand, struggled more than he expected to deal with the rigors of his Special Air Service training.
Despite their fame, Billingham was baffled when the couple would ask him for simple things like directions to a pub, revealing how removed they were from normal life because of their unusual circumstances.
Sacrifices and the Breaking Point
Billingham’s deep bond with the family and the kids couldn’t save him from the stress of his profession. Billingham says, “I never had a private life.” This is because he was often away from his own family for long periods of time.
There was no energy left in me. My own personal family life became a pointless tangent. Realizing the position was all-consuming after just 17 months, he took the tough choice to split the company with Pitt and Jolie.
Shocking Divorce and Troubling Allegations
Jolie unexpectedly filed for divorce from Pitt in 2016, allegedly due to an argument aboard a private plane.
Jolie said in court filings that Pitt grabbed her by the head, shook her, and was abusive to their children.
Pitt, though, strenuously rejected the claims and was exonerated after a comprehensive inquiry.