Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Fight Club, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Ocean's Series
Currently Known For:
Actor and Film Producer
Fight Club, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Ocean's Series
“Success is a beast. And it actually puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. You get away with more instead of looking within.” One of the hottest leading men in Hollywood over the last three decades, Brad Pitt is an actor and film producer who first launched his career as a cowboy hitchhiker in the 1991 film, Thelma & Louise. Over the next few years, he honed his talents with critically acclaimed performances in A River Runs Through It (1992), Legends of the Fall (1994), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Seven (1995), and 12 Monkeys (1995), the latter of which earned him an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.
By the end of the 1990s, Pitt was one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood and sealed his fate as a leading man with stellar performances in Fight Club (1999), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). During this time, he turned heads for his idyllic relationship with Friends star Jennifer Aniston before he fell in love with his Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) costar Angelina Jolie. Eventually divorcing Aniston and marrying Jolie, Pitt returned to the silver screen with award-nominated and award-winning performances in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Moneyball (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and The Big Short (2015). Most recently, the 55-year-old actor landed back in the media’s crosshairs when Jolie filed for divorce. What’s the status of their relationship and what is Pitt’s then and now Hollywood story?
“I grew up on certain movies, particular movies that said something to me as a kid from Missouri, movies that showed me places I’d yet traveled, or difficult cultures, or explained something, or said something in a better way than I could ever say. I wanted to find the movies like that.” William Bradley Pitt came into this world on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma where his father owned a trucking company and his mother worked as a school counselor. The oldest of three children, Pitt and his siblings—Douglas and Julie—were raised in a conservative Southern Baptist home in Springfield, Missouri.
“Well, it was Springfield, Missouri, which is a big place now, but we grew up surrounded by cornfields—which is weird because we always had canned vegetables,” Pitt said of his youth. “I never could figure that one out! Anyway, ten minutes outside of town, you start getting into forests and rivers and the Ozark Mountains. Stunning country… I grew up in caves. We had a lot of caves, fantastic caverns. And we grew up First Baptist, which is the cleaner, stricter, go-by-the-book Christianity. Then, when I was in high school, my folks jumped to a more charismatic movement, which got into speaking in tongues and raising your hands…”
While his parent’s strict religious beliefs were often problematic for the young Pitt, he enjoyed the revival meetings and the chance to hear different stories. “As a kid, I was certainly drawn to stories—beyond the stories that we were living and knew, stories with different points of view. And I found those stories in film, especially,” Pitt said. “Different cultures and lives so foreign to mine. I think that was one of the draws that propelled me into film. I didn’t know how to articulate stories. I’m certainly not a good orator, sitting here telling a story, but I could foster them in film.”
At Kickapoo High School, Pitt excelled in sports, especially tennis and swimming. He also participated in school musicals but didn’t yet see a future career as an actor. After his high school graduation, he enrolled at the University of Missouri to study journalism and advertising; however, the longer he studied, the more he realized he wanted to do something else with his life. That’s when he realized that his passion for films could pave the way into acting as he dropped out of college just two weeks before finals and moved to Los Angeles.
Once in Los Angeles, Pitt enrolled in acting classes under Roy London and took a variety of odd jobs to support himself as he went out for various auditions. Then, after a year of struggling to establish himself as an actor, he auditioned for and won a handful of uncredited parts in three 1987 films—No Way Out, No Man’s Land, and Less Than Zero. The same year, he made a guest appearance on the NBC soap opera Another World and spent the rest of the decade making his way around television with guest appearances on Growing Pains (1987), Head of the Class (1987), Freddy’s Nightmares (1987), Dallas (1987), and 21 Jump Street (1988). He also appeared in the 1988 television film A Stoning in Fulham County.Catching His Big Break as a Cowboy Hitchhiker
“Heartthrobs are a dime a dozen.” Amid his work on television, Pitt got his first starring role on the silver screen in the Yugoslavian film The Dark Side of the Sun (1988), which went unnoticed in the United States. Fortunately, Pitt didn’t have to wait long for another film role when he was cast as Dwight Ingalls in Cutting Class (1989). By the turn of the decade, Pitt still hadn’t captured stardom yet, but his luck drastically improved in 1991 when he was cast as a handsome, hitchhiking cowboy opposite Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise. Despite only having a small part in the film, Pitt became an international celebrity and an American sex symbol thanks to his intimate scene with Geena Davis.
Because of Thelma & Louise, Pitt found himself winning more starring film roles beginning with his performance as Paul Maclean in A River Runs Through It (1992). Next up, he starred in Kalifornia (1993) and joined Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, and Antonio Banderas in the 1994 horror film, Interview with the Vampire. Although he won two MTV Movie Awards for the film, his performance was panned by critics. “Brad Pitt… is a large part of the problem in the film,” one critic for the Dallas Observer wrote. “When directors play up his cocky, hunkish, folksy side… he’s a joy to watch. But there’s nothing about him that suggests inner torment or even self-awareness, which makes him a boring Louis.”
