Time & Again – February, 1998

Host: Hello and welcome to Time and Again. Acting is a tough business, good looks and talent don’t guarantee success. And most aspiring actors find themselves settling well shorter than dreams. Not so for Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Our subjects on this episode of Time and Again. Two young actors with exceptional talent, who are now among the leading stars of their generation, each with a large of devoted female following.

*Clip of Meet Joe Black*

We’ll also spend some time with Brad Pitt starring lately with Anthony Hopkins in Meet Joe Black.

*The Today Show, interview November 11th, 1998*

TTS Host: Brad Pitt has had some challenging roles throughout his career but his latest maybe the toughest yet, He brings death to life in his new movie; Meet Joe Black.

*Clip of Meet Joe Black*

TTS Host: Good to see you Brad.

Brad Pitt: Yes, good to see you.

TTS Host: Now you, like mentioned in the intro; you play Death.

BP: Yea *laughing* right.

TTS Host: People may think, well that’s a pretty difficult role. I mean, can you set up the movie for us and explain what’s happening here?

BP: We start with Tony Hopkins, the character Bill Parrish who is a successful businessman, having a little heart trouble and we come to find out that Death pays him a visit, and tells him his time’s up but not just yet, we’re gonna give you a few more days, but in the meantime I want you to show me around. And in the meantime he gets involved with his daughter. It sounds absolutely silly.

TTS Host: And it gets very complicated.

BP: Absolutely but it’s so well done. Beautiful.

TTS Host: Why did Death wanna visit Anthony Hopkins character?

BP: I think cause he’s Anthony Hopkins. Cause he’s all that. But yea his strength and… his ability to instruct he says… really, just who he is. I think he wanted to get a little something of what he got… as the song goes.

TTS Host: He, Bill Parrish is a fine man, really.

BP: Yea, Anthony Hopkins is a fine man.

TTS Host: I love him.

BP: He is…

TTS Host: Do you love him as much as I love him?

BP: I truly do. He is… I dunno as much as you love him? Hopefully, maybe in a different way for me but… *Laughing*

TTS Host: Well I don’t love him that way but I think he’s just so great.

BP: He is. He’s… fantastic. He’s the greatest actor, ONE of the greatest actors we have and I don’t know how he does what he does, I’ve watched him through two films now and I still don’t know how he gets to what he does. He’s so elegant and eloquent.

TTS Host: And elevates everything.

BP: He elevates everything and he never falls into these traps within the script. Sappiness or silliness. He shows the flaws. He’s just a complicated, complex, beautiful, giving, fantastic guy.

*To the Time and Again studio*

Host: Welcome back to Time and Again as we spend a little time with two men of the hour; Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, William Bradley Pitt. He was born in Oklahoma, raised in Missouri and was drawn to Hollywood. Just short of graduating college, he dropped out and headed west. Pitt made the usual stops on the road to stardom. Odd jobs, commercials, bit-parts in TV and movies.

*Clip of Thelma & Louise*

Host: In 1991 he got noticed his brief role as a hitchhiker in Thelma & Louise.

*Clip of A River Runs Through It*

Host: The following year he starred in A River Runs Through It; he’s been a star ever since.

*Clip of Meet Joe Black*

Host: Most recently in Meet Joe Black.

Part two of the interview:

TTS Host: In this role Brad, you’ve to play this spirit who comes in and has to sorta learn how to live in this world. And so you’re sort of hesitant and uncomfortable in a way. Is that how you tried to play the role? I mean sort of tried to get into the swing of things?

BP: Well…I just say I was pretty lost coming into this one.

TTS Host: *Laughing* Why?

BP: Well there wasn’t a lot of research I could do.

TTS Host: Yea that’s true.

BP: No one to interview.

*Clip of Meet Joe Black*

TTS Host: It’s a very thought provoking movie about our sort of time on our planet.

BP: I think so… I think… in simplest terms it says some beautiful things about love about family and then we deal with of course the inevitable loss. Which everyone gets sooner or later, so.

