Tonic – December, 2006

A NEW MAN – by Jan Jansen

Brad Pitt is the epitome of the Hollywood star. But with a new focus in his life, he talks exclusively to Jan Janssen about life, children, challenges and his hopes for the future.

Brad Pitt says he’s no longer the same man as he was before–which means before he became part of Angeline Jolie’s evolving life. He’s glowing with the challenges of broadening his outlook by joining in her commitment to global issues, and according to the man himself, it’s not a naive or passing interest on his part; he feels he has wanted to get more involved for many years.

“I’m just beginning to realise how much you can do to influence people and draw attention to important causes. I’m enjoying this period of my life because I see that I can do a lot more now than I ever imagined before. It’s all about re-jigging your world and becoming more involved and not limiting yourself.”

Since Brad and Angelina’s love affair began, it has intrigued the press and public worldwide. The pair have gone from ‘are they or aren’t they?’ to becoming a highly publicised and ever-growing family unit. Brad admits that becoming a father to Angelina’s adopted children, as well as now to their natural child, has had a profound influence on his thinking.

“Children change everything about your life. It’s no longer about you. Being a father imposes a higher sense of responsibility on you and you find yourself taking that very seriously. But you don’t see it as an imposition. You see it as a very enriching thing. You want to see them grow and learn things and be part of that experience–it’s a great feeling!”

New man’s movie

Brad was in fine form and good humour doing his three-day adventure in Toronto, Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival where he was promoting his new film, Babel. Directed by Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros), Babel spans three continents as it portrays a series of tragic events that befall American, Moroccan, Mexican and Japanese families.

Pitt and co-star Cate Blanchett play a married American couple who get stuck in Morocco when Blanchett’s characte is wounded by a bullet fired by a peasant boy playing with an old rifle in the desert.

“This is a really profound film that says a lot about families and love. You also have a sense that we’re all much closer to each other than before, that diverse cultures are coming together. I consider myself a citizen of the world these days–this is the life I want!”

Loving Life

Though co-star Cate Blanchett was unable to attend the film festival because she was filming four hours down the 401 Highway in Montreal, Brad more than made up for her absence by playfully posing for photographers, chatting up female admirers along the red carpet and generally enjoying himself.

“This is fun. I’m enjoying my time here and even though my life is sometimes a strange thing, I’m not letting it affect my being able to attend these kinds of events and support the work of a director like Alejandro. He’s truly and international director and I’m feeling more and more interested in films which reflect the human spirit and try to say something about our times. In my own way, I want to contribute to making the world a better place for people who have to struggle to survive.”

While in Toronto, Brad took time to attend fellow actor and Ocean’s 11 alumnus, Matt Damon’s One on One charity fundraiser. The two have recently been working on Ocean’s 13, the last in the George Clooney-driven capers films which have been shooting in Los Angeles and its environs of late.

“I’m glad to be here to support Matt and the children this project is helping. It’s the one good thing about being a celebrity–you can raise awareness and do something positive with your time.”

Ever since Brad and Angelina became the world’s hottest couple, Brad has begun dedicating himself to the kind of global charitable work that Angelina has been carrying out as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. he has also basked in the glow that comes from being a father to bother her adopted children as well as to their own first natural child.

“My life is much richer and more rewarding for getting involved with projects that help people enormously and in very concrete ways. There’s so much satisfaction that you get from being part of that process, and it helps make you less cynical about your own life.”

Despite rumours of an impending wedding, Brad has recently declared that he won’t even consider marriage until everyone else ‘is free’ to do the same. However, this statement shouldn’t surprise anyone, given what he said last year about matrimonial rites.

After his well-documented marriage to Jennifer Aniston collapsed, Brad was quoted as saying: ‘The idea that marriage has to be for all time–that I don’t understand. My marriage is talked about like it failed, I guess because it wasn’t flawless. Me, I embrace the messiness of life. I find it so beautiful, actually.”

Kindred spirits?

That’s the kind of attitude that perhaps makes the intense Angelina and free-spirited Brad an ideal couple. They love children deeply, they’re both committed to working for international causes such as child welfare and the fight against poverty, and they both feel that their charitable work in some ways liberates them from the celebrity madness that follows them wherever they go.

“I’ve been living with photographers on my tail for 14 years and so anything I can do to take the focus away from myself has got to be a positive thing. But I’ve chosen this life, I accept it, it’s a great life in many ways, and so being able to redirect attention away from me and towards causes like fighting poverty in Africa is very important to me. I can’t get out of the press. These people can’t get in the press. But we have the potential to end poverty (in Africa) in our time. I mean, what is more exciting than that? The potential’s there. We gotta go for it.”

Certainly, Brad was looking in high spirits during his Toronto sojourn, despite hordes of photograpers following his every move. Surely this frenzied obsession with his life must be hard to cope with–even for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars?

“let me speak from my experience,” he replies with a smile. “You know, I’ve been in the tabloid for 14 years now. And at some point you just become a Zen master of it all!”