Actor Brad Pitt spoke to CNN’s Larry King on about his latest movie, his wife and family and his efforts to help with the continuing Hurricane Katrina recovery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here is a transcript:
Larry King: We now welcome to “Larry King Live,” from New Orleans, Brad Pitt, the Oscar-nominated actor and producer.
He stars in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” It opens wide on Christmas Day. Already Oscar buzz — and deservedly so — it is one heck of a movie. We’ll talk about it later.
He’s also the founder of Make It Right. The Web site, makeitrightnola — that’s New Orleans, Louisiana — .org.
You were here a year ago. It’s good to have you back. But I must ask, Brad, what’s the moustache for?
Brad Pitt: It’s political, Larry. It’s political. I’m making a stand for men with moustaches. I don’t think they get treated fairly.
King: You’ve got a point.
Pitt: And I want to change that.
King: Are you doing a movie where you wear a moustache? Is that it?
Pitt: That — yes, I am. I’m currently in Berlin [Germany] now, filming a Quentin Tarantino film. And I am a man with a moustache.
King: How are the twins doing, by the way?
Pitt: Everyone’s healthy, so we’re all happy.
King: Do you ever feel outnumbered?
Pitt: They’re getting heavy.
Oh, yes, yes. But, you know, our plan is that we’re going to give it all to them anyway. So, whenever they want to take over, we’re ready.
King: All right. Let’s talk about a couple of things before we get to what you’ve done in New Orleans, and then the movie.
What are your thoughts on President-elect [Barack] Obama?
Pitt: Me? I’m — oh, man. I think, overnight, we redefined what America’s about. I couldn’t be any happier and more hopeful for the — for America, for the upcoming — in the upcoming years.
And that team he just announced, I’m so impressed with.
King: Were you in Berlin when he won? Or were you stateside?
Pitt: No, we were actually in Chicago, [Illinois,] in Grant Park. And I tell you, it was an incredible experience.
Pitt: Yes, yes. We ended up walking home from the night, and all the main boulevards were closed. And just the jubilation in the street was something extraordinary to see.
King: Now, you traveled — I know you’ve traveled to India for films — films your wife was in. And you were kind of reportedly fascinated by the country.
What do you make of what happened in Mumbai?
Pitt: Well, funny enough, we were actually — we saw — we stayed in the Taj. And we saw — the room we stayed in was on fire.
You know, I mean, I can’t even begin to make any sense of it. But I’m sure they’re doing their best to uncover, you know, what was at the base of it.
King: That’s a very special place, isn’t it?
Pitt: It’s an incredible building. It was an incredible — India itself is one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever been to. Everyone should be so fortunate to get to explore it.
It also suffers from inefficiency in a strange way, and a great — a great gulf between the rich and the poor there that needs to be addressed there. But it is certainly a fascinating place.
King: All right. It’s a year later. The goal is to build 150 homes.
Pitt: It’s a year later.
King: How is Make It Right doing?
Pitt: Well, the goal is — the goal is even bigger than that. The goal is to create a template for intelligent building. The goal is to rebuild all of New Orleans, all the people who want to come back.
But, yes. Our initial goal is 150. And as you can see — you can see some homes behind me that now — that are — that have begun to spring up.
And this holiday there’ll be — there’s families that have already moved in and will be celebrating their Christmases here. So, we’re very excited.
We’re sitting in basically the same spot where you and I talked last year.
Pitt: And if we sit here again in a year from now, you’re going to see another 100 homes behind me. And we’re really happy.
And I thank you and your audience who supported Make It Right, because, you know, people that — families were having a very difficult time to come back. And through the contributions, we were able to help them meet that gap that they were falling short of.
And more than that, we, you know, we’ve built some homes here that are doing something really special. This home you see behind me now, the meter right now is currently running backwards. It’s a sunny day, so it’s — right now it’s off the grid. It’s making its own energy.
And the family there is going to save 75 percent off their energy bill throughout the year. They’re — they live in a place that’s comfortable, and with great light. And it’s a real — these homes are about dignity.
And that’s the thing I’m most proud of.
And as we look into the future, we ask ourselves, you know, how can we make this replicable? How can we standardize what we’ve learned here on the technological front?
So, it’s all very exciting. There’s exciting things happening here.
The other thing I’d like to add is that the homes here are all LEED Platinum, which is the green certification. And that’s the highest standard you can get. And probably, a year from now, this will be the greenest neighborhood in the United States. I think so.
So, coming from a place that suffered such injustice, that’s been marginalized and almost forgotten in the sense of really helping people get back, has now become a place that is in the — that can be in the forefront of American communities. So, we’re excited on so many fronts.