TTS Host: It’s also mentioned when you were describing the plot; a love story.

BP: It’s a love story. Yes and a love story between family members, a love story between a man and a woman. Just a very fulfilling story.

TTS Host: It’s a long movie. It’s almost three hours.

BP: Yea…

TTS Host: Seems like long movies…

BP: And no one loses an arm…

TTS Host: *Laughing* Yea.

BP: The ship doesn’t go down… But I thought it was very brave. I mean now, films now, are getting more clipped and cut and… Marty Brest went for more… let things sit and let things… get into ya

TTS Host: Breathe.

BP: Yea, breathe, like wine.

TTS Host: Did you ever worry that it could sustain that three hour time?

BP: Well we, I mean you never know what it’s gonna… what the length is gonna come out. I surely don’t. Until it’s all put together. And, if I stay interested, I’m alright.

TTS Host: I was saying to Tony. You know we’re like this *Crossing her fingers*

BP: Yea *Smiling*

TTS Host: That, you should do a romantic comedy sometime. Something sorta light and airy and…

BP: For Tone… Tony should?

TTS Host: No you!

BP: Oh, I should?

TTS Host: Yea!

BP: Oh I should…

TTS Host: Have you ever thought about that? Because sort of, your character is initially, before things transpire, is kind of a funny…

BP: Goof.

TTS Host: Goofball. Have you ever wanted to do something that’s just a little lighter, a little less intense than the roles you’ve take on?

BP: *Laughing* Yea I think that would be a breath of fresh air. I’ve thought about it. I dunno. I’ll feel it out.

TTS Host: Everything else is going well in your life. I know you’re not wanting to talk about anything but the movies.

BP: I say it’s going well.

TTS Host: Good. Happy?

BP: Yea pretty happy.

TTS Host: Good, good.

*Back to the Time and Again studio*

Host: Brad Pitt on Today, 1998.

Host: Six years earlier Pitt was starring in A River Runs Through It. Directed and narrated by the golden boy of a different generation: Robert Redford. Pitt and co-star Craig Sheffer were Katie Couric’s guests on Today.

*The Today Show, interview October 8th, 1992*

Katie Couric: Now Brad, you’re one hot property now, after Thelma & Louise, you animal you, the sexy hitchhiker in Thelma & Louise. What was it that appealed to you about this movie when Robert Redford approached you or when you auditioned for the role?

Brad Pitt: Well, I actually heard about it a year before. And I heard Robert Redford was doing a film about two brothers in Montana. And it was those three elements right there.

KC: We got a clip of the movie and you can talk in a minute, this is a scene of where Brad, you’ve been thrown out a gambling den and Craig leaves with you, let’s take a look.

*Clip of A River Runs Through It*

KC: Brad, your character Paul…

BP: *Pats Craig on his leg* Good work fella *Smiles* Go on…

KC: Yea it was very nice. Your character Paul, or Paulie as I guess you were called when you were younger, is kind of a reckless wild guy isn’t he?

BP: Well yes definitely.

KC: Self destructive…

BP: Oh… I guess so… It’s just a fire for some more. Something a little more. Not even quite sure what it is but that it makes ya jump.

KC: Did you all have fun learning how to fly-fish?

*Brad and Craig both start laughing*

BP: If we got passed digging hooks out of the back our heads… I’m not kidding, it’s not easy.

KC: it’s hard isn’t it?

BP: It’s not easy. But let me tell you it is a metaphor in a sense that you get out on the river and you get the rod in your hand… people are drawn to that, they’re alone with their thoughts. But it can be anything is what I’m saying. When they say a metaphor; it could be you in your favorite spot reading a book it can be someone painting in the back yard, wherever that person goes to unwind. Yea… think. Okay?

KC: Okay.

BP: Okay.

*Back to the Time and Again studio*

Host: Okay, when we come back; Brad Pitt is pitted against Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire. And he co-stars with Anthony Hopkins, the first time around, in Legends Of The Fall.

