Made over seven years and in partnership with Pitt’s production company Plan B, Boynton’s film tracks American oil company execs and African politicians as they negotiate a drilling deal that could benefit everyone except the local population.
On Wednesday night, following a Los Angeles screening of Rachel Boynton’s documentary Big Men — an edge-of-your-seat film that offers an unprecedented inside look at how American oil companies and African governments interact when oil is discovered in Africa — The Hollywood Reporter met up with Boynton and one of the film’s executive producers, Brad Pitt, to discuss how the project came together and what they hope people will take away from it.
Boynton spent seven years of her life making the film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, screened theatrically last year (unfortunately rendering it ineligible for Oscar consideration this year) and is now playing in select theaters across the nation.
It seems to be the hope of Boynton and Pitt — whose Plan B production company champions films of social value, such as this year’s best picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave — that Big Men will raise awareness and bring about reforms that will benefit the people of African nations who have heretofore rarely shared in the profits of the discoveries of oil within their borders.
Just ask Brad Pitt. He has spent weeks running on it, circling the globe, crashing movie theaters and introducing audiences to his mega-zombie thriller World War Z, in theaters today.
After years of being “drawn to the smaller, more intimate films,” like Tree of Life and Killing Them Softly, Pitt has done an about-face with World War Z. “It’s a monster of a film,” he says, made for two young zombie fans: his oldest boys with Angelina Jolie, Maddox, 11 and Pax, 9.
The popcorn flick hits theaters six months after its original release date, thanks to reshoots and a newly scripted ending. But if you were expecting Pitt to hedge about the sweat equity involved in finally releasing this morphing 3-D blockbuster, you’ve got the wrong man.
“Listen, I’m pretty proud of this film,” he says on a warm Los Angeles afternoon in May, dressed in black and hair tied back, those famous blue eyes twinkling. “I’ve really enjoyed especially this last six months, getting back in there and fixing it.”
More on that later. In War Z, Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator confronted by a raging worldwide pandemic of rabid zombies. This is apocalypse by extinction, and Lane is forced to leave his wife (the Globe and Emmy-nominated Mireille Enos) and two daughters to combat a threat multiplying by the hour.
Even among zombies, Gerry Lane might be the most relatable character Pitt has played in years: a father as tough as Bourne but fairly fallible, steadfast as Bond, yet hardly as skilled. “He’s someone who has special skills and has been in war zones, and crisis was his background. But at the same time he’s this everyman,” says director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).
“Gerry Lane,” Pitt chuckles. “One of the worst names in film ever. It was appropriate. I don’t know why it’s appropriate. Gerry with a ‘G’. He’s the anti-action hero. It’s an anti-action hero name.”
Actors Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Vance, director David Ayer, set coordinator Owen Thornton and co-producer Alex Ott from the movie, Fury, visited the National Training Center, June 26 – 28. This visit allowed the actors and crew to speak with Soldiers about their shared experiences and the intricacies of being a part of a tank crew.
Read more. Thanks also Nikki. Filming will take place in the UK and starts September, as far as I know.
PS. Also spotted what seems to be a new tattoo for our Brad. PS2. The BP Press Archive was updated by yours truly this week, along with the BP Media Archive (Talkshows ’13 & World War Z). More will get done this week.
Just hours before a Tuesday afternoon interview with USA TODAY, his partner Angelina Jolie revealed in a New York Times op-ed that she has undergone a double mastectomy and reconstruction after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which doctors estimated gave her an 87% chance of developing breast cancer.
How is Pitt feeling? “I’m quite emotional about it, of course,” said the World War Z star. “She could have stayed absolutely private about it and I don’t think anyone would have been none the wiser with such good results. But it was really important to her to share the story and that others would understand it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be an empowering thing, and something that makes you stronger and us stronger.”
When I met Brad Pitt the day after Easter, he was so tired that he was perhaps more reflective than usual. He had just finished a week of spring break with his family. He had camped out with them the night before on his property north of Santa Barbara, and he had woken up, he said, too early, as well as too wet. They had slept in tents, four of his six children, along with two of their friends, and then he had gotten all of them in a van and driven them down to LA.
“Angie too?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Angie too.”
I told him that I’d met her a few years before, when I profiled her for Esquire. She was making a movie about the wife of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, and the thesis of my story was that while 9/11 was supposed to make us all better — a better country and a better people — it only worked for Angelina Jolie. The story has won a kind of immortality as “The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written,” and when I told that to Angelina Jolie’s partner, he at first laughed and said that he hoped Esquire would use that as the title of the profile I was writing about him. Then he got serious. “But you were right,” he said. “You were right, you were right. Angie is….the best person…..”
Read more. Tom Junod’s profile of Brad Pitt will appear in the June/July issue of Esquire, which is on newsstands at the end of the month.
Today, with very little effort, anyone can land in virtually any city in this country, and within a day or two, procure their drug of choice. Since declaring a war on drugs 40 years ago, the United States has spent more than a trillion dollars, arrested more than 45 million people, and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world. Yet it remains laughably easy to obtain illegal drugs. So why do we continue down this same path? Why do we talk about the drug war as if it’s a success? It’s a charade.
