Angelina Jolie reportedly warned her ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton that she was undergoing a double mastectomy before the actress went public with the news.
The actors married in 2000, but divorced three years later.
On May 14, Jolie published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "My Medical Choice" detailing her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy. The procedure, which occurred in February, was an effort to reduce her chances of developing ovarian cancer- the disease that killed her mother.
However, before she shared the news with the rest of the world, Thornton said his ex-wife first considered his feelings.
"I knew it before the public knew," the 57-year-old actor explained while speaking to Life & Style.
"She wanted me to know so that I wouldn't freak out," he added. "When you're great friends with somebody like that … you don't want to hear it on the news."
The actor also noted Jolie's charitable reputation.
"She makes you a better person," said Thornton, according to Life & Style. "She's an amazing person and makes you the best that you can be."
Jolie, who just celebrated her 38th birthday on June 4, has been spotted back on the red carpet alongside longtime partner Brad Pitt following her double mastectomy.
The Jolie-Pitts share six children, who Jolie largely credited with her decision to undergo the double mastectomy.
"They know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can," the actress said of her family in the op-ed piece.
The "Tomb Raider" star also cited her "faulty" BRCA1 gene and the 87 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer. By removing her breasts, the Oscar Award-winner was able to greatly diminish her chances of developing the disease.
Furthermore, "My Medical Choice, revealed intimate details as well as the many reasons behind her decision to remove both breasts.
"I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," penned the actress.
Consequently, Jolie received widespread applause for sharing her experience, and among those singing praises was her partner Pitt, who called her "heroic" for sharing the story.
"All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children," the actor told The Evening Standard after Jolie's op-ed piece made waves. "This is a happy day for our family."
Filmmaker and humanitarian Nicholas Kristof was also among the thousands praising Jolie.
"Angelina Jolie showed again that she is the gold standard for celebrity activism: She started a conversation that'll save lives," the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner posted to Twitter.