Brad Pitt speaks. Brad Pitt has done his first magazine cover in… what’s probably a year or so. Brad did not do any big sit-down interviews when promoting Allied last fall, but now he’s promoting War Machine and trying to massage his image, thus he appears on the new issue of GQ Style. The editorial is striking – GQ Style took Brad to three of America’s greatest national parks, the Everglades, White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns, and that was the shoot. Brad actually looks like he was aiming for tearful and vulnerable in the photos. The actual interview was conducted at Brad’s Hollywood Hills home, which is really part of a large compound of homes that he owns in Los Feliz, having bought the surrounding properties over the years. Brad describes the home as his kids’ “childhood home.” You can read the full piece here and I would recommend it. Some highlights:
The one mention of Angelina by name: He references her Cambodia movie, First They Killed My Father, saying “You should see Angie’s film.”
On playing conceited characters: “It makes me laugh. Any of my foibles are born from my own hubris. Always, always. Anytime. I famously step in sh-t—at least for me it seems pretty epic. I often wind up with a smelly foot in my mouth. I often say the wrong thing, often in the wrong place and time. Often.”
Playing characters in pain: “Yeah, I’m kind of done playing those. I think it was more pain tourism. It was still an avoidance in some way. I’ve never heard anyone laugh bigger than an African mother who’s lost nine family members. What is that? I just got R&B for the first time. R&B comes from great pain, but it’s a celebration. To me, it’s embracing what’s left. It’s that African woman being able to laugh much more boisterously than I’ve ever been able to.
Therapy: “You know, I just started therapy. I love it, I love it. I went through two therapists to get to the right one.
Whether he would have eventually gotten to this place: “I think it would have come knocking, no matter what.
It’s not a mid-life crisis: “I do remember a few spots along the road where I’ve become absolutely tired of myself. And this is a big one. These moments have always been a huge generator for change. And I’m quite grateful for it. But me, personally, I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something. And you realize that a lot of it is, um—cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings. I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem. And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.
Drinking wine: “I mean, we have a winery. I enjoy wine very, very much, but I just ran it to the ground. I had to step away for a minute. And truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good…. [now I] Don’t want to live that way anymore…. But the terrible thing is I tend to run things into the ground. That’s why I’ve got to make something so calamitous. I’ve got to run it off a cliff. I do it with everything, yeah. I exhaust it, and then I walk away. I’ve always looked at things in seasons, compartmentalized them, I guess, seasons or semesters or tenures or…
His weaknesses: “For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street. I’m an a–hole when it comes to this need for justice. I don’t know where it comes from, this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight. I can drill on that for days and years. It’s done me no good whatsoever. It’s such a silly idea, the idea that the world is fair. And this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I’m well aware of that. I hit the lottery, and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits.
Staring himself down: “Sitting with those horrible feelings, and needing to understand them, and putting them into place. In the end, you find: I am those things I don’t like. That is a part of me. I can’t deny that. I have to accept that. And in fact, I have to embrace that. I need to face that and take care of that. Because by denying it, I deny myself. I am those mistakes. For me every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy…. And by the way: There’s no love without loss. It’s a package deal.
He wasn’t raised to discuss his emotions: “I come from a place where, you know, it’s strength if we get a bruise or cut or ailment we don’t discuss it, we just deal with it. We just go on. The downside of that is it’s the same with our emotion. I’m personally very retarded when it comes to taking inventory of my emotions. I’m much better at covering up. I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality—the father is all-powerful, super strong—instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it.”
Being investigated by Child Services: “It was all that for a while. I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. And you know, after that, we’ve been able to work together to sort this out. We’re both doing our best. I heard one lawyer say, “No one wins in court—it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.” And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees. It’s just very, very jarring for the kids, to suddenly have their family ripped apart. If anyone can make sense of it, we have to with great care and delicacy, building everything around that.
The narrative: “What did Churchill say? History will be kind to me: I know because I’ll write it myself. I don’t really care about protecting the narrative. That’s when I get a bit pessimistic, I get in my oh-it-all-goes-away-anyway kind of thinking. But I know the people who love me know me. And that’s enough for me.
Setting Angelina free: “And then you’ve got a cliché: “If you love someone, set them free.” Now I know what it means, by feeling it. It means to love without ownership. It means expecting nothing in return. But it sounds good written. It sounds good when Sting sings it. It doesn’t mean f-ck-all to me until, you know—Until you live it. That’s why I never understood growing up with Christianity—don’t do this, don’t do that—it’s all about don’ts, and I was like how the f-ck do you know who you are and what works for you if you don’t find out where the edge is, where’s your line? You’ve got to step over it to know where it is.
There is so much in this interview that I didn’t even get to because there was so much I wanted to excerpt. At the beginning of the piece, Brad refers to his current situation as “self-inflicted” and throughout the interview, he’s taking the blame consistently and yet… managing to not be specific at all about what he actually did. The alcohol was clearly a huge problem, but he’s making references to his anger and realizing that he has become what he hated and more. I don’t know. I think he comes across well here, but I also think he comes across like a movie star who has been one of the most PR-savvy men on the planet for decades.
Photos courtesy of Ryan McGinley exclusively for GQ Style.