The Many Revolutions of Brad Pitt

 Frank W. Ockenfels 3

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."


These interests and passions can pull him in a million directions, and he admits to occasional indecisiveness, an area where he points out Jolie's influence. "She's very quick, she's very decisive -- and that's had a great effect on me. It's her decisiveness that I have so much respect for."

Jolie's unseen presence makes itself felt throughout our conversation, and his love for her is unmistakable. But the notion that she's somehow reshaped this highly thoughtful man is a myth -- at least, any more than he's reshaped her. Like her, he wants to do work that survives; like her, he is committed to the world at large. Unlike her, he claims to have no gift for the gab.

"My great frustration is, I can't explain what I'm trying to explain!" he sighs, throwing up his hands. "I've got the vocabulary of a public school education and the grammar of an eighth-grader."

It's not true, not the tiniest bit, but just one aspect of a man constantly questioning himself, only "satisfied in not being satisfied."

In his life and in his work, he is forever stretching boundaries -- as he will in his upcoming films World War Z and Twelve Years a Slave.

The former, based on the Max Brooks book about a global zombie war -- and the first of a planned franchise -- drew him because "I thought it was an interesting experiment. I thought, 'Can we take this genre movie and use it as a Trojan horse for social-political problems?' "

The latter, to be filmed by Shame helmer Steve McQueen, tells the story of "a free black man in the north who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. I'm only doing a small cameo, but it stars Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor and there've been very few movies about slavery, certainly that had the impact of Roots."

Having such an impact is at the heart of everything he does, and it's much more important to him than conventional happiness.

"This idea of perpetual happiness is crazy and overrated, because those dark moments fuel you for the next bright moments; each one helps you appreciate the other," he says. "We are all searching for meaning in our lives, love and betterment for ourselves and those around us."

PITT'S FAVORITE FILMS: Pitt can cite shot by shot from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, but it's the films of the 1970s that most influenced his Moneyball.

  • Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  • The Godfather Parts I and II (1972 and 1974)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  • All the President's Men (1976)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)


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