Cleo – November, 1992

OH BRAD! – by

Deacon, a melancholic red hunting dog, greets me at the gate of Brad Pitt’s ageing West Hollywood bungalow. Pitt, I
find out, can’t greet me himself because he’s busy cleaning up the mess Deacon made in the livingroom the night before.
Mess is perhaps an understatement. The place looks like it’s been ransacked by the drug squad, or by the heavy metal
band who found the drugs before the police got there: overturned house plants {with green parts missing}, mauled
pillows, systematically shredded sofa cushions. Something, resembling polished wooden floorboards is just visible
beneath a veil of potting soil and foam rubber confetti.

Anybody else would have had the dog put down, but Pitt seems to find Deacon’s talent for domestic sabotage endearing.
“He’s going to have to go to boot camp,” says Pitt in his soft Missouri drawl. “Usually it’s just shoes, so we tie the
shoe of shame around his neck. He gets real humiliated and has to leave.”

Pitt disappears into the bedroom and returns wearing a grey T-shirt hanging out over green satin pyjama bottoms “for
maximum comfort”. The idiosyncratic dress sense of Pitt and his actress girlfriend Juliette Lewis (who shot to fame as
the sexually awakening Danielle in Cape Fear) are becoming legendary. America’s Village Voice magazine recently dubbed
them “a gorgeous grim twosome”, not least because of the cornrow hairstyle Lewis sported at the Academy Awards. “She
won ‘Worst Hair’,” jokes Brad, “I was so proud.”

He offers me a cup of coffee and pops a Dire Straits CD into the nearby ghetto blaster, the pile of loose CDs includes
The Platters, Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin. His other dog, Maggie, a black Labrador, trots in. Brad lights up a Camel
Light, and we continue.

The 28-year-old actor has been taking some time off to get his life back in order having filming three movies in a row.
Firstly, the low-budget surrealistic comedy Johnny Suede, then Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World, a morality tale of humans
adrift in a cartoon universe, and finally Robert Redford’s country period drama, The River Runs through It.

Does he find his new celebrity status intruding on his life? “More responsibility comes with it, of course,” he
responds. “But you got to ready for it. First you’re like, arrgghh! Then you’re like, more responsibility? PL. Do I
keep doing this? I got to take care of this too. That was kind of abstract, wasn’t it?”

Yeah, can we get more specific? “There’s just more things to be taken care of, it seems to me,” he says, spitting a
mouthful of sunflower shells into a cup, “More people are paying attention, so you’ve got to be more on the ball if
you want to keep doing what you’re doing. It’s easy for them to find another kid.”

Pitt stands up and asks if I want a full tour of the house. Deacon’s escapades aside, housekeeping doesn’t appear to be
the actor’s strong point. The floor is littered with cigarette butts. Dirty coffee cups, over-flowering ashtrays and
junk-food wrappers adorn most flat surfaces. No dirty clothes. Rumour has it his mother still does his washing. There’s
also an odd assortment of drums and stringed instruments—a couple of electric guitars, a bass, a mandolin—lying about.
His bedroom, however, in revealing contrast. Is utterly tidy, fitted out in industrial black. A small framed photo of
Juliette Lewis sits on a bookcase.

It may be a trite aphorism to say people resemble their dogs. But when I interview Johnny Suede writer-director Tom
DiCillo a couple of weeks later, instinctive” is the first adjective out of his mouth to describe Pitt’s performance
as a huge-quiffed, suede-shoe-loving Ricky Nelson wanna-be.

DiCillo, who adapted Johnny Suede from a monologue he once performed in downtown New York clubs. Says casting the lead
was the most depressing experience of his life—until Pitt showed up. He was looking for someone like Jon Voight in
Midnight Cowboy, an American from nowhere. All the actors coming in were doing a Billy Idol number.

“They did this thing where they thought Johnny Suede’s problems were cool and funny,” recalls DiCillo. “They came in
and were real anuses. I’d say, ‘Do you guys realise this guy is a complete wreck emotionally? Who doesn’t have the
faintest clue who he is?’ They didn’t get it. It wasn’t until Brad came in and, damn, there was just something very
magical about it. He took off his boots and did this monologue about suede. I was immediately convinced that this was
the guy. He wasn’t afraid to show that Johnny is this guy with all these problems on his sleeve.”

