Jean Black, a makeup artist who never gives interviews, talks about working with Brad Pitt and his famous face for almost 30 years, and what it is that makes him so special.
You’ve probably never heard of Jean Black but she’s been behind the scenes with Brad Pitt for over 27 years, a quiet cog in the machine that is his career—and an integral part of his personal life. Black is a makeup artist who has worked with Pitt on about 30 of his films (they recently counted it up for fun), all of his editorial shoots, and all of his red carpet events. Needless to say, a working relationship like this in Hollywood, the most fickle of towns and industries, is very very unusual.
Black’s relationship with Pitt is endearing. She talks about him like he’s a real, true friend because, well, that’s exactly what he is. She’s camped with him on a boulder for A River Runs Through It, trudged through mud for Fury, and been with him throughout his incredible personal and professional rollercoaster of a life. She’s had the kind of experience with a celebrity that just doesn’t exist for most normal people. She’s the one in the trailer with him, she’s the one holding cold spoons to his eyes when he’s tired and looks it, she’s there when he’s falling in love, and there when he’s getting divorced. And she has something (many things) to say about why Pitt is so lovable. Furthermore, she’s the ultimate authority on what exactly it is about Brad Pitt’s face that churns us all into a frenzy. Reluctant to take too much credit for her life’s work, Black insists that Pitt’s appeal is largely due to his charm—to some kind of magical charisma that he himself is not aware of. We talked to her about some of his most iconic movies, what it’s like to be friends with the ultimate celebrity, and how working with Pitt is the easiest job in Hollywood.
Category: BP Press
Summer is coming and, in America, that means it’s time to hit the national parks. So we took Brad Pitt and photographer Ryan McGinley tumbling across three of them: The Everglades, White Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns. Then we sat down with Pitt at home in L.A. for a raw conversation about how to move forward after things fall apart.
Brad Pitt is making matcha green tea on a cool morning in his old Craftsman in the Hollywood Hills, where he’s lived since 1994. There have been other properties in other places—including a château in France and homes in New Orleans and New York City—but this has always been his kids’ “childhood home,” he says. And even though they’re not here now, he’s decided it’s important that he is. Today the place is deeply silent, except for the snoring of his bulldog, Jacques.
Pitt wears a flannel shirt and skinny jeans that hang loose on his frame. Invisible to the eye is that sculpted bulk we’ve seen on film for a quarter-century. He looks like an L.A. dad on a juice cleanse, gearing up to do house projects. On the counter sit some plated goodies from Starbucks, which he doesn’t touch, and some coffee, which he does. Pitt, who exudes likability, general decency, and a sense of humor (dark and a little cockeyed), says he’s really gotten into making matcha lately, something a friend introduced him to. He loves the whole ritual of it. He deliberately sprinkles some green powder in a cup with a sifter, then pours in the boiling water, whisking with a bamboo brush, until the liquid is a harlequin froth. “You’re gonna love this,” he says, handing me the cup
• x031 GQ Photoshoot.
1. Brad Pitt is a plant murderer.
The worst kind, too. The kind who lets a plant starve to death. The evidence, at two opposing corners of his office in Beverly Hills; skeletal remnants that long gave up hope of ever being watered. He’s been away for 10 months, he says. An explanation, if not exactly an excuse. Regardless, I vow to expose his plant-murdering ways because the American public deserves to know, and besides, at 52 one should take whatever notoriety one can get.
I’m at Plan B, the film production company Pitt co-founded in 2001 and now owns, and I’ve decided to impress him with my knowledge of architecture, something he learned about while helping to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I figured I’d introduce him to Shigeru Ban, famous for his Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, and other disaster-relief projects around the world. But there, sitting on Pitt’s bookshelf, is an entire monograph of his work.
Near his record player are Joe Strummer’s albums with the Mescaleros, not a surprise, but also rare books on fringe culture, including Danny Lyon’s “The Bikeriders,” which are. This is a revelation not because Pitt is a megastar, which can lead to a certain out-of-touchness, but because he’s a father, and the first thing that goes after having kids is coolness. The first thing that comes are jorts. So when he gets up to shake my hand — dressed in a white T-shirt, white jeans and a white fedora — he seems more like the Dude than a dad.
• x008 NY Times.
• x037 Narrating passage from novel by Marlon James.
“People suffered as they did and yet no one was held accountable and nothing seemed to change,” says ‘The Big Short’ producer-actor.
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On the afternoon of Nov. 23, The Big Short is premiering in New York, just a cab ride away from the epicenter of the financial meltdown of the mid-2000s. The film’s Brad Pitt is livid that greed continues unfettered and justice is elusive. “It’s disgusting. It makes me angry,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the Wall Street-generated housing and credit bubble that left millions without a home due to foreclosure. “What I liked about the film is that it tries to explain to people how they got screwed.” Pitt, who also produced the $28 million film through his Plan B Entertainment, hopes the film spurs the public to question exactly how this happened. In a wide-ranging conversation, Pitt talks about why he opted for a small role, how comedy director Adam McKay won the job and whether or not he blames President Obama for the lack of accountability.
How did you become involved as a producer?