King: And by the way, if you want to help, it’s makeitrightnola – that’s all one word – makeitrightnola.org.
King: Hurricane Katrina, of course, slammed New Orleans in the late summer of August 2005.
You described the storm victims as being caught in limbo. How are they doing now? Is that hope still there?
Pitt: Well, the hope is definitely here. And it’s more exciting to be here now, because you see things like what’s happening in this neighborhood happening, you know, all over the city and even outside the city.
So, the money that was promised is starting to flow. There are multiple ground efforts, many different programs, people helping out, that are really starting to come to fruition. So, there’s a lot of great movement and a lot of great things happening down here. It’s really nice to see.
King: These are, of course, Brad, tough economic times. How is that affecting your ability to raise money?
Pitt: Well, you know, we met our goal — or at least it’s been promised — to meet the 150 homes.
You know, my hope is to take it much, much further than that, because I believe there’s a real template here to build upon.
But I don’t think we can keep asking the American people to help with this gap, or myself or other communities. I really think it’s got to come from the government at all levels. So, we’re trying to, now that the case of improving here, we are trying to see if we qualify for any of the money that’s been earmarked for this area to help with the rebuilding.
And that’s our — that’s our investigation right now.
King: Do you think Obama will help?
Pitt: Man, I — he’s certainly not going to hurt. Yes, I think he’ll — I think he’ll help in — he’ll be helping this country in many, many different ways.
King: By the way, is New Orleans now your home?
Pitt: Well, it’s — we call it a base camp. You know, as you know, we’re …
Pitt: … we’re nomadic as a family. So, it’s certainly — yes, it’s certainly one of our bases. It’s our water well.
King: Now, it’s also the key aspect of your new film — by the way, as I told you before we went on, it’s a terrific movie. I saw it a couple of days ago. This is one hell of a movie.
It was filmed mainly in New Orleans. Wasn’t it originally set in Baltimore [Maryland]?
Pitt: It was originally set in Baltimore, and we decided to come here — before the storm, even. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s — it defined the movie in such a beautiful way. It was a perfect match. You can just feel the pulse of the city.
And being that it’s a bit of a fantastic story of a man who’s born old and grows backwards, New Orleans somehow makes it believable, that it could almost happen here.
And we’re really happy to be here, and to be able to come in right after the storm. And I think it won for all of us for so many
King: They bring this idea to you. I’m trying to picture this as funny, Brad. They come to you with this idea.
“Brad, how would you like to do a movie where you’re born like 98 years old, and you get younger, till the end of the movie when you’re a couple of months old.”
What sold you on it?
Pitt: Yes, all I heard — all I heard was five hours of prosthetics every morning.
I didn’t think I was the guy who was up for the task.
But, you know, ultimately, the man spearheading it, who had been working on this for, you know, a good five years diligently, and certainly — I mean, we filmed this two years ago. So, every day since then he’s been on it. And that’s David Fincher, our director. And we’ve done two films together before — “Seven” and “Fight Club.”
And then, and Mr. Eric Roth, who is our writer, and who is also a godfather of my son Pax, who’s also — meaning he’s a dear, close friend.
And Cate [Blanchett, co-star] was in very early.
So, it really became about, you know, the company I’m keeping. And, you know, as I get older, it just becomes something that’s more and more important to me, who I’m going to spend my time with — much more important than anything else, really.
And I’m fortunate for it, because an amazing story came out of it.
King: You’re not kidding. When people see this movie, do you think, in addition to talking about the stars and the story, there’ll be a lot of talk about aging?
Pitt: I think so. I mean, you know, it’s certainly something we tend to run from as a society. I mean with good reason. You know, it scares me to death.
But I — yes, why not? Why not?
You know, it certainly makes me conscious of how much time do I have left. Do I — you know, is this my day? Do I have 40 years left? What do I want to do in that time? How do I want to use it? And who do I want to spend it with?
And I don’t know. Me, man, it makes me — this film just makes me want to hug my kids and call my folks. And it’s really special. And I’m not a salesman. I find this one quite authentic and something really special.
King: Well, help me with a little — a little technical secret. When you’re old young, you’re 2 years old.
King: Now, it’s your face in a shriveled up old man who’s also 2 years old.
King: How did they do that?
Pitt: Well, this is — again, this is part of the genius of David Fincher. He loves to take whatever the latest technology is out there.
In this case, it was a technology we used to blow up the world and, you know, get eaten by monsters, and subvert it and pervert to do just that, to put my face through a filter, and then put it on another actor’s body as he’s walking through the scene.
And that’s the simple version of it all. It’s quite complicated.