“The trap with Johnny was very simple,” explains Pitt. “You play the outside of a guy who wants to be hip and
happening. To me, he had to be pretty unsettled inside to have put on all this and that. He’s looking to all these
outside things to make him a man, make him happy. The end of the movie is really the beginning of Johnny. He wakes up
one morning and realises he’s been an idiot. He didn’t need the hair.”

DiCillo fondly recalls two other examples of Pitt’s instinct for the character. The first was a scene where Johnny has
just cheated on his girlfriend Yvonne, and a tell-tale pair of panties fell out on to the floor. They were having
trouble with the close-up, until DiCillo asked Brad to look like “a deer caught in a car’s headlight”.

“He said ‘Oh, OK’,” recalls DiCillo. “Boom! And that worked. I love that moment in the film. It’s beautiful. It’s
Brad’s moment. He understood the part and was willing to explore it.”

But it was the scene where Pitt as Johnny walks around alone in his tiny flat in his ratty underwear, farting and
scratching, that really won DiCillo over. It’s the epitome of uncool, but Pitt embraced it. “The underwear came and he
didn’t think it was ratty enough. So he took it and tore the shit out of it, and made it as ratty as possible,” says

It’s impossible, of course, not to draw comparisons with this decidedly unsexy image and Pitt’s infamous Levi’s spot,
which also parading around in his underwear, albeit a slightly more glamorous pair of boxers. His publicist had warned
me that Pitt wouldn’t want to discuss that foray into the world of commerce, but he doesn’t flinch when the subject
comes up.

“I did it for an introduction before the film came out in Europe,” he says. “Thelma and Louise was going to open up
there and then all these others we going to be out there later. I don’t regret it. I had fun. It was simple. It was
light. People were great. A little vacation. I don’t want to be called the 501 guy by any means, but it was fun. So
yeah, it was all right.”

Still, Pitt’s not particularly comfortable with his pin-up image. His sexy performance as JD in Thelma and Louise, the
criminal cowboy who gives Geena Davis her first orgasm and then robs her blind, hasn’t helped much. “Another sex
symbol. How boring,” he says. “That’s just what the world needs. Somebody who symbolizes sex.”

But isn’t that what people are paying you for? “I guess so. But that’s not what you go after. You go after an honest
character. Because of Thelma, that’s what they’ve noticed. The guy came off sexy. I don’t know.”

He may profess not to enjoy it, but Pitt has an instinctive understanding that playing up the teen idol image will
help him get where he wants to go as an actor. That pandering side of the business has taken its psychological toll,
however. He confesses that recently he has been plagued by a recurring dream in which all these Hollywood types he
barely knows are asking to borrow his toothbrush.

Curiously, after dodging a lot of personal questions, the actor opens up when talking about his relationship with
Lewis, whom he met met two-and-a-half years ago, filming a lurid NBC movie of the week. Too Young To Die?. The
precocious actor, who was 16 at the time, played a young runaway whom Pitt’s character beats up, turns into a junkie
and sells for sex. Love at first slap?

“It started out with conversations. And then, when we finished it, we decided to play ball,” he says, adding, “I don’t
feel like we deserve [to live together] just yet. Not that anything’s wrong, it’s just that there’s time for that,
that’s all I’m saying.”

Although the couple is rarely seen in public together—Lewis went solo to the Golden Globe Awards, but Pitt did
accompany her to the Oscars—he says it’s not a conscious choice to avoid the paparazzi. They just never go out. Full
stop. “We’ve only been to two movies in two-and-a-half years,” he says. “One was my premiere, one was Juliette’s. You
try to avoid these types of events, but you have to be courteous. You don’t have to be an idiot. And you don’t have to
be the rebel guy. You can get by, you can have fun. But if I don’t have a reason to go, I won’t go.”

When Pitt wants to have a good time he invites his “little group of buddies”, including Dermot Mulroney (of Longtime
Companion), a whiz on the cello, over for an old-fashioned “hootenanny” jam session. “A bunch of people come over and
play tunes, odd instruments, accordions and flutes and drums. Anything anyone can grab,” he explains. “We had one of
those nights recently when everybody got on bongos and played to [Peter Gabriel’s] Passion Sources.”

When I press him for more names he suddenly gets the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, and, deciding he’s already
revealed too much, replies, “Ah, just people.” He gets up, pulls out the Passion Sources CD and pops it into his ghetto
blaster. The kitchen is soon reverberating with eerie Arabic wailing. After a few minutes, he replaces it with
something more conductive to conversation, the Neville Brothers’ Yellow Moon.

