The Many Revolutions of Brad Pitt

 Frank W. Ockenfels 3

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What they hear about instead is the Jolie-Pitt brood, and Pitt is at his most passionate when speaking of his kids.

Having children, he says, has been "the most grounding thing." Would he have more? "We haven't closed the book on it. There's a really nice balance in the house right now, but if we see the need and get that lightning bolt that says, 'We can help this person; we could do something here,' then absolutely."

It was while carrying Vivienne -- one of his children, many adopted, whose ages range from 3 to 10 -- that Pitt fell and hurt his knee, causing him to walk with the cane his friend George Clooney spoofed during the Golden Globes.

It wasn't a skiing accident, contrary to reports. "I think George went down the line, making things up," Pitt laughs. "I was just walking in our backyard, on a hill, carrying my daughter, and I slipped -- and it was those parental instincts: me or her. And she's fine."

The cane is nowhere to be seen today, and he jokes about how his children kept stealing it until he gave them canes of their own. He still wears a leg brace, its outline visible under his gray pants, and can talk in great detail about how "I just tweaked this MCL [medial collateral ligament] -- I got a whole tutorial. I know all about the knee." He'll wear the brace another month before commencing physical therapy.

As for the children, they're home-schooled because "we travel a lot. We were with a program that we could plug in internationally. But it wasn't the same standard everywhere, and we wanted to be able to tailor something to our kids; they're such individuals."

It's partly because of them that he's learning French, and also because of that need he has to keep reaching for more.

"I'm frustrated going to other countries and not being able to converse with everyone, and we're trying to spend some time in Europe and use that as a hub," he says. "I want my kids to have the gift of other languages; it wasn't an emphasis where I grew up. But those synapses close down -- they're fused shut and I'm trying like mad to open them again."

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