He's in a Brad spot

Weeping along the driveway and into the portals of the old money splendour of the Hotel Bel-Air, a blacked-out limousine is met by a bellboy standing to attention. As its back doors are flung open, it disgorges not another contingent of the hotel's usual chic clientele,

bradbut a motley and ragtag collection of humanity. Tumbling out come a small boy sporting a rock 'n' roll T-shirt and Mohican haircut, a tiny Afro-haired girl and their particularly grungy-looking nanny.

Finally, accompanied by a hulking bodyguard and cradling a baby, appears a stooping and deathly pale woman whose mass of unkempt hair merely adds to the impression that her head is too big for her fragile body.

For Angelina Jolie and her cosmopolitan brood, the unscheduled stay in this private oasis of tranquillity tucked away from sprawling Los Angeles will offer a respite from her increasingly troubled existence. The party does not, however, include Brad Pitt — her actor lover of more than a year and father of their three-month-old daughter Shiloh Nouvel.

The 31-year-old actress has checked in at the last minute following another in what has become a series of all-too-frequent rows with her heart-throb boyfriend. Pitt, meanwhile, remains alone in the sprawling £5 million Malibu mansion that has so recently become their home.

Hardly surprising, then, that his beloved grandmother has now come out publicly to say that the wedding Hollywood has been expecting is not likely to happen any time soon. Or, for that matter, that the chattering tables of Beverly Hills are abuzz with rumours that the relationship may not see out the year.

The pillow-lipped Angelina is said to be buckling under the pressure of postnatal depression, the fact that her mother is battling a serious illness — and the relentless attention of being one half of Hollywood's most celebrated golden couple.

As a result, Angelina is said by friends to be desperate to quit Hollywood for good to set up a nomadic existence travelling Africa.

angelinaAll of which has put her distinctly at odds with Pitt, who wants to bring up their young family in California. As has her latest public pronouncement that she intends to add immediately to their family of adoptive children (they already have a five-year-old Cambodian-born son, Maddox, and three-year- old Ethiopian orphan daughter, Zahara).

Pitt, of course, could be forgiven for thinking that this circus is not the ideal environment in which to bring yet another child, not to mention the Russian, South American and Asian children she has set her heart on taking on. But then as 42-year-old Brad is discovering, life on Planet Jolie is proving far more than he bargained for. For all her beauty and fame, she remains undeniably weird.

Witness, for example, her mission to add to what is fast becoming the United Colours Of Brangelina. Last month, the Tomb Raider actress went on CNN to announce her plans to adopt as many children as possible from around the world to join her multi-cultural menagerie. Her children, she declared, would be 'citizens of the world', all able to speak several languages.

The problem, say friends, is that she neglected to discuss her plans with her husband-to-be before making her very public pronouncement. Pitt was said by those close to them to be 'flipping out' over her outburst.

Not least because for all her attempts to turn her lover into an international statesman and humanitarian — he has trailed puppy-dog-like around the world after her in her role as an ambassador for the UN High Commission for Refugees — Brad remains at heart an unreconstructed 'himbo'.

By way of illustrating the point, friends have said this week that at the same time as she was announcing her attempts to solve single-handedly the issue of the world's orphan population, Brad was eagerly choosing colours for his two new Ducati motorbikes.

Nor has she taken kindly to his attempts to get her to spend more time at home with their new family (Brad has completed the formal adoption of her two older children).

This week friends revealed that Angelina is insisting it was she who put their wedding on hold because she is angry that he wants her to play the 'little wife'.

As if to assert her independence, she immediately announced she is taking the children on a private trip to Namibia, where Shiloh was born in May. Brad, it seems, is not invited.

At the same time, she has signed up to appear in the ultra-violent Sin City II and later this month begins filming the role of the wife of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in A Mighty Heart. It is a role Pitt, whose production company Plan B owns the rights to the story, had earmarked for first wife Jennifer Aniston, from whom he was divorced last October.

Movie insiders say Miss Jolie insisted that she be given the part of Mariane Pearl — which is already being tipped as potential Oscar-winning material. It is a move that has served only to deepen the hostilities between the two actresses.

Indeed, it is the spectre of the former Friends star that is one of the reasons for the tensions in the relationship between Brad and Angelina, say friends.

