As Angelina Jolie continues to twist the knife in Brad Pitt‘s heart amid their impending divorce, the 53-year-old actor is running back to his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston for support, In Touch has exclusively learned. A year after Angelina, 42, blindsided her husband of two years with divorce papers, the actress got candid with The New York Times, seemingly suggesting that her six children are better off without their father.

“[They’re] the best friends I ever had,” Angelina said of her children Maddox, 16, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 11, and nine-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. “Nobody in my life has ever stood by me more.”

Aside from shading her ex-husband for his lack of support, Angelina also subtly implied that the kids are doing just fine, even without Brad. “None of it’s easy,” she continued. “It’s very, very difficult, a very painful situation, and I just want my family healthy. They’re getting better.”

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Angelina’s public talk of their marriage’s demise and smearing of his parenting skills and reputation is enough to send Brad right into the arms of his ex, 48-year-old Friends star Jen. Though she married fellow actor Justin Theroux in 2015, Brad’s former wife of nearly five years seems willing to be there for her ex-husband.

“[He] wants and needs Jen in his life,” a source tells In Touch exclusively, “especially during this trying time.” Justin, 46, isn’t worried or the least bit threatened of Jen’s friendship with her former beau. “Brad wouldn’t dream of breaking up Jen’s marriage,” the source reveals. “Brad’s leaning on her as a confidante now. His renewed friendship with Jen has been a huge source of support and comfort through the toughest year of his life.”

“Overall, Brad and Jen have a great deal in common,” another source says, “and have reached a level of closeness and understanding that they never thought was possible.”But not everyone is comfortable with Brad and Jen’s newfound kinship. Angelina has reportedly gotten wind of Brad’s new confidante and is none too happy.

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“She’s furious,” a source reveals of Angelina’s reaction. “Jen’s always been Angelina’s greatest rival when it comes to Brad. She hates the way that she has always been depicted as the evil femme fatale and Jen as the girl-next-door victim in the famous love triangle.”

Meanwhile, Jen is allegedly reveling in Angelina’s sour reaction. “She’s getting her well-deserved revenge,” says the source. “Jen feels Angelina lorded her relationship with Brad over her all these years. Jen’s having the last laugh. She loves the fact she has become his confidante.”

Exactly how Brad won over Jen as a friend is no real mystery. Earlier this year, he revealed his excessive binge-drinking to GQ — “I was boozing too much,” he said at the time — and has since decided to quit drinking and issue apologies to all those he wronged. Seeing as Jen “was the person highest on his apology list,” as the source says, he called her last June and offered his sincere regrets.

“Brad flat-out apologized for all the heartache and pain he caused by leaving her for Angelina,” the source continues. “He came off as genuinely sorry and Jen was deeply touched. She was completely won over.”

One more in-depth conversation was all it took to cement their friendship. Brad opened up to Jen about the infamous plane incident last year in which he allegedly got physical with Maddox while intoxicated. He also got candid about the custody battle that’s still ranging on present-day.

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“He soberly spoke about hitting rock bottom,” the source says, “and how he made the climb out. He launched into a grand apology. He apologized for being an absentee husband in the marriage — being stoned and bored much of the time. He also made amends for being an avoider, getting lost and in a serious drinking-and-getting-high phase when he fell for Angelina while making Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

The conversations re-instilled Jen’s faith in Brad’s sensitivity. In 2005, she infamously remarked that Brad was missing “a sensitivity chip.” But it seems with these recent, heart-felt dialogues, his chip has been restored in Jen’s eyes.

“He told Jen they might still even be married if he were emotionally and physically present and sober at the time,” the source says. “It was the most intimate conversation Brad had ever had with Jen.”

The rekindled friendship could even spark some future collaboration. “Brad wants her involved again,” says the source, “and Jen wants in on such prestige projects.”

“Jen has a way of calming and encouraging Brad, which he needs in his hectic life right now,” the source continues. “He’s in a great place mentally and physically. He’s in touch with his emotions and his true self like never before. He is closer to the kids than he has been in months, and he’s shown tremendous maturity and patience with Angelina concerning the divorce.”

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