Angelina Jolie has gotten emotional while addressing her high-profile breakup with Brad Pitt for the first time.

In an interview with the BBC, the 41-year-old actress and director was questioned on the well-publicised incident that prompted her to file for divorce from her partner of 12 years.

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Within the context of her new film, First They Killed My Father, the reporter asked Jolie: "Your film is about family and loss. I understand this is a very sensitive issue.

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"We know that an incident occurred which led to your separation - we also know you haven't said anything about this - but would you like to say something?"

While Jolie was cagey, she did confirm the severity of the 'incident'.

"I don't want to say very much about [the incident] except to say that it was a very difficult time and we are a family," she said, with tears in her eyes.

"And we'll always be a family. And we'll get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it."

When pressed on how she was coping, Jolie replied: "Many people find themselves in this situation, and we've all been through a difficult time. My focus is my children, our children, and finding the way through. That's how I'm coping - with finding a way through to make sure this somehow makes us stronger, closer."

In November, Pitt was cleared after a probe into allegations he mistreated one of his children in a midair altercation.

The claims centred on an alleged incident with his 15-year-old son Maddox in September on a flight from France to Los Angeles. It's believed Jolie alleged he had struck the boy.

"In response to allegations made following a flight ... carrying Mr Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI has conducted a review of the circumstances and will not pursue further investigation," the agency said in a statement. "No charges have been filed in this matter."

Jolie, 41, filed for divorce in September, citing irreconcilable differences. She is seeking sole custody of their six children.