TROY: AN INTERVIEW WITH BRAD PITT – by Wilson Morales
When the casting of Achilles came about, there was probably no question about the first and only choice for the role. As opposed to some actors who would have to grow physically into the role, Brad Pitt was the perfect choice. He’s one of the few actors who’s also known for his physique. Granted, he probably had to put on a few pounds and trained heavily for the role, but it wasn’t a stretch for him. After being off the screen since "Ocean 11", Brad is ready to conquer the box office this year with "Troy" and then come back later with "Ocean 12" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". On a recent trip to New York to promote Troy, Brad spoke about his role in "Troy" as well as his marriage to Jennifer Aniston and the rumors surrounding him and Angelina Jolie.
About much more in shape you have to be for this role?
BP: It’s really no different than what we do. Ever since (Robert) DeNiro put on 60 pounds for "Raging Bull", he sort of set the course. He screwed us all. (Laughs).
You were better here than you did in "Thelma & Louise".
BP: I really hit it hard. Probably an impending mid-life crisis.
With the success of "Gladiator" a few years back, do you think there’s a need for classic heroes to be brought back to the screen?
BP: I think that’s probably insightful. I see cycles come and go and it’s a little strange when you see three baseball movies come out of nowhere, and right now the western genre is coming back. You’ll be seeing a lot of western films in the future. I think so definitely in confusing times, we will reach out to these stories to help define things for us. As for a need for heroes, I don’t know. That’s never been my forte, but possibly. Certainly; that’s what "Gladiator" kicked off.
Will you be coming out in a western film of your own?
BP: Yeah, I’m doing a film with Andrew Dominick, who directed "Chopper" with Eric Bana. We’re doing a film on "The Assassination of Jesse James".
Is Tony Scott directing it?
BP: No, he’s producing it. He was always attached as a producer.
Do you see Achilles as an anti-hero? A killing machine?
BP: On that scorecard, he’s a hero I guess. As far as heroes, I’m really not good with that. I saw him as extremely human with an immense talent for fighting. What I was really drawn to that character was that he (1) sets up this search for more in his life, which is really a search to reveal more of himself. He’s faced with this choice and makes this choice and he’s wrestling with crisis of conscience over his choice. I guess what I really liked most about it was that his character is formed through experience and his responses to them, and sometimes he goes to the extreme, and not necessarily down a good road. But it’s not by adopting any kind of dogma or belief system. It’s by trial and error.
Do you think he was chasing fame?
BP: Not that blatant, but you can certain draw parallels to chasing fame; the avoidance of death and wanting to leave a mark. The fear of death and not meaning anything to him and certainly he is in this crisis but it’s more. He says, "I want what all men want." It’s the extreme that he goes through which is what I was drawn to make these discoveries. Of course it’s not until Priam comes along and he understands his own humanity.
Are there days when you wish no one knew your name at this point?
BP: 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.
How did you become so levelheaded?
BP: That I appreciate. I just don’t know how to answer that other than keeping an eye on the bigger picture.
Do you think it comes from your mid-west roots?
BP: Definitely. But there’s also a false humility that we learn to adopt that’s not necessarily an answer to the question, and I have always been a questioner and that’s what driven me crazy and kept me sane.
Besides getting prepared for the film physically, how did you do it mentally?
BP: That was much more important to me. The physical part is very visual and obvious from the beginning, but truly, it’s what we do. You change your hair, and you learn a new dialect. You put on what you put on to find the character. But to me, this was such an internal part, and a very isolated character. I lived in Malta with no AC and just a monastic life up there. It sounds a bit but for what we do for a part like this, it gives you that extra percentage, that extra mindset and tone, and loneliness. So much of acting is just merely tone, and not how the lines are read, and what we do. It’s all about the tone.
Can you talk about your injury?
BP: The injury was that I tweaked my achilles’ tendon. How’s that for an irony. Which is bizarre?
How did it happen?
BP: Wear and tear on the sand and doing the fight scenes, which was the end. All we had left to shoot was the fight scene with Hector and Achilles, and that when my Achilles messed up.
Can you talk about the scene with Peter O’Toole?
BP: The scene with Peter O’Toole was for me a milestone in someway. I would say highlight, but that wouldn’t do it justice. It’s going to be on my greatest hits reel of my experience. I can’t begin to describe what a lovely, lovely hilarious man he is. Very eloquent. I went to meet him at 4 in the afternoon just to hang out for a couple of hours I had to leave at 4am because I was too tired and he was still going.
What does it feel like to have a wife unemployed now?
BP: She makes more money than I do.
How is she doing with this being the last week of Friends?
BP: She sang goodbye to an era that meant very much to her. Has great friends and great experiences. There’s the sadness of that and the acceptance of that, but also the excitement of going into a new era. So it’s that transitional spot, that moment where you’re at a depot, and what direction you are going now.
Would the two of you ever do something together?
BP: We would, but you look through history and the odds aren’t with us. It would have to be delicately handpicked.
What’s your favorite Friends episode?
BP: The thanksgiving episodes are always hilarious and I can’t think right off hand.
Do you have more time to do stuff with her now?
BP: Before Troy, they had a real civil schedule. They had gotten it down to such rhythms that it didn’t require much and I was off for two before I was offered Troy. I hadn’t done a film since Ocean 11, so we got a lot of together. I was working on a couple of projects that didn’t work out.
So what’s hanging out with her like? Where do you guys go?
BP: I don’t know if it’s that exciting, but we really enjoy being home. It’s peaceful.
Are you smoking again?
BP: Oh yes, I am.
Did Jen stop when you stopped?
BP: Jen’s different. It would be like 9pm and Jen would be like, "Oh, I forgot to smoke today. She’ll have like 1 or 2 after a meal.
Can you talk the fight scene with Eric Bana?
BP: We trained for so long that it became second nature to a point, we is good because now we could play the part. We made a deal with each other that we would just go for it. We decided that, for slight infractions would be 50 bucks and for major hits, if one clobbered the other, it would be 100 bucks. I ended up paying him $750, and myself $200. I hit myself a couple of times.
Did you talk to Mel Gibson as how to wear the skirt?
BP: There’s really not much to it as you will find out.
What did you wear under?
BP: Apparently, in the day, freeballing, which is a bit odd because everything is protected with heavy bronze and armor and your vitals are hanging in the wind. It’s a kill shot to me. I don’t understand that.
Are you appalled by the tabloids headlines featuring you and Angelina Jolie?
BP: At this point we just stay away from it all cause we’ve seen so much of it come and go. I’ve never seen someone so misperceived as Jolie. She’s a really decent human being. Very dedicated with her UN work and very dedicated to her child, which is a daily thing for her. She’s surprising levelheaded and bright and decent.
She told us how great you were with her son. Would you like to be a father?
BP: Yeah, it’s time. I’m finally at the place where I think I won’t mess up too much and Jen’s in agreement with this.