The drug war continues because it is a system that perpetuates itself. On a local level, any time a bust is made, scarcity drives up prices and, of course, the profit potential. History has taught us that there is no shortage of opportunists willing to fill the void and so the cycle continues and rates of drug use and dealing remain unchanged while incarceration skyrockets.
Brad Pitt bounds into a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, doles out a quick handshake that turns into a hug, and sprints to one of the three windows in the room. He pulls open the curtains and looks at the sleet and rain hammering Manhattan 29 floors below him. Like any commuter, Pitt is concerned about annoying travel delays and getting to work on time.
“I gotta get out of here. I go straight to set,” he says, referring to the London re-shoots of the zombie flick World War Z. “I just buzzed in and am buzzing out. I hit the plane this afternoon.”
Yes, this is what the most famous actor in the world is really like. Shockingly, weirdly, almost off-puttingly accessible. Once you get past the thick layers of security – necessary, as evidenced by a hotel employee who had earlier flipped out in ecstasy after seeing Pitt in person – and peel back all your expectations, fed by years of panting tabloid coverage of everything Pitt, you meet a guy who’s friendly, a bit tired, and exceedingly pleasant.
“He’s the most normal guy. I spent a lot of time with him on those Ocean’s movies – he doesn’t do anything to drum up that insanity. He lives in the middle of that and he’s somehow found a way to not go crazy. He’s not crazy,” confirms his friend Matt Damon, who had just seen Pitt. “I don’t know if that’s his family or his upbringing and now it’s become his children and his wife. It’s incredible – seeing him yesterday, he’s the same great guy from Missouri. I don’t understand how he keeps doing great work. It would seem to me that you would lose your ability to be a human being. I genuinely don’t know how he’s still such a great guy, such a real guy.”
The face is hardly wrinkled and the long blond locks appear unchanged, but Brad Pitt, who will turn 49 in December, is increasingly preoccupied with the passage of time and the thought that his rarefied place in movies is fleeting.
It’s now been more than 20 years since Pitt broke out as the heartthrob of “Thelma & Louise.” While nothing has diminished his status as one of the few genuine movie stars on the planet, Pitt says he’s now working as if an expiration date lurks.
“I’m definitely past halfway,” says Pitt. “I think about it very much as a father. You just want to be around to see (your children) do everything. If I have so many days left, how am I filling those days? I’ve been agonizing over that one a bit like I never have before.”
But that sense of urgency has helped fuel some of Pitt’s best, most daring work, including his new film, “Killing Them Softly.” It’s his second with Andrew Dominik, the New Zealand-born director of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” In the adaption of George V. Higgins’ 1974 crime novel, “Cogan’s Trade,” Pitt plays a hit man operating in a shabby underworld of image-conscious gangsters.
It’s almost surprising how few blockbusters Pitt has starred in over the last decade. Instead, he’s gravitated toward working with revered directors like Terrence Malick (“Tree of Life”) and the Coen brothers, and shaping his opportunities by producing them. His production company, Plan B, produced both “Jesse James” and “Killing Them Softly,” as well as many of his films in between.
Brad Pitt took a few minutes with WWNO reporter Eileen Fleming to review the status of the Make it Right project he founded in the Lower Ninth Ward. Before hosting a fundraiser, he spent some time in the neighborhood.
For my meeting with Brad Pitt for a 15-minute interview, I drove as instructed to a nearly complete home in the Make it Right neighborhood in Lower Ninth Ward. Security allowed me in, and I was shown to an empty back room where Brad Pitt was sitting by himself, behind a bare, simple fold-out table.
Q. “It is nice and echo-y in here because this is a brand new…
A. “ They’re so air tight that, I mean, you can’t hear – Claiborne’s right there and you cannot, you can’t hear it.”
Read more. Notice the interview comes in two great parts. You can also download and listen to the audio version of both interviews, go check the BP Media archive for that!
The day before he hosted a star-studded fundraising event for his Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans, actor Brad Pitt took time for an interview with writer Kathy Finn, for a Reuters news story. In addition to comments that appeared in that story, Pitt shared other thoughts about affordable housing, Make It Right and New Orleans. Here are some highlights.
Q. You launched Make It Right in 2007 with a goal of building 150 energy-efficient, environmentally friendly houses for Lower Ninth Ward residents whose homes were destroyed in the Hurricane Katrina flood. You’ve now built more than 75 homes. How does it feel to see this progress?
A. We’ve been there four years now, so I’ve gotten to know and care for a lot of the people. It’s amazing, their heroics, their courage to come back to the scene of the crime, so to speak. It’s really moving. You hear their stories and what they’ve been through, and even the decades of being marginalized before [Katrina]. And now this place that was [seen as] the least likely to come back, is the foremost high-performance [environmentally sustainable] neighborhood in the country. It’s a story I get very excited about.
