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Feature: Brad Pitt
With the release of Mr & Mrs Smith on DVD & video, the star talks about his life, career and why being a good actor is always better than being a good celebrity
Brad Pitt has come a long way since he first appeared on the big screen nearly two decades ago. Back then his first major role – that of the improbably named Dwight Ingalls in teen Horror movie Cutting Class – earned him $12,000. Nowadays he is a firm fixture in the Hollywood A-list and, as such, can easily command the $20 million he earned for his last box-office smash Mr and Mrs Smith. Not bad for a boy from small town Oklahoma.
When William Bradley Pitt was born in the American mid West in 1963, to a trucking firm manager father and a guidance counsellor mother, Hollywood seemed a million miles away. Throwing himself into high school life, the youngster was involved in sports activities, debating, student government and musical drama. He went on to attend the University of Missouri, where he majored in journalism with a focus on a career in advertising. His occasional acting in fraternity drama shows whetted his appetite for the limelight, however, and leaving university shortly before graduating he moved to California to pursue his dreams. Supporting himself by working as a limo driver, a refrigerator mover and a giant chicken, he threw himself into his acting, taking lessons and joining community theatre groups. After securing uncredited bit parts in a couple of forgettable features, and a small role in soap opera Another World, Pitt auditioned for his first major role; that of JD in the 1988 cult classic Heathers. Although his talent was undeniable, casting directors deemed him too sweet for the teen rebel role that eventually went to Christian Slater. Undeterred he kept at it, finally securing his first starring role in Cutting Class – but it would be another two years before he got the break that he needed.
In1991, Pitt was cast as cowboy stud JD in female road movie Thelma and Louise. Although his character was a mere plot point on the women’s journey, and he had a total of 14 minutes of screen time, Pitt’s smouldering charm and James Dean-esque laid back talent made the character the most memorable and exciting thing about the whole film. It certainly made Hollywood executives sit up and take notice as, from that moment on, Pitt turned from jobbing bit part actor to movie star.
Now, almost 15 years later, Pitt has held on to that title. Speaking with him as his latest blockbuster Mr and Mrs Smith – in which he plays one half of an ordinary married couple who are both secretly top-class assassins hired to kill each other – is released on DVD, he’s had plenty of time to deal with the pressures of fame. “I don’t feel like I’m in a cage,” he laughs. “Maybe I feel more cut-off from the herd than anything – a lone gazelle with the lions. But I don’t feel constrained in my personal life by what I do professionally at all. I don’t feel limitations as a result of what I do. The goal is to stay an artist and not a personality.”
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