Brad Pitt recently spoke with Variety’s Christy Grosz about his work on two best picture Oscar nominees, “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life,” and collaborating with one of the most reclusive directors in the business.
How did Terrence Malick convey his concepts for “Tree of Life” to you as an actor?
He would come in with three pages of single-spaced thoughts and maybe some dialogue. What he does is he gets up in the morning and just bangs on the typewriter for an hour, ideas for the day’s work. I learned as an actor to pick a few things from that consciousness notebook that he would give me, and I would start to build something around that.
He starts with a very dense script but (uses) that as a spring board to capture those truthful missteps. He would do stuff like push Chivo (cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) before a shot just to put him off balance. We were in the car doing what I thought was a very important scene and all of a sudden he threw the dog in the front seat to create this chaos.
How did that work with the young actors?
I know the dialogue, at least as it is written, and Jessica (Chastain) knows the dialogue, but the boys don’t. He may tell them right before a scene, give them a response to aim for, but it’s very free form.