Pitt, the product of a strict Southern Baptist upbringing in Springfield, Missouri, was once headed for a career in
journalism. A few credits shy of his degree at the University of Missouri, however, he took off for Los Angeles,
ostensibly to attend art school, which he never did. On his arrival, he knew instead that his destiny lay with movies.

Waiting for his big break in the film industry, he supported himself with a variety of odd jobs—driving limos, handing
out cigarette samples and even dressing up in a giant chicken costume to promote a fast-food franchise. He has fond
memories of those early struggling days. “I was just so excited to be here. Everything was fun.”

His family is very supportive of his career. And while he’s no longer particularly religious himself—although he does
believe in God—Pitt says he admires his family for their dedication to their beliefs. Religion just isn’t his thing;
it’s far too much like “rival high schools”.

Pitt remembers that, as a little boy attending church, he’d sit cowering in the pew, afraid the preacher would ask
him to come up and give the benediction. “At the end of the service they always called somebody up,” he recalls. “I was
always petrified they were going to call me. I’d have this little prayer in my head, ‘Don’t be me’. I found a lot of
guilt and a lot of fear that I don’t agree with.”

That upbrining served him well for Robert Redford’s ‘30s drama, The River Runs Through It, adapted from a novel by
Norman MacLean about family conflict and fly fishing. “It’s about a family who can’t communicate. I know that sounds
odd,” he says. “They’re very set in Christian beliefs and ways. And my character feels differently, and kind of goes on
his own path—but it ends up a distinctive path because he’s gotta live one way with his family and then he has this
other life going on. It’s about his brother trying to get to him. It’s fantastic. It’ll rip your heart out.”

Pitt camped out in a tent with Deacon for a week at a time during filming, and has since taken the sport of fly
fishing to heart. He and his roommate, Buck Simmons, occasionally practise their casting on the street in front of his
house, and are planning a fishing trip together.

The actor shows a very different side when co-starring with Kim Basinger in Cool World, a part-live, part-animated
project about a young man who escapes into a parallel cartoon universe when reality get much too real. “All these bad
things happen to this kid and he ‘checks out’,” says Pitt. “The cartoon characters can’t have sex with humans. But the
humans come over and they want to. My job is to keep them doing it. But at the same time I’ve got a cartoon girl I’m
dying to get it on with. It’s an unusual film.”

Pitt goes back into action this summer when he will shoot Forget Me Not with John Malkovich, star of Dangerous Liaisons
and The Sheltering Sky. Pitt describes the script as “very poetic”. “The Malk’s character is a complete cynic on life;
we’re talking complete apathy,” he says. “My guy’s a compulsive-obsessive and through a chain of events gets amnesia.
He gets a new start on life because he doesn’t remember. See, it sounds hokey, I can’t do it justice. It’s realy

He and Lewis are also set to work together again later this year in California, in a film where he plays a serial
killer. Pitt is obviously a big fan of his girlfriend’s talent and says he hopes to work with her a lot more, “Genius
isn’t a good word, because it’s been so abused, but…”

Now that she’s been nominated for an Oscar, it would be natural for there to be competition between them. “I’ll answer
that question. No,” he says. “That’s why we’re still together I think. You have your egos, honestly speaking. But it
hasn’t been a problem. I’m completely proud of her. If I’m going to be associated with someone, it’s got to be somebody
I’m proud of.”

“First [our career] were very separate, and lately we have been able to help each other. It’s just becomes more fun.
You have someone else on your home team. What we have goes beyond acting. The work is not the basis of our
relationship. It’s what we have fun doing, but what drives us crazy also.”

“The real barrier has been the time spent apart,” he says. Lewis also had to contend with several tabloid reports about
a steamy off-screen romance between Pitt and Geena Davis during the shooting of Thelma & Louise. Did that cause any
problems on the home front? “Well, see, we know what’s at home. We just know what’s at home. We had one split on the
way up. Couple of months. It’s hard when you’re away during films, of course…”

“You hear about people having sex, you know, actually doing the act while they’re filming. It really goes on. But see,
what it comes down to, and it’s universal for all relationships, is communication, you know. Because if one of those
feelings starts coming up, you have to make it known and then get around it. Egos get in the way, man. Egos are
monsters. You really got to get around the ego.”

At some point during this soliloquy I look down and notice man’s best friend humbly licking my shoe.