Handbag – 2004


In a rare interview, Brad Pitt talks about making Troy, why he resisted playing Achilles at first, working with Peter O’Toole, turning 40, and his hopes to start a family with wife Jennifer Aniston.

In the big new summer epic Troy, Brad Pitt stars as the doomed warrior Achilles. Arrogant, rebellious and seemingly invincible, Achilles has allegiance to nothing and no one, save his own glory. His insatiable hunger for eternal renown leads him to attack the gates of Troy under Agamemnon’s banner, but love will ultimately decide his fate.

I read somewhere you described this as the role of your career?

I don’t think I said that.

But how important was it to you to play this character?

When I first read the thing it seemed too obvious, in a way, in my addled brain, but then I quickly got into it.

Why did you think it was obvious?

I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not sure what it was. Golden boy, or something.

What do you actually feel about Achilles? What’s your take on him?

This may take us a while. There’s a real telling line when he says, ‘I want what all men want; I just want more.’ There’s a real restlessness and as I say, an isolation in the guy. Whether he’s running from death or trying to find himself in a personal glory, he’s at a point where he’s had that glory and that hasn’t done it for him. The Achilles’ heel, to me, is representative of his heart. It wasn’t until Priam (Peter O’Toole) knocked some sense into him, with words instead of might, that he was then able to ride out the rest of his life with a personal understanding of the greater humanity and his own inner peace of mind.

How did you research the character of Achilles?

Fortunately, there’s so much that can be done on The Iliad. So many people have written about it throughout the ages that I had a great well of information to glean from, and I culled the things that meant the most to me. It really wasn’t that difficult. It was a real isolated character who was in search of self, I guess.

I’m not going there. I don’t know. It’s intimacy for all of us, isn’t it, pretty much for nine out of 10 of us here? Did you read the whole thing or go the Cliff’s Notes route?

I actually read the whole thing because I knew this question was coming. No, that’s not true. When I started it, though, I really got into it. There’s a reason why it’s still around. It’s one of the great stories in a handful of stories, and you’ve seen how many films and stories are derivative of it.

What’s your Achilles’ heel?

I’m not going there. I don’t know. It’s intimacy for all of us, isn’t it, pretty much for nine out of 10 of us here?

Did you see any connection between Achilles’ glory and your own glory?

You can make parallels to fame, but it’s not near to the extent of the Achilles character. But I could certainly draw on that. And the choice that he’s offered in the beginning and always wrestling with is this crisis of conscience with the choice that he’s made.

Is this the closest you think you’ll come to a real action film?

Actually, no, I’m just finishing up a real action film, a more contemporary action film. Mr & Mrs Smith is more of a comedic action film, and I just started Oceans [Twelve] on Monday.

Mr & Mrs Smith has nothing to do with the Hitchcock film, right?

No, it didn’t. And I wasn’t aware of that [film]. I had to look it up.

What can you say about the choreography of the fight scenes?

The choreography was fantastic. It was very important that we find a distinct fighting style. This was Simon Crane, our second unit director, who was responsible for all the strategies and the choreography and the dramas of the fights. He comes from Private Ryan. He comes from Braveheart. He’s top-notch, but in this one it was real important to develop a distinct style. We’ve seen so many fights now at this point that he very smartly took it another way, meaning that this time, when things are faster and harder, he took it back and took a more balletic approach. He was very adamant that we do it ourselves and that we learn it. There are not a lot of cuts. You see it’s more full-figure. You see the death blows.

Did you come up with that power move?

No, that was all Simon Crane and his boys, Buster Reeves and Dave Leitch and Mark Mottram. There’s a whole bevy of these stunt guys. No wires.