25 February 2017

Imported from the USA: Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt (1963) is executive producer of Barry Jenkins' masterpiece Moonlight (2016), nominated for eight 2017 Oscars, which will be presented tomorrow 26 February. The attractive and intelligent American actor and producer is one the most successful film makers of his era. He has received multiple awards and nominations including an Academy Award as producer under his own company Plan B Entertainment. As an actor, Pitt wildly varies his film choices, appearing in everything from high-concept popcorn flicks such as Troy (2004) to adventurous critic-bait like Inglourious Basterds (2009) and The Tree of Life (2011). He has received Best Actor Oscar nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011). Will the astonishing successes keep on coming? 

Brad Pitt
British postcard by Heroes Publishing LTD., London, no. SPC2617.

Brad Pitt
British postcard by Box Office, no. BO 034.

Brad Pitt
British postcard by Heroes Publishing LTD., London, no. SPC2569.

A wickedly sexy hitchhiker

William Bradley ‘Brad’ Pitt was born in 1963 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and brought up in a strict Baptist household. His parents were William Alvin Pitt, who ran a trucking company, and Jane Etta (née Hillhouse), a school counsellor. He has a younger brother, Douglas (Doug) Pitt, and a younger sister, Julie Neal Pitt.

Following his graduation from high school, Pitt enrolled in the University of Missouri in 1982, majoring in journalism. Two weeks before earning his degree, he left the university and moved to Los Angeles, where he took acting lessons and worked odd jobs. Reportedly he chauffeured strippers to private parties, waited tables, and wore a giant chicken suit for a local restaurant chain. Pitt's acting career began with uncredited parts in such films as Less Than Zero (Marek Kanievska, 1987).

His television debut came in May 1987 with a two-episode role on the soap opera Another World. In November of the same year Pitt had a guest appearance on the sitcom Growing Pains. He appeared in four episodes of the legendary prime time soap opera Dallas (1987-1988). In 1989 he made his film debut with a featured role in the slasher Cutting Class (Rospo Pallenberg, 1989) with Donovan Leitch.

Pitt first gained recognition as a wickedly sexy hitchhiker in the road movie Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991), who seduces Thelma (Geena Davis) and robs her blind. Biograpy.com: “Pitt's combination of charming bad boy charisma and sensual playfulness—particularly in a fiery love scene with Geena Davis—made him a genuine sex symbol (and wore out the rewind button on many a VCR).“

His first leading roles in big-budget productions came with the dramas A River Runs Through It (Robert Redford, 1992) and Legends of the Fall (Edward Zwick, 1994), for which Pitt received his first Golden Globe Award nomination, in the Best Actor category. Both films gave the actor a much-needed chance to prove that he had talent in addition to his handsome looks. He then starred opposite Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas as the brooding, gothic vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac in the romantic horror film Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994), based on the novel by Anne Rice.

Pitt also garnered attention for a brief appearance in the cult hit True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993) as a stoner named Floyd, providing comic relief to the action film written by Quentin Tarantino. Pitt gave critically acclaimed performances as an emotionally tortured detective investigating a series of gruesome crimes in the horror-thriller Se7en (David Fincher, 1995) and as visionary mental patient Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995). This latter role got him a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination. Seven earned $327 million at the international box office. He also starred in the legal drama Sleepers (Barry Levinson, 1996).

Pitt then played Tyler Durden, the mysterious and anti-materialistic soap salesman in Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) about a bloody diversion for young professional males. This unglamorous, disturbing role was an interesting but odd choice for a man voted 'Most Sexy Actor Alive' by virtually every entertainment publication currently in circulation, but the film became a cult.

Jason Clark in his review at AllMovie: "A definitive case of a movie that has yet to find its time, David Fincher's unnerving and cataclysmic look at the male psyche takes no prisoners and makes no apologies, which is precisely why the film is so powerful. A kind of stepchild to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange in terms of its thematic relevancy and misunderstood nature, Fight Club looks and feels like almost nothing that has preceded it. Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter all successfully subvert their onscreen personas, and give fully committed portrayals that never get buried in the film's dazzling set pieces."

Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise (1991)
British postcard by Heroes Publishing Ltd, London, no. SPC2506. Publicity still for Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991).

Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire (1994)
British Exclusive Collectors' Artcard. Photo: Geffen Pictures. Publicity still for Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994). Caption: Louis de Pointe Du Lac (Brad Pitt) is a broken man, devastated by the loss of his beloved wife and infant daughter. Becoming a vampire is his only relief.

Male chemistry

Brad Pitt was cast as an Irish Gypsy boxer with a barely intelligible accent in the British gangster film Snatch (2000), Guy Ritchie's eagerly anticipated follow-up to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He then played Rusty Ryan in Ocean's Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001) with George Clooney. It was a remake of the Rat Pack classic about a group of criminals who plot to rob a string of casinos.

Well received by critics, Ocean's Eleven was highly successful at the box office, earning $450 million worldwide. The heist film had two sequels, Ocean's Twelve (Steven Soderbergh, 2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (Steven Soderbergh, 2007). Ocean's Twelve earned $362 million worldwide, and the third sequel earned $311 million at the international box office. CNN's Paul Clinton:  "Plus, Clooney and Pitt have the best male chemistry since Paul Newman and Robert Redford."

