News Day – June 13, 2007


When “A Mighty Heart” opens on June 22nd, it will mark Brad Pitt’s sixth credit as a producer on a feature-length film. Based on Mariane Pearl’s account of the brutal Pakistan murder of her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter/bureau chief Daniel Pearl, the much-anticipated drama stars Pitt’s wife Anjelina Jolie and Dan Futterman as the two married journalists.

Pitt, the 43-year-old star of this week’s number one grosser, “Ocean’s Thirteen,” has already racked up a fairly impressive producer’s score card, with the Oscar-winning “The Departed” and Sundance Grand Jury prize-winning doc “God Grew Tired of Us” under his belt. Pitt also had a hand in “Running with Scissors,” which overcame dim notices to notch an Oscar nomination for Annette Bening, and Mike White’s quirky indie dramedy, “Year of the Dog,” which opened in April to generally favorable reviews.

“What I appreciate the most is getting to be part of a project that normally we wouldn’t be right for,” said Pitt before a gathering of press at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, where the Michael Winterbottom film premiered to acclaim. “I was very taken with Mariane’s story the moment it first appeared on CNN. Through the producting conduit, get to take part in these kind of films, see them to the end, find the right people, make
sure things stay on the rails. It’s a really interesting side to filmmaking itself. You don’t have to be in front of the camera.”

Pitt was emphatic in his choice of Winterbottom to helm the film. The eclectic British director is perhaps best known for “Welcome to Sarajevo,” “24 Hour Party People” and “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.” But it was “The Road to Guantanamo,” his dramatization of a trio of British Muslims who were held in Guantanamo Bay prison for two years and then released without charged, that sealed the deal for “A Mighty Heart.”

“We felt he was the best storyteller for ‘A Mighty Heart.’ He’s a citizen of the world, he’s focused on these issues. It was really going to achieve some kind of love story: it’s done in flashbacks. To achieve that its got to be successfully created in whiffs and smells and instances.

“The moments that he did that in ‘Guantanamo’ that really spoke to me was when he focused on the boys in their normal habitas, their normal lives at a pizza parlor. We were able to understand who they were at home, without ever having to play it out or make any kind of grand punctuation.

“Another thing I appreciate about Michael’s films is, he follows a life. He doesn’t create the life, or set the life. It’s a really raw approach to filmmaking that really applied itself to the journalistic nature of this film.”

In addition to “A Mighty Heart,” the actor-slash-mogul has at least eight other producing projects currently in various stages of genesis, including “Dirty Tricks,” a Nixon administration drama that features Jim Broadbent as President Nixon, Sharon Stone as Pat Nixon, Meryl Streep as Martha Mitchell and Pitt as White House Counsel John Dean.