*The Today Show, interview November 14th, 1994*

TTS Host: Today actor Brad Pitt’s fame has been primarily rooted for his golden locks and brilliant smile. And to becoming a major movie heart throb he started in films like; Thelma & Louise, A River Runs Through It. Well now in Interview With The Vampire, he’s taken on a role that he can literally sink his teeth into. The only problem is, his betrayal of Louis proved to be more that he bargained for. It put Pitt through a psychological rear the likes of what Brad says almost did him in.

Brad Pitt: Hated Louis.

TTS Host: Did you really?

BP: Hated doing Louis. Now listen, I loved this book going into it and I loved this Louis coming out of it but I gotta say, he messed with me a little bit. The character, yea.

TTS Host: Why did he mess with you?

BP: Well you got a guy here who’s stuck in this situation. First of all, he’s miserable from the beginning to the end. Now that’s the meaning towards him, I know.

TTS Host: But he’s depressed!

BP: Now 6 to 1 of that is not a good time. It’s not a happy time. But… Louis is trapped and he can’t get up, he can’t do anything and I’ve a hard time watching people, you know, who don’t take action. I kept wanting… you know? To get up and yell or stand or do something. This guy… he such a… he’s driving me crazy.

TTS Host: Did you know all that when you got into it?

BP: Nooo…

TTS Host: Did you know he was gonna be that tough?

BP: I knew he was gonna be. Listen, that was… I set out to find the hardest character I could find, I may bit off a little more than I can chew. But I got it all.

TTSH Host: But it got good reviews…

BP: Well, I got it down eventually. But it didn’t taste too well.

TTS Host: Really?

BP: Yea. Yea.

TTS Host: Your turns on this Brad are terrific, they’re particularly terrific for you. Have you allowed yourself the luxury of thinking about what it does for Brad Pitt’s career?

BP: … I guess you have to a bit. But. No, I haven’t. *Laughing*

TTS Host: Oh come on…

BP: I haven’t thought about it that much. Listen, I just can’t imagine not being able to walk in a thrifty buying a Reeses or something, you know? I don’t know.

TTS Host: The day is coming.

BP: I don’t know.

TTS Host: The day is coming, if it’s not already here.

BP: Listen, someone told me you’ll never be ready for birth, a marriage, death and fame. So, I don’t know.

Host: That was November 1994. Just six weeks later, Brad Pitt had another new movie out; Legends Of The Fall.

*Clip of Legends Of The Fall*

*The Today Show, interview December 28th, 1994*

Voice-over: Southern American West of the late 1800s. And moving into the new century through WW1 and the decades that follow, Legends Of The Fall is based on a short story by Jim Harrison. It is the time honored tale of family conflict, the stern patrician father Anthony Hopkins, the three very different sons, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn and Henry Thomas and the vibrant young woman who, although pledged to one son, affects all their lifes. Julia Ormond is the catalyst for tragic rivalry, turmoil and death.

*Clip of on the set of Legends of the Fall*

Voice-over: Legends Of The Fall’s director Edward Zwick’s second go-around in an epic like story since his Oscar winning war drama Glory, released in 1998. With the exception of recreating Helena, Montana in an older section of Vancouver, British Columbia, most of the movie was shot on the Stony Indian reserve outside of Calgary. Many of the emotions and passions of Legends centered around actor Brad Pitt whose star has been on the rise since Thelma & Louise, A River Runs Through It and currently in Interview With A Vampire. Here, Pitt co-star Anthony Hopkins and Zwick are working out a barroom confrontation scene. Now in the passions category there are love scenes with Julia Ormond. And the emotional rage that Pitt can bring to Zwick’s recreation of this WW1 battlefield, in which the three brothers confront the horror that shatters their idealism. Working with 800 extras in trenches dug in one square mile of Canadian prairie, Brad Pitt told me it was the sequence that affected him most.

Brad Pitt: It was much more than I even envisioned. Cause you see them on a page and then usually by that time it gets to here it gets whittled down, fake blood and all that but it was heavy. It was so precise with all these men, you know? With all the different units and the way they executed it. Boom! Boom! And, you know, war is horrifying and this was actually horrifying. It got me. It got into my dream.

