MR PITT & HIS MAGICAL MATTRESS – by Mike Sager
On a hot summer afternoon, the most glamorous birth father in America sits in a diner booth and tries to make sense of the world.
A thunderous revving noise ruptures the quiet of the Spitfire Grill on a lazy afternoon in Santa Monica, California, accompanied by a series of subsonic reverberations that tinkle the ice cubes of my overfull water glass, breaking the surface tension, sending droplets down the side.
Abruptly, all is still. The birds in the tree out front renew their chirping and tittering; the waitress resumes filling the saltshakers. Steely Dan harmo¬nizes on the sound system overhead.
The door opens, and he walks in—his helmet beneath his arm—like Achilles entering his tent. He pauses a moment, looks around. The joint is empty. He seems relieved. He is wearing a nondescript nylon jacket and jeans; a BMW messenger bag is slung across his chest. Reaching the booth, he pulls off his gloves, one finger at a time, and stuffs them into the open cavity of his full-face motorcycle helmet. He offers a hand, an easy smile. He shoves everything into a corner of the booth and slides in.
He comes here a lot, he says, to this unintentionally chic little dive decorated with airplane posters and schematics and other flying mementos just across the street from the runway at the municipal airport, which borders on South Bundy Drive, that Brentwood landmark made famous by another man who was desperately seeking solitude—though that one preferred an SUV. Since hooking up with Angie—whose eyes, by the way, are also blue, though perhaps a deeper and more mysterious shade, his being more earnest, a lazulite or sky blue—he has taken up flying. He has recently completed his first series of solos. He says he loves the aloneness of flight. And also the sense that your life is completely in your own hands. “Everything can go wrong very fast, so it’s humbling.” Unlike his partner, who earned both her British and American certifications simultaneously—the British is said to be more rigorous—he has earned only his American license. “She gives me total shit for that,” he says, shaking his head. Clearly, he is a man who would follow a woman to the ends of the earth and back.
He orders a Coke and a basket of fries. He is friendly, normal seeming for someone who lives such a rarefied life. He talks about Maddox Jolie-Pitt’s recent T-ball game, about maybe moving to Washington, D. C., because the atmosphere around Hollywood is no place to raise kids. He makes a joke about being sleep deprived and another about how his vocabulary has been reduced lately to fawning monosyllables. William Bradley Pitt from Shawnee, Oklahoma. Suddenly he is a father to three.
Sitting there in the booth, he has the sun behind his head. It kind of hurts my eyes to look at him. So many movie stars are really quite odd in appearance. Something about their oddness translates well to the screen. Like Adrien Brody’s honker or Reese Witherspoon’s doorknob of a jaw. In person, Rob Lowe has this skinny little shrunken head. The fifteen pounds the camera adds? That’s his career. But Brad Pitt is as beautiful in person as he is onscreen, perhaps even more so. The lines of his face are angular but not severe; he has a two-day-old scrub of beard. His dirty-blond hair is short. I think I detect a few grays. His olive-green T-shirts—two of them, thin and expensive, worn in layers—are wrinkled and slightly askew, the neck holes off-center to expose one heroic clavicle.
Reaching into the rat’s nest of his possessions, Brad—who left the University of Missouri for Hollywood when he was only two credits shy of a degree in journalism—extricates from his messenger bag an oversize hardback sketchbook, the kind with a black matte cover favored by poets, college students, and world travelers, the last of which he plays in his new movie, Babel, a harrowing drama directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. (He’s also produced a documentary, God Grew Tired of Us, about the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” that’ll be released in November.)
He opens the book to reveal his not-inconsiderable effort: lines of neat printing in an architect’s block capitals, several pages of computer printouts, and a ten-by-three-inch piece of white cardboard stationery with the letters CAA embossed in red at the top, on which he has written the list we asked him to prepare for this issue. “I stayed up late last night doing this,” he says, “which turned out to be good, since we had this little diarrhea bout that we had to deal with today.”
I thank him for undertaking Esquire’s little assignment.
He waves me off with a french fry, pops it into his mouth. “Are you kidding?” he asks, taking a pull of Coke from the straw. “It’s like, enough about me already, you know? Let’s talk about something important.”