Russell Hammond in “Almost Famous” is one of Billy Crudup’s career-defining roles, but there was a four-month period where writer-director Cameron Crowe worked with Brad Pitt developing the character. Pitt was Crowe and casting director Gail Levin’s first choice for the role. When young Patrick Fugit got to the screen test round of auditions to play protagonist William Miller, Brad Pitt was still attached to the role. Fugit recently spoke to Uproxx about his first meeting with Pitt.
“I went in and Cameron introduced me to Brad,” Fugit said. “He was sitting in Cameron’s office and Brad could tell I was nervous, but I was also excited to get into things. Brad started talking about PlayStation, and he was like, ‘Hey, man, I’ve been playing this game, ‘Cool Boarders.’ Do you play ‘Cool Boarders?” I, by the way, had been playing a fuck load of ‘Cool Boarders.’ So I was like, ‘Well, Mr. Pitt, I can do these tricks.’ And he was like, ‘Wow, you can land that trick? I’ve only got this one and that one.’ And he’s like, ‘You’ve got to show me how to land that trick.’ Just loosening me up and geeking out about ‘Cool Boarders,’ but really just spending the time to get to know me, make me feel comfortable and that sort of thing.”
Fugit continued, “By the way, Cameron had left the room. He sort of introduced us and he left the room and let us talk for about 15 minutes. Then he came back in and it was time to do some scene work. I remember it being a lot of fun. And then, I think by that time, Kate Hudson was being considered for Penny. I did a screen test with Kate and we did some scenes together and then I flew back to Utah.”
Mention of young Brad in a Newsweek interview with known photographer Chris Cuffaro.
“Young talent who think they’re a star because they’ve filmed one TV show—those people aren’t famous now. I shot Brad Pitt before Thelma and Louise came out. We hung out at my apartment all day laughing and took some pictures. He was the nicest guy in the world. I can see, to this day, why he is where he is. He had a solid foundation and he was a good guy. It was the same with George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston. I could drop names for days of people I shot before they became big stars and names of people who didn’t make it. The difference between them is that the successful ones were genuinely good people to begin with. George Clooney and I used to play basketball, and he didn’t take himself too seriously. He just wanted to be an actor. I understand why he’s become a director, a producer and everything else, because he also has a great work ethic.”
My father, a voice coach, worked on the Michael Collins movie and I remember hearing ‘de Valera’ make his big speech in the crowd. Irish film is a passion to this day. I don’t like dropping names but I also met Brad Pitt who stayed at our house for a bit. My brother Andy was a toddler and they played on the floor. But all I was interested in, as I was obsessed with Oasis, was whether he’d met Liam Gallagher.
And what about Meet Joe Black, the 1998 film you made with Brad Pitt?
That holds a very special place in the heart of a few staff members here at Stellar. It was good. I’d worked with Brad a couple of years prior in Legends Of The Fall. He is such a lovely man, an easy guy to work with. A real perfectionist.
Brad is mentioned in a great interview with David Fincher, one of his close friends. Read the entire interview at the link or just the Brad mentions below.
Brad Pitt, who has starred in three Fincher films, recalled times when they would “be doing a shot, and there would be the slightest imperceptible wiggle from the camera, and you could see Finch literally tense up — like, it physically hurts him.”
Brad Pitt, who calls Fincher one of “the funniest [expletive] I’ve ever met,” often gets together with him for movie nights, during which, Pitt said, “He’ll be muttering the whole time: ‘That shot works. That’s a bad handoff. Why would you go to the insert of the glove there? Stabilize!’ It’s like watching a football game with Bill Belichick.” (Fincher described playing his favorite video game, Madden NFL, as “the only time I’m not thinking about movies.”)
Brad Pitt told me that after his first meeting to discuss “Se7en” with Fincher, he “felt such a sense of relief and awe and love of film again.”
“When Melissa McCarthy suggested unlacquered brass finishes, we knew we were dealing with someone who’s done this before. Brad [Pitt] is also obsessed with architecture and real estate. He not only walks the walk, he talks the talk.”
What was the most challenging project of the season?
“Though there are many similarities to our other shows, like Property Bros: Forever Home, I think the timeline was the most challenging part. With Brad Pitt’s episode, we had to pull everything off in under three weeks—essentially creating a completely self-contained detached-dwelling unit with all of the amenities in that time frame—in Los Angeles, no less. We may be certifiable.”
In “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” Leonardo DiCaprio plays a struggling actor who can only dream of being nominated for an Academy Award. He has to fight for good parts, is never recognized for industry accolades and is forced to travel overseas to get work.
You and costar Brad Pitt seem to have grown especially close on the awards trail. How has your friendship evolved since filming?
Both of us connected with the relationship that the two characters have in the film — the support system they have for one another. Having grown up in this industry around the same time and places, we just clicked into these people. It was a really natural, implicit understanding. It was amazing working with Brad.
At the Golden Globes this month, he cracked that he thought Jack should’ve shared the life raft with Rose at the end of “Titanic.” Were you surprised by the depth of his “Titanic” knowledge?
He always comes prepared with some good quip on stage — especially the last-minute ones.