*Clip of Thelma & Louise*

Voice-over: In case you’ve been under a rock lately, this is Brad Pitt. Ever since he hitched a ride with Geena Davis in the 1991 hit film Thelma & Louise, this golden boy’s star has been on the rise.

*Clip of Interview With The Vampire*

Voice-over: last yea he quenched his thirst as the reluctant blood sucker Louis, in the monster hit; Interview With The Vampire.

*The Today Show, interview March 6th, 1995*

Brad Pitt: Louis is trapped, he can’t get up, he can’t do anything, and I’ve a hard time watching people who don’t take action and I kept wanting, you know, to get up and yell or stand or do something. But that wasn’t the guy.

*Clip Legends Of The Fall*

Voice-over: Now Brad Pitt is home on the rage in the box office smash, Legends Of The Fall.

*Clip of magazine covers*

Voice-over: The real Brad sells magazines, like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, People, even Newsweek… yes Newsweek has an excuse to put him on the cover.

Interviewer: Well you can hardly pick up a magazine these days without seeing brad Pitt on the cover or reading something about him. What do you trigger his success to?

Maggie Murphy [Entertainment Weekly]: He’s a new face and we find that exciting and mysterious and women love his kinda movie star dreamy looks and I think men respond to his rock and roll persona. Brad Pitt is the king of the ultimate movie star.

*Clip of Jay Leno Show*

Jay Leno: Now the movie is about, it’s about a guy who brings his girlfriend home to meet his family right? And then she instantly falls in love with his brother who is played by Brad Pitt. This is why this movie is so ridiculous: if your brother is Brad Pitt: are you gonna bring your girlfriend home to meet him? I mean think about it: the guy is voted the sexiest guy in America and he goes; do you have any brothers? Me? No, I’m an only child! I don’t have any brothers! No I don’t.

Voice-over: Determined to find an answer to: who is Brad Pitt? Our quest took wings and we flew from New York to Springfield, Missouri: Brad Pitt’s hometown.

*Clip of Springfield, Missouri and pictures of young Brad*

Voice-over: This is where William Bradley Pitt grew up. The oldest of three siblings he sang in a church choir. And back in high school, his racket was tennis. On our first pit stop we caught up with close family friend Todd Edwards.

Todd Edwards: In high school he was the best dressed kid in school. Everything matched, you know the colors, everything. Hair was… pretty nice, you know? He just always looked… perfect.

Voice-over: Well… so much for his carefully crafted brunch image.

Jack Tuckness [Kickapoo High Debate Coach]: Brad had an all American look about fame and was always very courteous. He’d be the kind that would help the… his partner with her chair, and you know… the girls basically responded really well to him. Old ladies loved him.

*Clip with young Brad, high school period*

Jeff Wingo [Lived across the street]: Brad was always the blond, blue-eyed boy and he seemed to have a pretty easy go of getting women. You know, women where I would walk down the hall and see and thinking ‘Oh gosh, it would be so neat to have a date with her, or just stop by her locker and talk to her.’ And the next day I’d know Brad would’ve already asked her out and they’d gone out on a date.

Jim Sparks [Close family friend]: Course we grew up with the Pitt family, from when the kids were small and went to the lake a lot and one of the unusual things that, with Brad you know everybody else would be in their bathing suits and looked laky. And then you’d see Brad out on a jet-ski with big over-alls on *laughs* and farmers boots.

Jeff Wingo: We used to play pinball in the basement, listen to Elton John songs and sing along ‘crocodile rock’. We had every Elton John and in all our closets we had the Elton John posters and we had the Elton John glasses.

Over-voice: Well our search has taken us full circle and now it’s time to answer that burning question: ‘Who is Brad Pitt?’ and ‘Why is he so successful?’

Maggie Murphy [Entertainment Weekly]: It’s a combination of a very kind of soft pretty face and women find him sexy and women of all ages, teenagers to thirtysomethings, that’s unusual. And I think that’s what people are responding to.

