Over the weekend, the Guardian published their lengthy interview with Angelina Jolie, which she did to promote the book she co-wrote, Know Your Rights. In the interview, Angelina spoke at length quite emotionally about how difficult the past five years have been, and how much it hurt her when Brad Pitt chose to work with Harvey Weinstein on Inglorious Basterds and Killing Them Softly. Pitt chose the association with Weinstein knowing what Weinstein did to not only Angelina, but Gwyneth Paltrow too. “Sources close to Brad” told TMZ that Pitt never “teamed up” with Weinstein for Basterds, that Brad was just an actor for hire and he wanted to work with Quentin Tarantino.
Well, a lot of us called bullsh-t. And for good reason – Pitt has been actively trying to get people to forget about his Weinstein associations for years. The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern tweeted out a link to his old 2017 story about the Pitt-Weinstein association and Stern noted: “I wrote about this right after the Weinstein allegations broke. Pitt’s rep tried to talk me out of writing it but admitted there was no excuse for his actions.” From the 2017 Daily Beast piece:
But Brad Pitt knew. By his own admission, Paltrow informed him that Weinstein had sexually harassed her all the way back in 1996. While Paltrow explained to the Times how she felt she had to “suppress the experience” of being attacked by Weinstein, and, after being threatened by the exec, went on to act in several other Weinstein-shepherded films (including an Oscar-winning turn in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love), by the late-Aughts Pitt had the power to affect change. He was, as Clooney told Esquire, “the biggest movie star in the world… he’s bigger than me, bigger than DiCaprio.” He ran a successful production company in Plan B Entertainment, responsible for hits like The Departed. And yet, he opted to star in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, which was distributed by The Weinstein Company.
A source close to Pitt confirms to The Daily Beast that Pitt knew of the Paltrow incident with Weinstein but that “Quentin went to him directly to bring him into the project, and Brad did it because of the relationship and the contact. Interaction with Harvey was very limited.” The source, however, went on to explain that since every Tarantino project has been distributed by Weinstein, Pitt understood that Inglourious would be as well. They could not confirm whether Pitt knew at the time of his then-girlfriend Jolie’s alleged incident with Weinstein, and representatives for Jolie and Pitt would not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.
And, while Pitt’s interactions with Weinstein may have been limited, the exec’s involvement in the project was anything but. Weinstein, who’s earned the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands” for his tendency to demand film edits, usually shies away from meddling with Tarantino movies but was rumored to have demanded that its initial three-hour running time be cut down by at least a half-hour (its final running time: 153 minutes). Weinstein also launched aggressive Oscar campaigns for the film and Pitt, fresh off a Best Actor nod the previous year for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, doing interview after interview touting their credentials and flooding Academy voters with cheap, non-watermarked DVD screeners.
You see, there was a lot riding on Inglourious Basterds. The Weinstein Company was in dire financial straits, having recently hired a high-powered financial advisory firm to restructure after incurring heavy debt. The film’s ultimate success, earning eight Academy Award nominations and grossing over $321 million worldwide, helped keep the company afloat.
Following the release of Inglourious, Pitt agreed to star in and produce an adaptation of the book Cogan’s Trade, directed by Andrew Dominik and developed by Plan B. After a heated bidding war, the distribution rights to the film were sold to The Weinstein Company, who promised a $20 million ad spend. The film, ultimately titled Killing Them Softly, was released in 2012 by Pitt and Weinstein, earning a meager $15 million stateside.
Our source in Pitt’s camp said that they were “unable to provide any context” about exactly why Pitt chose to collaborate with Weinstein again on the crime drama (and in a much more involved capacity) despite his ex-fiancée telling him that she’d been accosted by the exec, and that he’d allegedly—perhaps unbeknownst to Pitt, perhaps not—attacked his then-partner Jolie.
So, again, Angelina Jolie now says that Brad knew what Weinstein did to her, that she had always warned people away from Weinstein, that she told Pitt and her first husband Jonny Lee Miller. And Brad still worked with Weinstein, sat back and let Weinstein throw money at his IB Oscar campaign, and then worked with Weinstein again on Killing Them Softly. And instead of correcting the record in 2017, when the Weinstein stories were coming out and Brad was being hailed as heroic, Angelina didn’t chime in. God, I’m so f–king mad.
Two more connections – Brad’s Plan B is producing She Said, based on Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s NYT expose. And Pitt has worked with PR guru Matthew Hiltzik for years now – Hiltzik was Weinstein’s long-time media fixer.
Photos courtesy of Getty.