Well we got the book. We’re sitting on this great book by Michael Lewis, and it was a subject that I really wanted to take on — still wondering, questioning, angered by the fact that this whole collapse happened and people suffered as they did, and yet no one was held accountable and nothing seemed to change. And it’s true nothing has really changed. So we were lucky to win Michael’s book and we set about developing the script, so we started with Charles Randolph, and we got a really smart, insightful script but still, this kind of material is very, very difficult to get made these days. So I had met Adam McKay a few years prior. We were looking, talking about doing a film about Lee Atwater that he had developed. And I walked away completely charmed by him and absolutely impressed with his knowledge of global affairs and his wit. And my partners had been talking to him at the same time about something, and it just made sense. It just felt like the perfect [fit] if we could get Adam on. It would be the perfect kind of balance and delivery system for this kind of material. And it’s fair to say once it went through Adam’s filter, we really felt like we had our script, we had our story.
From Fight Club to family man, Brad Pitt tells Mick Brown how being a father of six has changed him as a man and as an actor
There was a time when Brad Pitt, like most people, would enter a hotel through the front door, but that hasn’t happened for the best part of 20 years. ‘I’m usually carted up the ass end,’ as he puts it. And so it is that here, as everywhere else, he has been denied the pleasures of a hotel lobby thronged with the svelte and the affluent – for this is a very swanky hotel indeed – and too the pleasures of taking a stroll on a sunny autumn morning unmolested, lending his fourth-floor room, luxurious as it is, a curious air of confinement.
It is an air somewhat exaggerated by the fact that, in his downbeat sweatshirt and tracksuit trousers, the Kangol cap pulled down low over his forehead, the straggly half-beard, Pitt looks less like you expect him to look and more like a man attempting to disguise himself as his own minder.
In fact, Pitt’s minder is outside in the corridor, an imposing presence, standing quietly beside the gaggle of clipboard-wielding publicists. He is perhaps less a precautionary measure for Pitt – who with his muscled 6ft frame appears perfectly capable of looking after himself – than for his wife, Angelina Jolie, who is in an adjacent room being interrogated by a handful of European journalists.Being the most recognised show-business couple in the world has its own perils and disadvantages.
Pitt walks over to turn off the air conditioning and reaches for two bottles of water. He is a courteous man, his manner attentive and earnest. Very earnest. He is in London for discussions about his latest project as a producer, ‘a satire about the war in Afghanistan’ (he does not elaborate), but mostly to talk about his role in By the Sea, a new film written by, directed by and co-starring Jolie.
Adam McKay’s new financial-apocalypse comedy The Big Short — the subject of this week’s Vulture cover story — was produced by Brad Pitt, who also took a small role in the film to help ensure the production got properly funded. Here, Pitt talks about his sideline as a genuine prestige-movie mogul (with his company Plan B), what it means to team up with author Michael Lewis again, and his personal outrage in 2008.
Lately it seems like there are a lot of actors with production companies adapting books — you, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon. Do things get competitive? For instance, your company, Plan B, recently outbid your pal George Clooney on Law of the Jungle.
In all fairness, he outbid me on Argo. But, yeah, it can get competitive. We do naturally have a lot of the same tastes and interests. With The Big Short, I think maybe we got the upper hand at auction because Michael Lewis and I got tight on Moneyball.
Plan B also has a really good track record of getting movies actually made. What’s your secret?
I was weaned on the films of the ’70s, and a lot of the films we make are inspired by those. But the plain truth of it all is that these kinds of movies are hard to make. The studios don’t want to make them because it doesn’t fit the business model anymore. It’s complicated material, it’s a gamble. They need some guarantee with marquee. So often I jump in and take a part first because I love the project, and I gotta get in to make sure it gets made. Then, when Steve Carell and Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling all jump in, I think it is a testament to the subject matter, and the story, and to Adam McKay’s script.
The origin story of the collection of angular, brightly painted homes called Make It Right has become a piece of New Orleans lore. The Lower 9th Ward neighborhood near the Claiborne Avenue bridge was more or less wiped out by floodwater surging through a gap in the levee wall in 2005. Then, as if by Hollywood magic, Brad Pitt appeared to attempt to rebuild it. At the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the flood, 109 homes stand where there once was only mud and wreckage. More homes are on the way.
“I’ll tell you, every time I drive over the Claiborne bridge, no matter what frustration I might be dealing with at the moment, I get this well of pride when I see this little oasis of color and the solar panels,” Pitt said in a telephone conversation Friday (Aug. 15) from Los Angeles.
An ecologist, architecture enthusiast and part-time New Orleans resident, Pitt called on the top building designers of the region, nation and world to draw up houses with striking appearances that married advanced environmental practices with affordable building methods. He also founded a nonprofit organization to see that those design gems rose on the empty landscape.
“I drive into the neighborhood and I see people on their porch,” Pitt said, “and I ask them how is their house treating them? And they say, ‘Good.’ And I say what’s your utility bill? And they’ll throw something out like, ’24 bucks’ or something, and I feel fantastic. It’s a reminder of why we’re there. It’s a reminder of why we push like we push. It makes it all worthwhile.”
• x001 Magazines – The Times Picayune.