MAD, BAD BRAD – by Oliver O’Neil
You can count on your fingers the number of movies that Brad Pitt has made – but in such a short time he has established
himself as one of the major Hollywood names of the Nineties. The perfect pin-up, he first came to light in a Levi’s
advertisement, before hitting the big screen. But Pitt is out to prove himself as a serious actor – as he tells Oliver
Brad Pitt is just a smouldering kind of guy. It’s his slow-burning sensuality, first glimpsed in his steamy appearance as the
sexy hitch-hiker in 1991s Thelma & Louise, that has put him on top of Hollywood’s list of hunky heart-throbs.
But the tall, slim and boyish Pitt does not want to be ‘just another Hollywood hunk’. He prefers to hide his handsome looks
behind scruffy beard and long, sandy hair, as he does in his most recent film, Kalifornia.
‘I want to play all sort of different characters,’ says 29-year-old Brad Pitt. ‘My part has to be something more than the
typical hero with the cool one-liners. That just doesn’t interest me. I don’t want to be Golden Boy. I could have played the
good guy in Kalifornia but I needed to play the bad guy. A real white trash. I needed the balance after A River Runs Through
In Kalifornia he is cast as serial killer Early Grayce, who isn’t exactly the most likeable guy on screen at the moment.
‘He’s a guy with no morality. He hasn’t had many options, so he created his own ideas about right and wrong and they’re a bit
off from what other people think. He creates thinks in his life for excitement, and one of those happens to be murder.’
There has been a lot of discussion about the effect violent films might have on society, and Pitt does believe violent films
like Kalifornia can indeed inspire people to do negative thinks. Still, he feels our actions are our individual
‘I wouldn’t like to make a killer glamorous,’ he insists. ‘I think that would be irresponsible. In fact, I went out of my way
not to make myself glamourous in Kalifornia. My character was very glamorous in the script, but I didn’t want him that way.’
He finds it unacceptable, however, for Hollywood to make politically correct films.
‘If we have to be politically correct about everything, there would be no drama left in any of the films we’re making today. I
do beleve that people know movies are make-believe.’
‘Personally, I have no problems watching violent films,’ he continues. ‘It’s perfectly fine for me because it’s like a little
boy’s dream, that’s all. You can imagine what happens when you get the girl that you want and that everybody gets wounded but
they still make it. Movies are make-believe, escapism. I don’t see them as documentaries.’
After his breakthrough in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, replacing William Baldwin, who had chosen to do Backdraft, Robert
Redford’s A River Runs Through It made Brad Hollywood’s new Golden Boy. Despite low budget features like Johnny Suede and the
animated flop Cool World, he is still considered Hollywood’s most promising young star.
As expected, he takes his craft seriously, but surprisingly enough he doesn’t do much research before he plays a role.
‘I remember reading a story about this actor who was playing a kid who worked in a bowling alley, so he worked in a bowling
alley for two months before the shoot. I’m the opposite of that. For Kalifornia I started to read a book, one of those trashy
novels on somebody who supposedly killed over three hundred people.’
‘I got to about page twenty three and felt I had got the idea. I decided to rely on my instincts instead.’
Since making Kalifornia, Brad and his co-star Juliette Lewis, who made a splash in Cape Fear, have broken off their three-year
romance. They met on the set of the critically-acclaimed TV movie Too Young To Die and although they no longer live together,
they are still friends.
He says of their relationship, ‘I see her a lot, but it’s hard with two actors together. We had a great time together and maybe
one day, who knows? But we’re not together anymore of anything like that. When we’re hanging out, we’re not doing romantic
things. We’re just home on the couch with the remote control.’
Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and raised in Missiouri, William Bradley Pitt is the eldest of three children. His father Bill,
worked for a trucking company and his mother, Jane, teaching parenting skills to young families.
Although he never acted during his school years, he says, he knew he wanted to be an actor. Suddenly, in his last month of
college, he decided to go for it.
‘I was studying advertising and it was about two weeks before I graduated when I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore,’
recalls Brad. ‘People were getting jobs and were going to be set for life. I wasn’t ready for that.’
‘I loved movies and I thought, if I’d been born in Hollywood, I’d have a shot at them. Then I realized I could go there. It was
very simple.’ He arrived in Hollywood with $325, scanned the newspapers and landed work on an industrial training film by the
end of his first week. Parts in feature films like Happy Together and Cutting Class followed, as did a role in the ill-fated TV
series Glory Days.
