Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt in World War Z

Brad Pitt in “World War Z”

Vacuous pretty boy, skilled character actor, or charismatic leading man? In the two decades since Brad Pitt first came on the scene, he’s been all of those – and often all three in the same year. Setting women’s hearts aflutter with not much more than his flowing locks and world-famous abs, he’s nevertheless shown great skill in character parts while providing mixed results as a lead.

Brad first came to Hollywood in 1987 after dropping out of college just a few credits shy of a degree. His parents couldn’t have been happy, but looks do count for something in showbiz. The 24-year-old landed his first acting gig almost immediately – portraying a giant chicken in front of an El Pollo Loco fast-food restaurant.

Uncredited roles as a waiter in the forgotten thriller “No Man’s Land” and as an anonymous preppie in the somewhat better remembered “Less than Zero” led to more roles in soaps and sitcoms, including a one-shot on the high-school comedy, “Head of the Class.” Setting a pattern for the rest of his career, Brad also dated one of his on-set coworkers, Robin Givens. Brad had even more luck when he landed his first lead role the following year in “Dark Side of the Sun,” a soapy melodrama filmed in Yugoslavia. History intervened, war broke out, and suddenly Brad’s luck wasn’t so good. Soon, there was no Yugoslavia and no movie. A few years later, however, Brad broke through for real with a memorable supporting role as a boy-toy criminal in the women-on-the-lam Oscar-winner, “Thelma and Louise.” After that, Pitt’s career moved steadily upwards, with a lauded performance as a serial killer opposite real-life girlfriend Juliette Lewis and David Duchovny in the 1993 cult-hit “Kalifornia” and a leading role in Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Through It.” “Interview with a Vampire,” opposite Tom Cruise and eleven-year-old superstar-to-be Kirsten Dunst followed.

By the next year, Pitt’s tortured lead role in the western mega-melodrama “Legends of the Fall” earned him comparisons with James Dean and the open lust of seemingly every female on earth. The megahit horror/detective outing, “Se7en” followed. Brad finally nailed superstardom, as well as another of his co-stars. (No, not Morgan Freeman.) Yes, it was time for Brad’s first big tabloid-ready all-superstar romance with Gwyneth Paltrow. The impossible-to-follow Ms. Paltrow was, nevertheless, followed by Jennifer Aniston and a three-year long marriage. That marriage famously began to dissolve when Brad began work on the action comedy “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which paired Brad and his next co-star love, Angelina Jolie. For a long time he was best known as one-half of the globetrotting, do-gooding, serial adopting/child-bearing entity known as Brangelina, Brad’s been pretty much inescapable for most of the last several decades and it looks like we may be stuck with him for another 20. With seemingly never-ending youth on his side and the appearance of some real live movie-star chops late in the game, it looks like the eternal pretty boy is sticking around whether we like it or not.

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Brad Pitt Interviews

Interview with Brad about “Se7en”
Young Brad discusses his intense role.

Brad on the Screen

Brad’s shown he can do the movie star thing quite well lately in the “Ocean’s” series, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and even holding his own with Cate Blanchett in the torturous “Babel.” But Brad has always shined best in comedic, off-the-beaten-track supporting roles, starting with his hilarious turn in 1993 as the stoner-to-end-all-stoners in the Quentin Tarantino penned “True Romance.” Brad was also a standout as a complete loon bedeviling Bruce Willis in Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi mindbender, “12 Monkeys,” and as an indecipherable Irishman in the Guy Ritchie crime-comedy “Snatch.” It’s not really a supporting role, but for lots of guys, Brad will always be “Fight Club”‘s ultra-ambitious human-fat soap salesmen cum brute messiah, Tyler Durden. Brad’s worst work? That’s easy. The casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat in “Interview with the Vampire” famously made fans of the book see red, but it was Brad’s living dead performance that ruined the movie for us. More recently, the actor has continued to wow us with award-nominated turns in “Moneyball” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Se7en” (1995)
Pitt is excellent in this jarring thriller from David Fincher playing opposite acting giant Morgan Freeman and the billiant Kevin Spacey. “Freeman and Pitt are both brilliant in this film, and the tension and chemistry between these two opposite characters lays the groundwork for the story. At this time, Freeman has already established himself as one of the best and most important actors in Hollywood, while Pitt is just getting started. Freeman is at the height of his powers as he embodies the stoic and logical Somerset. Pitt reveals his acting talents as he captures the raw emotion and frustration of a character that’s out of his depth.” Pitt also establishes some memorable chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow who plays his wife in the film. The two of them will become an item off-screen.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (2019)
Brad stars opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie (again) in this film directed by Quentin Tarantino. Pitt wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Rob Dean writes that “Pitt is next level cool as Cliff, boasting the kind of self-assurance that only comes after a lifetime of mistakes and bruises.”

Babylon” (2022)
Brad Pitt’s talents are mostly wasted here in the ambitious disaster from Damien Chazelle. “Brad Pitt has proven his acting chomps again and again, but here he seems robotic as he recites his poorly written lines. There’s little that’s believable about his character or his performance. His character is a silent film star, living the life of a rich and adored celebrity, who then struggles with the emergence of talkies. But the audience isn’t given a chance to becomes emotionally invested in his plight.”

Brad Says

On success:
“You know, I telephoned my grandparents the other day, and my grandfather said to me, ‘We saw your movie.’ ‘Which one?’ I said, and he shouted, ‘Betty, what was the name of that movie I didn’t like?'”

On beauty:
“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”.

On acting:
“Basically, when you whittle everything away, I’m a grown man who puts on makeup.”