Another commercial success was Troy (Wolfgang Petersen, 2004), based on The Iliad by Homer. For his part as Achilles, Pitt spent six months sword training and it helped establish his appeal as action star. Troy was the first film produced by Plan B Entertainment, a film production company he had founded two years earlier with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures.

Pitt then had a hit with the stylish action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Doug Liman, 2005), opposite Angela Jolie. Mr. & Mrs. Smith earned $478 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits of 2005. Pitt starred opposite Cate Blanchett in Alejandro González Iñárritu's multi-narrative drama Babel (2006). His performance was critically well-received. Babel received seven Academy and Golden Globe award nominations, winning the Best Drama Golden Globe, and earned Pitt a nomination for the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe.

Pitt then appeared in the black comedy Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008), his first collaboration with the Coen brothers. The film and Pitt's supporting role received a positive reception from critics. Andrew Pulver at The Guardian: "Clocking in at a crisp 95 minutes, Burn After Reading is a tightly wound, slickly plotted spy comedy (...) Pitt, in fact, gets the best of the funny stuff, but has by some way the least screen time of all the principal cast."

The actor received his second Academy Award nomination for his leading performances in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008). Pitt played the title character, who is born as a 70-year-old man and ages in reverse. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button received thirteen Academy Award nominations in total, and grossed $329 million at the box office worldwide.

Pitt's next leading role came in the blistering war film Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Pitt played Lieutenant Aldo Raine, an American resistance fighter battling Nazis in German-occupied France. The film was a box office hit, taking $311 million worldwide, and garnered generally favourable reviews. Perry Seibert at AllMovie: "Tarantino has always cast his films to perfection, and the performers here know how to get the most out of the ornate language. Brad Pitt uses a hilarious Southern drawl, and his attempts at speaking Italian are a comic highlight."

Brad Pitt in Troy (2004)
Italian postcard by EdiBas S.r.l., Torino, no. Pc 1.338. Photo: Grazia Neri. Publicity still for Troy (Wolfgang Petersen, 2004).

Brad Pitt
British postcard by Heroes Publishing Ltd, London, no. SPC 2742.

Brad Pitt
British postcard by A Bigger Splash, Manchester, no. X743, 1997.


Brad Pitt had another commercial success with World War Z (Marc Forster, 2013), a thriller about a zombie apocalypse. Pitt produced the film which grossed $540 million against a production budget of $190 million. He also produced The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006) and 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013), both of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Another success as a producer and as an actor was The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2009), based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup. In this experimental drama, he gave one of the best performances of his career, playing a disciplinarian father. At AllMovie, Rebecca Flint Marx describes The Tree of Life as "a sprawling, cerebral phantasmorgia on the meaning of life and death". The film became one of the critical sensations of the year."

Pitt's list of successes seems endless. His productions Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011) and the comedy-drama The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015), garnered Best Picture nominations too. Moneyball received six Academy Award nominations including Best Actor for Pitt. Besides this Oscar nomination, his role as Billy Beane in Moneyball also earned him Best Actor nominations from the BAFTA, the Broadcast Film Association, the Golden Globes, and won him the New York Film Critics Circle award (the award was also for his role in Tree of Life).

Not only his work, his personal life is also the subject of wide publicity. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pitt was involved in successive relationships with several of his co-stars, including Robin Givens, Jill Schoelen and Juliette Lewis. In addition, Pitt had a much-publicized romance and engagement to his Seven co-star Gwyneth Paltrow, whom he dated from 1994 to 1997.

From 2000 till 2005, he was married to actress Jennifer Aniston. During their divorce, he fell in love with actress Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The entertainment media dubbed the couple 'Brangelina' and they married in 2014. They have six children together, three of whom were adopted internationally. In 2015, Pitt starred opposite Jolie, in her third directorial effort, By the Sea, a romantic drama about a marriage in crisis, based on her screenplay. In September 2016, Angelina Jolie filed in real life for divorce from Pitt.

Pitt’s most recent film is the World War II romantic thriller Allied (Robert Zemeckis, 2016) in which he and Marion Cotillard play an intelligence officer and resistance fighter, respectively, who fall in love during a mission to kill a German official. In 2017 Brad Pitt can be seen with Tilda Swinton in War Machine (David Michôd, 2017), a satire of America's war with Afghanistan with a focus on the people running the campaign. Announced is also World War Z 2 (2017), with David Fincher rumoured as director.

As an executive producer, Brad Pitt has another amazingly huge success with Moonlight (2016), directed by Barry Jenkins. The film about the life of a young black and gay man struggling to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami, is nominated for eight Academy Awards. The film gets our vote!

Trailer 12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995). Source: Movieclips (YouTube).

Trailer Snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000). Source: Juliana Mendes Mendonça (YouTube).

Trailer Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009), Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

Sources: Rebecca Flint Marx (AllMovie), Jason Clark (AllMovie), Perry Seibert (AllMovie), Paul Clinton (CNN), Andrew Pulver (The Guardian), Biography.com, Wikipedia, and IMDb.
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