And again, you know, we started filming two years ago, and he just is putting the final touches. He’s just finishing all the C.G. on it.
King: Was the actor a child or a small, little guy?
Pitt: No. These were — it was actually three different actors for the first, you know, 20 or 30 minutes of the film, to follow Benjamin at different stages of growth.
King: Wow. I applaud you and everyone associated with it. It’s a great, great movie.
Do you think — do you think having kids — as you have so many — keeps you young?
Pitt: Thank you, Larry.
King: Do you think it keeps you young?
Pitt: I have so many. No, man, it wears you out. Are you kidding? I’m aging fast.
King: But there’s nothing better in the world, right?
Pitt: It’s worth every second of it.
King: There’s nothing better in the world than being a father.
Pitt: Not for me there’s not. No, not for me. I would agree with that.
King: You’ve also said that part of the appeal of New Orleans…
Pitt: Of course, you know, I got to spend a few decades being idiotic and hell-bent and solipsistic, and everything else. So, you know, I got time to get all that out of my system. So …
King: Wait a minute.
Pitt: I’m sorry, you were saying?
King: You mean there was a wild Brad Pitt?
Pitt: I mean, wild in my book, yes. Yes, sure.
Pitt: Yes, I got away with a lot, Larry.
King: I’ll bet.
You’ve said part of the appeal of New Orleans is that you and your family can have a sense of normalcy, if there is such a thing.
How do you define normal?
Pitt: Yes. Well, it’s a place that we can actually walk on the streets.
And it’s the community here. It’s the people here. It’s — very kind. But they also, for some reason, do not feel like they have ownership in some way or something. They’re really respectful.
Nothing more than a wave and “Glad you’re here,” and let us go on our way. It’s a — it’s just a — we’ve made some good friends here. It’s just a really nice — I don’t know how to describe it better than that. Just a place for us to be.
King: Yes, I’ve noticed that when I was there.
Pitt: We could move here. We can move around.
King: People don’t mob after you there.
Pitt: No. They’ve got their own thing going, man. They’ve got their own thing going here.
King: Yes, they do.
Pitt: I’m just a, you know …
King: Another guy.
Pitt: Another color to it.
King: Why do you think that the public is fascinated with the personal lives of people who are well known? You must have thought about that.
Pitt: I try — I’ve stopped thinking about it, really. I mean, I don’t know. There are certainly people I’m interested in. It’s quite complimentary. But, you know — and I think it is an interesting family.
It’s not your usual family.
Pitt: I’m quite interested in my family, actually, so, I don’t — I certainly don’t see it as anything less than a compliment.
King: Do you want more children?
Pitt: I don’t know. I can’t find a reason why not — just yet.
King: All right. You’re on the January issue of — the cover of “Architectural Digest,” talking about Making It Right. You shoot some amazing photos of Angelina [Jolie, Pitt’s partner] for “W.” Exclusive photos of you and the twins were sold to “People” for charity.
You like privacy, but you like exposure. How do you balance the two?
Pitt: Well, the pictures for “W,” you know, it’s a really strange feeling. It’s something Angie and I had to talk a lot about, especially with the birth of Shiloh. You know, these pictures were going to come out — these pictures are — you know, I’m talking about the pictures of the kids.
Pitt: There’s a bounty on our heads. And these pictures are going to come out at some point. And they’re going to be chasing us, and they’re going to — they’re going to go to the ends of the earth to get these photos.
And we just thought, well, maybe we could — since there’s such a bounty, and that bounty is so obnoxious, we could take that money and funnel it to something good. And that’s what we decided to do.
It’s still a bit uncomfortable to do such a thing, but I know it’s right in the end. And that was a decision we made.
The “W” photos were just — we just didn’t want to leave the house, so we just figured we’d do it ourselves, and had a good time doing it.
King: Good idea.
A couple of other things. Christmas is coming. You said the last time you were with us that you wanted or hoped to build a multiceremonial family with regards to the holidays.
Is that working out?
Pitt: Yes. Yes, well, we’re working on it. We’re still working on it.
You know, we tried a little something last year, but the kids are so young, it just didn’t mean much, really. But we’re getting there.
You know, as they get older, they’ll start to understand more. Right now, it’s still presents, you know.
King: When do you go back to Berlin?
Pitt: I go back next week for some more shooting. Me and my moustache.
King: See you next year, Brad. Thanks so much, baby.
Pitt: Hey, Larry, thanks a lot. Thanks again, and thanks for the support. Really appreciate it.
King: OK. If you want to help, it’s makeitrightnola.org. And the movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” opens in theaters Christmas Day.
The guest, Brad Pitt. Thanks again, Brad.
Pitt: Great. Thank you, Larry.