“I believe you make your day. You make your life. So much of it is all perception, and this is the form that I built for myself. I have to accept it and work within those compounds, and it’s up to me.”
With chiseled good looks, a strong jawline and bold blue eyes, actor and producer, Brad Pitt is known as much for his versatility as he is for his handsome face. His most widely recognized role may be Tyler Durden in Fight Club (1999), but this Golden Globe-winner portrayals of Billy Beane in Moneyball (2011), and Rusty Ryan in the remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) with its sequels, also loom large in his filmography. Born William Bradley “Brad” Pitt in Shawnee, Oklahoma and raised in Springfield, Missouri where he attended Kickapoo High School and was a member of the golf, swim and tennis teams. Brad was also involved in debating, student government and school musicals. He attended the University of Missouri, where he majored in journalism, with a focus on advertising but left college two credits short of graduating to move to California. He occasionally acted in fraternity shows and before he became a successful actor, Brad supported himself by driving strippers in limos, moving refrigerators and even dressing as a giant chicken while working for “El Pollo Loco.”
Receiving multiple awards and nominations, including an Academy Award as producer under his own company Plan B Entertainment, Brad’s earliest credited roles were in television, starting on the daytime soap opera Another World (1964). He also appeared in the recurring role of Randy on the legendary prime time soap opera Dallas His first feature film role was in The Dark Side of the Sun shot in pre-war Yugoslavia during the summer of 1988. Pitt was paid $1,523 per week for seven weeks. He played a young American taken by his family to the Adriatic Sea to search for a cure for a rare skin disease. As editing neared completion, civil war broke out in the region and much of the footage was lost. In 1996, after a five-year search, all of the lost footage was found and returned to producer Andjelo Arandjelovic.
Following a string of guest appearances on various television series through the 1980s, he gained widespread attention with a small part in Thelma & Louise (1991), in which he played a sexy criminal. But Pitt’s career hit an upswing with his casting in A River Runs Through It (1992), which cemented his status as a multi-layered actor as opposed to just a pretty face. His subsequent projects were as quirky and varied in tone as his performances, ranging from his unforgettably comic cameo as stoner roommate Floyd in True Romance (1993) to romantic roles in such visually lavish films as Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) and Legends of the Fall (1994) to an emotionally tortured detective in the horror-thriller Se7en (1995). His portrayal of frenetic oddball Jeffrey Goines in Twelve Monkeys (1995) won him a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
Brad starred in the cult film Fight Club (1999) and the major international hit Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). His portrayal of Achilles in the big-budget period drama Troy (2004) helped establish his appeal as action star and was closely followed by a co-starring role in the stylish spy-versus-spy flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). It was on this set that Pitt, who married Jennifer Aniston in a highly publicized ceremony in 2000, met Angelina Jolie. His personal life is also the subject of wide publicity. Divorced from actress Jennifer Aniston, to whom he was married for five years, he has been married to actress Angelina Jolie since 2014 until Angelina filed for divorce in September 2016. They have six children together, three of whom were adopted internationally. Brad says, “It really changes your perspective on the world. You know, I’ve had my day. I made some films, and I’ve really had a very fortunate life, and it’s time for me to share that a little bit. Having children takes the focus off yourself, which I’m really grateful for. I’m so tired of thinking about myself. I’m sick of myself. You feel you want to be there and not miss out on anything. It’s a true joy and a very profound love.”
One of his greatest commercial successes have been World War Z (2013) and receiving his second and third Academy Award nominations for his leading performances in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011). Brad continues to wildly vary his film choices, appearing in everything from high-concept popcorn flicks such as Megamind (2010) to adventurous critic-bait like Inglourious Basterds (2009) and The Tree of Life (2011). He produced The Departed (2006) and 12 Years a Slave (2013), both of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The Tree of Life, and The Big Short (2015), both garnered Best Picture nominations and in 2014, he starred in the war film Fury (2014). “Success is a beast. And it actually puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. You get away with more instead of looking within,” he states.
As a public figure, Brad has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry, as well as the world’s most attractive man, by various media outlets. He is constantly involved in various charitable organizations and on the invitation of Virgin CEO Richard Branson, he visited over 100 orphans affected by HIV at a facility run by The Salvation Army in South Africa as well as personally meeting Nelson Mandela and discussing Mandela’s 46664 campaign (named for his prison ID number) to call attention to South Africa’s devastating AIDS epidemic. After South Africa, he then flew to Ethiopia on behalf of DATA, a third-world lobby group co-founded by U2‘s Bono. For Brad, charity is never-ending and Newsweek Magazine named Pitt as one of “15 People Who Make America Great” for bringing attention to causes in Africa. He even donated 5 million dollars of his own money to rebuild homes in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.
When discussing on whether he would consider becoming a director, he said, “No, not a chance. It makes sense on some level, but I really enjoy being a creative producer and I enjoy my day job as an actor. It’s enough for me. I want to also be a dad, first and foremost. After two days it gets itchy. I miss them. I just know how I’d be. I see how much time it takes to mount the thing and put it together. It wouldn’t be a good match.”
Brad said, “Fame makes you feel permanently like a girl walking past construction workers.” Additionally, he says, “When you see a person, do you just concentrate on their looks? It’s just a first impression. Then, there’s someone who doesn’t catch your eye immediately, but you talk to them and they become the most beautiful thing in the world. The greatest actors aren’t what you would call beautiful sex symbols. I’ll tell you who my favorite actress is, Dianne Wiest, and you wouldn’t call her a sex symbol. Dianne Wiest is, to me, the most beautiful woman on the screen.”
As for the future, Allied, due November 2016, is an exciting thriller. While on a mission to kill a German official in 1942 Africa, two assassins (Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard) fall in love, get married and then discover that one is a double agent that the other must eliminate. Producing The Lost City of Z, released in October 2016 was based on David Grann’s best-selling book of the same name, The Lost City of Z is the true-life drama, which centers on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for World War Z 2, in June 2017, which is the next installment in the franchise.
One thing for sure is that Brad is always ready for the next challenge, on and off the screen. As he says, “I always liked those moments of epiphany, when you have the next destination.”