Brad Pitt remains one of Hollywood’s golden boys, that ultra cool movie star who exudes boyish enthusiasm on and off the screen. Funny and hip, Pitt’s own funny side is being displayed on screen, these days, first in Snatch, and now as a hapless mobster’s runner in The Mexican, in which he teams up with long-time pal, Hollywood’s pretty woman, Julia Roberts.
In good humour during this interview, Pitt spoke to Paul Fischer in LA’s swish Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel.
Brad Pitt seemed in an awfully good mood on this sunny Sunday morning. Casually attired in a green t-shirt draped over a denim shirt and jeans, Brad is an affable guy, though a man of few words. Fiercely shy and protective, Pitt gets to let loose on screen, often playing exciting, energetic characters to mask his own shyness. In both Snatch and his latest film, The Mexican, he also gets to show off his funny side, and not a moment too soon, he quips. “I mean [directors] only know what you show ’em. And some work and some don’t, it’s always iffy, you know?”
Personified as being ultra cool, Pitt is able to shed this image to almost subtle perfection as the lowly mobster’s errand boy in The Mexican. “Yes, I call this character the anti-McQueen; nothing cool about him.” Pitt adds that it’s tired for him to live up to that cool image anyhow. “It gets a little old, I guess, because we can all do it.”
The Mexican is a small, romantic crime comedy about a rascal petty crook (Pitt) whose stormy relationship with his girlfriend (Julia Roberts) self-destructs when he accepts a risky job south of the border. Soon she becomes embroiled in underworld doings when it is believed that he absconds with a rare pistol meant for his boss.
The Mexican began as a low budget, no stars movie, till Brad and Julia joined the project. It was still low budget in Hollywood terms, with Pitt’s fee going down considerably. “Yeah my agents are thinking of dropping me because I’m doing more of the same in the next year and a half,” he says laughingly. So what is it that attracts an actor of Pitt’s star power to a quirky little road movie such as this? “Well for me it starts off with the script and the part. I just remember reading this funny line about fairness and this character just wanted to be fair and the world to be fair back to HIM. Yet it’s that time in his life when fate is getting the red lights and so from there, Julia jumped in as did Gandolfini [from The Sopranos], and so it was a done deal.”
Brad and Julia have waited 15 years to be afforded the chance to work together, and it appears Fate has brought therm together for this movie. “Things have kind of circled the horizon, but it just seemed too obvious for us to jump into, it seemed more like retreads of things you’d seen before, so they didn’t come to fruition. But when this thing came up, there was that Hepburn-Tracy banter quality that we were shooting for that I really liked, and the idea of us getting into this ensemble piece, it all just felt right and a good one to start with and original.” As for working with Roberts, Pitt is full of genuine praise for his co-star. “She’s a delight, man, and so much fun, believe me.”
It is hard to believe that this boyish movie star made his screen debut some 11 years ago, with the forgettable Happy Together. But it was 1991’s Thelma and Louise that put the now 37-year old star on the map. Since then, he was used to solid advantage in the likes of A River Runs Through It, Kalifornia, Legends of the Fall, Interview with a Vampire, Seven, Sleepers, Meet Joe Black and the recent Snatch. Pitt’s recent wedding to Friends star Jennifer Aniston created a media frenzy, yet through it all, Pitt remains quietly grounded – for the most part. “Oh I lose my footing from time to time, but it’s all just a hologram, that’s all I can tell you.” The actor remains philosophical, when pressed, about his often-frenzied relationship with the media.
“Usually it’s an adjustment you make. I know when I go outside, there’ll be a van or two and they’ll probably follow us four out of seven days a week, trying to get something. But I’m just going across town and I know they’re just wasting their day, so it doesn’t bother me anymore. It used to feel like such an invasion, but now to me, they’re doing their thing and I’m doing mine, and I’ve got nothing to hide.” Pitt adds that he continues to “understand that fascination with fame and the fascination, and the drive to want to be, in that form. I just think it says something about our culture, which is a little frightening, that we’re so devoid of a bit of spirituality.”
Which is why Pitt remains choosy about the work, trying not to give in to the temptation of the big bucks that comes with his profile. “I think I say ‘no’ a little too much these days,” Brad insists. “But it’s also a matter of putting a bit of faith in the director and storyteller, so you can work on the thing and it’ll get better.”
When Brad’s not working, he prefers the quiet sanctity of his recent marriage. Protective of his privacy and refusing to give away too much, he happily concedes that married life is “pretty good”, describing his wife as “cool, very funny, great to be with.” Asked whether he would want to do a movie with Jennifer, Pitt simply says “absolutely, I’d like to do anything with my wife.”
Next up for Pitt is the ensemble caper film, Ocean’s 11, in which he teams up with the likes of George Clooney and Julia Roberts. “This thing is cool. Soderbergh and Clooney asked the question: Why aren’t there any films like The Great Escape where all these actors just showed up and had a good time, so that’s what they’ve attempted to do with this one. They’ve assembled this great cast, which was tough to organise, but right now, it’s the great cast, the banter and the heist. Just way cool. It should be great fun”, Pitt exclaims with boyish enthusiasm. Pitt has also completed filming Robert Redford’s Spy Game, due out later this year. “That’s more back to classic storytelling and we’ll see what it is. My part is actually the smaller part and in flashbacks.”
Brad Pitt is one of Hollywood’s major players, but yet he thrives on not taking it all too seriously. In his latest movies, he’s a real goofball; perhaps that is closest to the real Mr Pitt. For the moment, he just enjoys being goofy on the screen and loves it. “It’s fun work, time to cut loose, I love it, and you get a lot of room just to play. That’s what cool about this job.”
The Mexican opens nationally in the US on March 2