Despite the negative publicity, Pitt came back even stronger in Legends of the Fall (1994) and earned his first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. He then starred in the box office hit Seven (1995) and gave a critically acclaimed performance in 12 Monkeys (1995), which earned him his first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Throughout the rest of the decade, he added in credits in Sleepers (1996), The Devil’s Own (1997) starring Harrison Ford, Seven Years in Tibet (1997), and Meet Joe Black (1998) before he turned heads with his exceptional performance in Fight Club (1999), which has become a cult classic over the last two decades.
The new millennium welcomed even bigger opportunities for Pitt who starred in Snatch (2000), The Mexican (2001), and Spy Game (2001). He joined his then-wife, Jennifer Aniston, in an episode of Friends (2001) and earned an Emmy Award nomination for his performance. Later in the year, he skyrocketed to even greater fame alongside George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and Andy Garcia in Ocean’s Eleven (2001). The film was a massive hit at the box office and earned over $450 million worldwide, prompting sequels like Ocean’s Twelve (2004), and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).
Pitt stayed exceptionally busy over the next few years with starring roles in Troy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Babel (2006), and The Departed (2006). He also proved his talents as an executive producer on projects like God Grew Tired of Us (2006), Year of the Dog (2007), The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), and Eat Pray Love (2010). Continuing to work behind the scenes as a producer, he also starred in The Tree of Life (2011), Moneyball (2011), Killing Them Softly (2012), World War Z (2013), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Fury (2014), and The Big Short (2015).
In recent years, Pitt has become more selective with his projects as a producer, executive producer, and actor. His most recent projects include Deadpool 2 (2018), Beautiful Boy (2018), and Vice (2018). His upcoming films, which are currently in post-production, include The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019), Ad Astra (2019), The King (2019), the untitled Miranda July Project (2019), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). His last television appearance came in 2017 on six episodes of the Comedy Central series, The Jim Jefferies Show.Personal Relationships and Life Today
Amid his growing fame in Hollywood, Pitt had a string of high-profile relationships with costars like Robin Givens from Head of the Class, Jill Schoelen from Cutting Class, Juliette Lewis from Too Young to Die? and Kalifornia, and Gwyneth Paltrow from Seven, whom he dated and was briefly engaged to from 1994 to 1997. After breaking things off with Paltrow, Pitt met and fell in love with Friends star Jennifer Aniston in 1998. They quickly became Hollywood’s favorite couple and exchanged vows in a private ceremony in Malibu on July 29, 2000.
Pitt and Aniston announced their split in 2005. Months later, Aniston filed for divorce, which was finalized in October 2005 as the media reported that Pitt had fallen head over heels in love with his Mr. & Mrs. Smith costar Angelina Jolie. Despite initially denying any relationship, Pitt and Jolie eventually confirmed they fell in love on the set. Months after his divorce from Aniston, Pitt was seen on the beach with Jolie and her son, Maddox, which sent the media into another frenzy and dubbed the duo “Brangelina.”
In January 2006, Jolie announced she was pregnant with Pitt’s child, which marked the first time she publicly confirmed the relationship. In the months following, Pitt adopted Jolie’s children—Maddox Chivan and Zahara Marley—before Jolie gave birth to their daughter, Shiloh Nouvel on May 27, 2006, in Swakopmund, Namibia. Two years later, Pitt adopted Pax Thien in February 2008 and, a few months later, Jolie gave birth to twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline on July 12, 2008, in Nice, France. The first pictures of the twins were sold to People and Hello! magazines for $14 million, which set a new record for the most expensive celebrity pictures ever taken. The couple then donated the proceeds to the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.
Although things seemed perfect for Brangelina over the next few years, Jolie surprised the world when she announced their separation and filed for divorce on September 19, 2016. Citing irreconcilable differences, Pitt’s growing alcoholism had taken a toll on their relationship and their life at home, forcing Pitt to take a hard look at his life and habits. In the months following the separation, Pitt gave up drinking and smoking pot. “I mean, we have a winery. I enjoy wine very, very much, but I just ran it to the ground,” he said. “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.” Ultimately, Pitt decided it wasn’t a way to live, so he gave up all his vices in exchange for creativity and a chance to rebuild his family.
In the months following the separation, rumors ran wild that Pitt was verbally abusive and physical with his 15-year-old son, Maddox, which led Jolie to take action. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services later investigated the home and dropped any charges of misconduct. In October 2016, Pitt and Jolie agreed to weekly, supervised visits with the children and announced they would do everything possible to keep the divorce confidential. However, in June 2018, the custody battle came to the forefront as the judge ruled that Jolie would lose primary custody if she didn’t allow them to have a relationship with Pitt.
Today, the custody and divorce proceedings continue with Pitt doing his best to recover what he lost. “We’ve been able to work together to sort this out. We’re both doing our best,” Pitt says. “It’s just very, very jarring for the kids to suddenly have their family ripped apart.”