Angelina was said to be furious last month when she discovered that her lover had been making phone calls to his ex-wife (although it should be stated in his defence that they were about the production company he and Jen used to run together).

At the same time the actress, who met Pitt on the set of Troy in 2004, is having to deal with the upset of the battle with cancer of her French-born actress mother, Marcheline Bertrand. None of which can be helping things with Pitt.

Indeed, some reports in Hollywood have gone as far as claiming Angelina and Brad are now regularly sleeping in separate bedrooms in the modernist beachside home they bought earlier this year. Whatever the truth, it is, perhaps, less than surprising that their relationship has been tested of late.

Their most recent row came two weeks ago when the couple are said to have fallen out over her insistence that she retains her independence.

According to Hollywood sources, Angelina walked out of the Malibu house and checked into the exclusive Bel-Air for four days.

As Brad began filming Ocean's Thirteen with his friend George Clooney, she and the children were holed up in a £1,900-a-night suite which she left only to take flying lessons at Santa Monica airport.

A friend said: 'It was her way of telling him he had no right to tell her what to do while he's off making a movie. She's not going to be dictated to.' Her tactics certainly paid off. While a worried Brad negotiated with his lover to come back home, he was spotted buying 'his and hers' Rolex watches in a Beverly Hills jeweller by way of appeasement.

When she finally returned, Brad took her for an intimate reunion dinner in the art deco confines of the stylish and fearsomely hip Dakota restaurant at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel. There she was overheard by fellow diners suggesting they be spontaneous and spend the night.

Later the couple were shown to a £3,700-a-night duplex penthouse suite via a service elevator. All very romantic, but not enough, say friends, to quell the nagging doubts among those close to them that the couple won't be able to resolve their problems.

With three marriages between them the odds are not stacked in their favour.

Nor, if history is anything to go by, is Angelina's strange temperament going to help. Indeed, she was released from the mental unit of a Los Angeles hospital shortly before her wedding to Thornton in 2000.

Two years later her estranged father, Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, went on a U.S. network television talk show to beg his daughter to seek psychological treatment for what he described as 'serious symptoms of real problems'.

That relationship, too, has been a source of friction between the couple after Brad attempted to broker a reconciliation between his girlfriend and her warring father by sending Voight photos of his new granddaughter.

When she discovered their contact, an angry Angelina is said to have warned Pitt to stop meddling. That dispute comes on top of a series of fallings-out between the lovers that have characterised their relationship in recent months.

They are said to have squabbled constantly when she insisted they rent a depressing flat in a faceless Paris tower block in the run-up to Shiloh's birth.

Angelina is also known to disapprove of Brad's refusal to give up smoking, though she has curbed his party lifestyle. Indeed, this week the actor has even been taking Maddox and Zahara to the Warner Bros studio creche in Los Angeles as he films the latest instalment of the heist movie series.

However, friends say it is Jolie's determination that she does not want her (ever-increasing) family to be brought up in the shallow world of Hollywood that is the major source of conflict.

She has already bought a holiday home in — where else? — the Cambodian jungle, on land once occupied by the brutal Khmer Rouge army (so far, she has found 48 landmines in the garden).

Not content with that, she has become a proficient pilot and is telling friends she wants to fly herself and her band of adoptive children around the Third World distributing aid like an airborne Mother Teresa. She has also persuaded Brad to start taking flying lessons.

While she has, of course, met no resistance in convincing Pitt to get behind the controls of the ultimate in boy toys, she has encountered less success in her goal of turning him from female eye-candy into what she calls an 'international spiritual figure'.

A colleague who was befriended by Miss Jolie when they worked together on Tomb Raider at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire revealed: 'Having spoken to her, I just feel that Angelina is living like a caged animal.

'She and Brad are watched like circus freaks almost 24 hours a day, and I can't see how anyone can carry on like that. She wants something more than that sort of life and who can blame her?

'My concern is that she thinks Brad is completely on the same page and wants the same things, and I don't think he does. There's no doubt he is in love with her, but she carries a lot of baggage.

'She is most definitely not normal and that's one of the appealing things about her, but I think it takes someone pretty special as a partner to be able to deal with that. I think she just wants to run away.'

Hardly surprising, then, that the beautiful Miss Jolie has been seeking sanctuary from fame — and her handsome boyfriend.

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