The Blossoming of Brad Pitt: From Leading Man to Oscar Winner
By Kien Lee
On the occasion of Brad Pitt’s first public appearance as brand ambassador for Breitling in Beijing, as part of the Swiss Manufacture’s Cinema Squad advertising campaign, we had the opportunity to speak with the Hollywood star on his career so far.
First bursting on the scene as a cowboy hitchhiker in Thelma & Louise back in 1991, the next twenty eight years have seen the actor transcend genres and generations with his acting chops. Leading roles in dramas include A River Runs Through It (1992) and Legends of the Fall (1994), and horror flick Interview with the Vampire (1994). Four years after that breakthrough introduction, Pitt would earn a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination, respectively for crime thriller Seven and the science fiction film 12 Monkeys.
The accolades and achievements didn’t stop there. Pitt would then go on to receive his second and third Academy Award nominations for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011).
As a producer, he won the Oscar for Best Movie for both The Departed (2006) and 12 Years a Slave (2013), while The Tree of Life, Moneyball, and The Big Short (2015) garnered Best Picture nominations.
In 2018, Brad Pitt joins fellow thespians Charlize Theron, Adam Driver and Daniel Wu in Breitling’s new campaign, forming the Cinema Squad. The approach to gather a “tribe” of recognized masters in their respective professions to represent the brand is a novel, even ingenious concept by the Swiss Manufacture, with CEO Georges Kern explaining that the choice of a “band of brothers” who were accomplished in their own fields, personified the authenticity of the brand and its endeavours.
“At Breitling, we believe in the power of a team, the strength of a group, and the mutual identification of a common target, which ultimately leads to success,” explains Kern.
He adds, “We aim for authenticity, credibility, and honesty for our brand and our products, as well as in our interactions with our clients. The same applies for each of the squads. We are going to launch several of them, from sports to the arts, covering different areas of activity linked to our thematic worlds: air, sea, and land. Our squad members – world-famous or not – will be absolute masters in their respective fields. I am very much looking forward to seeing them soon, going on individual or shared challenges in one of the Breitling environments.”
Brad Pitt, renowned in watch collector circles and entertainment beat as an actor with refined tastes in watches, had already been spotted with a Breitling on his wrist, long before the brand approached him to work together. In the Cinema Squad visuals, we see him with the Premier B01 Chronograph from the new Breitling Premier collection.
We find out more about how this coming together happened so naturally.
Even as you started your career and things were taking off, you’ve been spotted with timepieces on your wrist. What started you on watches? Are you an avid collector?
I’m not sure if I’d really call myself a watch collector. I like watches. They are one of the few options a man has to express himself with an accessory. And watches aren’t just for decoration – I also love their precision, their purpose.
What attracts you to buy a watch?
The most important things for me are the aesthetics and what it feels like to wear. Not every watch feels the same on your arm. Finely-made watches just like these [gestures to the Premier B01 Chronograph on his wrist] have a certain gravitas, a weight… That’s something that I like to feel on my wrist.
Much like Breitling as it goes through a transformation now, your career has gone through an evolution and blossoming as well, and successfully so. From leading man to now an Oscar-winning producer with an impressive slate under your wing. Can you tell us about this journey? What prompted you to go behind the camera?
What I love about what we do is we get to tell stories. As an actor, you’re telling a story. As a director, you’re telling a story. As a photographer, you’re telling a story. To produce is putting all those elements together, so it just felt like a natural extension of what we do.
As actors, you start dissecting the story and getting into it with your director. So it was just a natural handoff to get into production, which is buying a story, cultivating it, finding the right writers, developing it, putting the right team together… the team that you believe in. It’s an expansion of the creative process.
So, at the end of the day, it’s still telling stories.
Since you’ve started producing movies not too long ago, your movies have won 2 Oscars and another 3 have garnered nominations for Best Movie. Are you doing something differently than the others?
Well, we’re still a little “garage band.”
Two friends and I started Plan B as a little garage band. Little movies were being made and big tent pole movies were being made, and in between, there were a lot of talented directors, writers and storytellers that were having a difficult time. We wanted to encourage and promote these people we believe in. That’s how we got started. What we found ourselves really being drawn to was “complicated” material. I call it “complicated” to describe the degree of difficulty to get the story made to completion. Projects like these need so much more support to go from idea to film. In a way we still have the same enthusiasm of a garage band. I always think: “If we find this idea interesting, then other people will too.” The question is how many people. But that isn’t my game. I’m just interested in the stories. It’s a quest for quality storytelling.
Being a producer became much more fruitful and is much more fun than I ever imagined.