The video in the post before this one shows the whole segment that was broadcasted. What a lovely video to watch. Thanks to Hallie we have this great still of the show and the transcript. Thank you! Photocredit to Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Pitt walk through the lower ninth ward in New Orleans and discuss the progress of “Make It Right” airing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Tuesday, March 20th. Brad on New Orleans and “Make it Right”
Ellen: Let me start from the beginning. Lets start from when you first fell in love with New Orleans. Where were you? What year?
Brad: Early 90’s and it was a bit of a blur because New Orleans will do that to you.
Ellen: I don’t remember last night.
Brad: Yeah I understand. I fell in love with the place. The people. The music. It’s in the air. It’s something you can’t describe on camera.
Brad Pitt recently spoke with Variety’s Christy Grosz about his work on two best picture Oscar nominees, “Moneyball” and “The Tree of Life,” and collaborating with one of the most reclusive directors in the business.
How did Terrence Malick convey his concepts for “Tree of Life” to you as an actor?
He would come in with three pages of single-spaced thoughts and maybe some dialogue. What he does is he gets up in the morning and just bangs on the typewriter for an hour, ideas for the day’s work. I learned as an actor to pick a few things from that consciousness notebook that he would give me, and I would start to build something around that.
He starts with a very dense script but (uses) that as a spring board to capture those truthful missteps. He would do stuff like push Chivo (cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki) before a shot just to put him off balance. We were in the car doing what I thought was a very important scene and all of a sudden he threw the dog in the front seat to create this chaos.
How did that work with the young actors? I know the dialogue, at least as it is written, and Jessica (Chastain) knows the dialogue, but the boys don’t. He may tell them right before a scene, give them a response to aim for, but it’s very free form.
We sit in silent “Fiji” water in the Gulf of Mexico. Swim out and waving his children: “There is nothing that changes your life more than being a father. It’s such a wonderful change your life perspectives. Everything is relative. I would never trade youth for wisdom that I learn every day and go for it!”
He is considering a 50 step down from the canvas: “I want to realize many important projects.”
BILD: You have gray hair. Fear of old age? “Grey I’m already long, I’m afraid of dying, but not before getting old.”
You can lead a normal life?
He laughs and itches his chin. “What is normal? You have to enjoy it. In New Orleans we can walk. I love the variety of noises and there to open a window and the feeling to hear the music. And to drink a beer on the balcony.”
They love Europe? “Yes. Our fortress is our castle in France. Since we have our own protected world. A little paradise.”
Read more. Thanks Gabriella. Translation credit to Hefi!
The superstar with multiple Oscar nominations has everything: a brilliant career, a partner he wants to marry and, in “Moneyball,” a seeming disaster he turned into a masterpiece. Still, Hollywood’s producer-actor confesses to earlier bouts of depression and a relentless need to question just about everything (himself included): “This idea of perpetual happiness is crazy and overrated.”
Try to set up an interview with Brad Pitt, and you instantly plunge into his almost Dada-esque world.
After all, where do you go? A restaurant rendezvous would devolve into a scrum of gawkers and gapers; his suggestion that we meet at this reporter’s office creates such a stir among jaded journalists, it is rapidly nixed; and Pitt’s house in the Hollywood Hills is apparently out of bounds, reserved for his partner, Angelina Jolie, and their six kids — and those inquiring minds eager to know about a decapitated head found nearby only days before.
So it is, like participants in the witness protection program, that we find ourselves ensconced in a 14th-floor suite at Hollywood’s W Hotel this Jan. 20 — chosen because Pitt’s Cadillac Escalade can make a quick in-and-out to avoid the paparazzi thirsting to behold him.
Pitt doesn’t blame them. Media reports surfaced hours earlier that police had interviewed his bodyguard about human limbs scattered near the Hollywood sign. Still, he can’t help being bemused. “I was watching CNN, and they said, ‘Brad Pitt’s home!’ and, ‘Brad Pitt’s bodyguard!’ “ he laughs in disbelief. “I’m like: ‘Why? Why?’ “
If one facet of Brad Pitt could be considered obscure, it might be — oddly enough — his acting career.
For much of his two decades in the spotlight — since his breakthrough as a sweet-talking grifter in Thelma and Louise (1991) and even more so since Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) — Pitt has been a star first and an actor second. His every move — often with a hard-to-miss entourage that includes his partner, Angelina Jolie, and their six children — provides endless fodder for the tabloids.
But the Brad Pitt on-screen remains elusive.
The contradiction can be summed up like this: Pitt is a superstar who also happens to be a wild card. He has steered clear of action franchises and romantic comedies. Although he hasn’t shied from big roles — they don’t come much bigger than Achilles (Troy) or Death (Meet Joe Black) — he has often sought the cover and camaraderie of ensembles, as in the Ocean’s movies and Inglourious Basterds (which are among his highest-grossing hits).
People seldom talk about his range, but he’s equally capable of flamboyance (12 Monkeys) and restraint (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). And some of his most intriguing films (Fight Club, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) are self-referential comments on his obvious magnetism.