‘I didn’t like anything about it,’ he says of his brief stint on television. ‘You sign onto a project and you have no control.
A different director comes in every week and tells you who your character is.’
‘The show was canceled after a brief run and I was relieved because they were grooming me to be this teen idol. I didn’t want
to be like the guys in Beverly Hills 90210. Heart-throbs are a dime a dozen.’
Brad is philosophical about Hollywood and the film business. ‘I know I’m going to have some movies that hit and some that don’t
work,’ he says of his career prospects. ‘There are just too many elements involved. There’s not one of our great actors who
hasn’t had a weak film.’
In order to eliminate the bad ones, he chooses his films depending on who’s involved in it. ‘It’s still like betting on
horses,’ he smiles, ‘because you can have a great script and it can still end up as a piece of trash.’
The film he is currently making, the highly awaited Interview with the Vampire, was an easy one to choose.
‘Neil Jordan, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and a good script based on a wonderful book. You can’t go wrong there.’
‘And Legents of the Fall, which I finished recently, had great actors like Tony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn. Another easy choice.
When you play tennis with someone better than you, the game gets better, and that’s how it was making Legends of the Fall and
how it is making Interview.’
Much has been written about the casting of superstar Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview with the Vampire. Brad laughs at the
controversy, ‘It’s just a movie, so why are everybody so worked up about this?’
But he does understand that writer Anne Rice, whose book the film is based on, is going against the casting of Cruise.
‘She has created a book with all these characters and she sees it one way. That’s all fine, but she sold her book and ought to
know that when a movie is made from a book, it takes on its own form. The film’s never going to match the book.’
He feels it’s a challenge to act with Tom Cruise. ‘I tell you, he’s great,’ Brad enthuses. ‘We’re having a good time and he’ll
surprise people with his performance. He’s going at it hard. He’s changed the look and everything. I’m not going to give
anything more away, if you want more information, you’ll have to knock on his door.’
In Legends of the Fall, based on Jim Harrison’s novela about a tough English colonel and his three sons who leave the ranch in
Montana to do battle in the first World War, Brad is back to the period he so succefully embraced in his most succesful film, A
River Runs Through It.
Legends of the Fall follows a family through about twenty years in the early nineteen hundreds. ‘It was the hardest movie I’ve
ever made: long hours and it seemed like we had somebody dying or crying every other day. But I had a lot of fun with the other
guys when we had time off.’
Although he frequently goes back to Missouri, where his family lives, Brad has settled down in Los Angeles where he is breeding
‘I’ve got twenty of them, from Madagascar. I want to get them to live on a tree but I have to invent a cage because once in a
while I’ll find one of them cruising on the TV set.’
When he isn’t working, he isn’t found out on the town like so many other of the young Hollywood crowd. He prefers staying at
home, watching TV.
‘My buddies kind of abuse me because I don’t leave the house much,’ he laughs at his favourite past time. ‘I like the nature
shows on TV the best. I like really bad TV, really bad sitcoms.’
‘When I get tired of switching the channels, I write bad songs and play the guitar. I take it seriously, but I suck. I’d be a
musician if I could, and I hope to play Chet Baker in a movie one day. I love his music and I’m fascinated by characters like
him. People have so much, yet somehow they can’t get it together. They’re very mysterious and compelling to me. I think there’s
something positive and uplifting in Chet’s playing and I’d like to explore why he let people down.’
Brad also likes to travel and he spends much time in Europe. In between films, he has lived in the former Yugoslavia for four
months and in the Netherlands for two.
‘I just rented apartments and bought myself a bicycle. Next I want to go to Barcelona and study the architecture of Gaudi. I’m
interested in architecture, that’s what I originally went to college for. I also want to go to Madagascar and camp for a while.
I want to see where all my chameleons are coming from.’
Despite his success, Brad doesn’t feel like a star. ‘I work a lot and I’m still stuck myself,’ he says. ‘Nothing much has
changed, really. Well, I’m just getting into the opportunity to make some decent money, but any money I’ve come into up to now
I’ve put into land, so I’m pretty much broke.’
He reflects for a second, then adds ‘Of course, I have tabloid reports camped outside my house every time a couple gets
divorced and I’m supposed to be involved. I’ve had people in my trash and all that. I guess that’s the kind of intrusion that
make you feel like a star.’