Interviewer: Women love him and men want to emulate him.

Maggie Murphy: Women love him and men wanna be him. I think what else could you ask for in a movie star?

*Back to the Time and Again studio*

Host: What else indeed. Well a hit movie for one thing. Brad Pitt’s next few outings were box office disappointments. In 1997 he was teamed up with another super star Harrison Ford, we’ll be back with that and some final thoughts with Leonardo DiCaprio. When Time and Again continues.

*Interview The Today Show March 27th, 1997*

TTS Host: Let’s talk about the Devil’s Own, which is gonna be the movie people are talking about right now.

Brad Pitt: okay.

TTS Host: I understand you wanted to do this movie, even before a director had signed on, even before Harrison Ford was involved. What was it about the script that made you so interested?

BP: It’s nothing I could articulate. It was more of just a gut reaction. I read it close to 6-7 years ago I think and had always wanted to get it to Harrison and once we finally did he accepted and we were on the move.

TTS Host: What was it about Harrison Ford that made you want to be in a movie with him?

BP: Well I’ve always loved Harrison cause he… he’s a man of integrity and up on the screen there’s a, he seems to operate from this ground of common sense which is something that was instilled in me and I appreciate it and… truthfully he makes it look every day and that’s the toughest thing as an actor and so… *smiles* yea.

*Clip of The Devil’s Own*

TTS Host: You know… there have been some rumors about what life was like doing this.

BP: Yea sure sure.

TTS Host: And one of them is that you and Harrison were kinda *knocking knuckles against each other*

BP: Yea sure.

TTS Host: Did not quite see eye-to-eye. That you had a bit of.

BP: Yea there was all that and more I think.

TTS Host: True?

BP: No, in the press report. Oh it wasn’t true.

TTS Host: Oh come on Brad!

BP: No…

TTS Host: I mean, none of that?

BP: No *shaking his head*

TTS Host: That was just sorta created out of thin air?

BP: Well I gotta tell you. Well first of all we were operating from… we were pretty much putting this together as we went along and someone ran with this and, with this story about inflating egos or something I think it was conned. That bothered me a little bit I’ve to say because we were trying to put together something real and strong and we didn’t wanna put something, some kinda silliness out. And on top of, we had a responsibility for speaking for these people who, and families who’d been shattered from the troubles and you know, it’s important not to trivialize it or for it to become try so we were all, you know. We were all doing our best and we were having a good time over all and you know, it just got in the way this stuff.

*Back to the Time and Again studio*

Host: Brad Pitt may or may not be easy to work with but when it comes to his own work, the actor can be a harsh judge. Here’s a final word from Brad Pitt talking with NBC’s Elizabeth Farguss in 1996.

*Interview of January 5th, 1996*

Elizabeth Farguss: You’ve a reputation in the industry as being very difficult on yourself when it comes to critiquing your own work.

Brad Pitt: Really?

EF: In fact, you said in the movie A River Runs Through It, which a lot of people, it was your first major role, you carried the film, you said that was your weakest performance.

BP: Well I think it’s, it’s one of my favorite movies. But I think the point was that Redford made us better, he’s, he was the real star of the film. The way he put it together, the way he told the story. And he elevated us. No I don’t think it’s one of my strongest but the movie was bigger than anyone’s performance. I don’t feel I’m hard on myself at all. I think I’m very realistic about it.

EF: Really?

BP: I’m a good judge. Yea.

*back to the Time and Again studio*

Host: Being a good judge of one’s own work is a useful skill for an actor, particularly an actor who’s also a star. Told by everyone how great he is, how talented, how infallible. It helps to keep a level head.

Host: Leonardo DiCaprio like Brad Pitt became a star in part because he seemed to have no interest in becoming a star. Both have attempted to put art above cumberers. To put the craft of acting above the cult of celebrity. It has made them both rich and famous. That’s Time and Again for now. Thanks for joining us, I’m Jane Pauly, and we’re history.