BRAD’S BIGGEST PASSION – by Ileane Rudolph
The actor talks about his Real Heroes-Extraordinary People who are saving lives around the world.
Brad Pitt is calling from France, where he’s living with Angelina Jolie and their adopted kids, Maddox & Zahara, to talk about a project close to his heart. No, not impending fatherhood, or his upcoming movie about Jesse James. Instead, the 42-year-old superstar is pumped about a PBS documentary, Rx for Survival – The Heroes, which profiles people who have found solutions to world medical crises. "We wanted a celebrity who had done work on global health and poverty issues," says senior producer Lisa Mirowitz of her search for a narrator. "He was down-to-earth, patient and very educated about these topics." We couldn’t agree more.
Interviewer: You’re a $20-million-a-picture superstar. Why stop to do this project?
Brad Pitt: The ultimate reason, of course, is that everybody matters equally. There’s a great imbalance when you see so many people dying-especially kids-from mosquito bites or diarrhea. It tells me more should be done. And the main reason is that these kinds of issues don’t seem to make our print and airtime. We’re not getting this information. And our society has great ingenuity and great empathy and we could create more change.
Interviewer: So America’s not doing enough to combat global poverty and disease?.
Brad Pitt: I’m not saying that. I’m saying we don’t know enough. It’s just not on our front page. What i like about the series is not only does it make the humanitarian argument, but it also makes the self-intrest argument that we should be paying attention to global health because diseases can certainly spread. We’re all sitting in the same petri dish…hold on…one of my kids toys is going off…Ok, i got it.
Interviewer: The documentary is about humanitarian heroes. Who are your heroes?
Brad Pitt: The survivors. The people who are fighting every day under horrible circumstances to provide for their families.
Interviewer: Was there a wake-up moment for you?
Brad Pitt: Well, for me, someone who’s so fortunate, it became a question about equality. We may have all been created equally, but we’re not born equally.
Interviewer: What have you seen that breaks your heart?
Brad Pitt: You hold these children, who have already lost their parents to these diseases – TB, AIDS, malaria – and you know how vulberable they are. And i look at them and i can’t help but ask, "What is their future?" And my response is, "This is unacceptable." But i don’t limit it to children – it’s the families that really break my heart.
Interviewer: So what can people do?
Brad Pitt: It’s more than just witnessing it and saying it’s a terrible situation. This should be our focus: the solution. This is where Bono has been very successful. Bono is a wonderfully dedicated beast unto himself. I find him very inspiring. But the website related to the documentary – pbs.org/rxforsurvival – provides links [to] ways for people to get involved.
Interviewer: Did you learn anything from Rx for Survival?
Brad Pitt: I did. I learned about how simple some of the solutions can be, like adding vitamin A to a child’s diet prevents river blindness. As the documentary shows, vitamin A costs 2 cents for a dose. A bed net [to prevent malaria] is a third the price of a CD. These things aren’t out of reach.
Interviewer: Are you planning any more humanitarian trips right now? What’s next?
Brad Pitt: No. My plan right now is to have a child…
Interviewer: Right. Congratulations! So can i ask-
Brad Pitt: [Laughs] I’m absolutely not going to talk about that here.
Interviewer: Ok. Well then, congratulations on doing a good thing and on getting yourself educated about some issues.
Brad Pitt: Yeah, who’d have thought?