Brad Pitt at the University
By Damien Morgan
Actor, producer and activist, Brad Pitt, visited the NYC Campus as a guest of “Inside the Actors Studio” on Jan. 31, 2012.
Starring in popular movies such as Thelma & Louise, Seven, 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13, Inglorious Basterds and Moneyball, Pitt had nothing less than a packed auditorium to hear him talk about his achievements and acting roles.
As the room drew quiet and host James Lipton gave his usual profound introduction, the crowd went wild as Pitt walked onto the stage with a relaxed pose and hop in his step. The actor strode in, not as a snobby- celebrity, but as a casual everyday person that was just happy to be there.
The show began as it usually does with questions about his parents and childhood. To the surprise of some, the 48-year-old star grew up in Oklahoma and then in Missouri, nowhere near a usual place for an actor to come from.
He then went on to talk about how his earlier movie influences came from the drive in. Dictated by what movie his father would want to see, the family would drive out just to sit under the stars on the hood of their car as they ate homemade popcorn and drank Kool-Aid. On multiple occasions his mother would drop Pitt off for the day just to watch the “Planet of the Apes” marathon on the big screen, which soon became a favorite series of the actor.
Lipton proceeded to ask about Pitt’s early acting career. He responded by stating that he left the University of Missouri shy of a few credits with only $325 in his pocket, in search of something bigger.
When he arrived to Los Angeles, he tried his luck at being an extra in commercials, movies and television shows. While striving for greatness, he had to support himself by having many odd jobs, such as driving strippers around. As glamorous as this job title sounds, eventually Pitt had to quit, but on his last day one of the girls had mentioned something about acting classes.
Being at the right place at the right time, this was the moment that Pitt learned about his future acting coach, Roy London. He then soon starred in the movie No Man’s Land and television shows such as “Growing Pains’ and “Dallas.” Pitt talked about how he was a stand in extra as a waiter in a movie with one task, to pour the wine and leave. With a smile on Pitt’s face, he told the audience about how he thought this would be his big break and decided to go for it. ‘”Would you like anything else?” was all Pitt said to the actress, but as quick as the words came out of his mouth, he was thrown off the set.
A Yugoslavian movie by the name of The Dark Side of the Sun gave Pitt his first leading role in a movie, but it wasn’t until his supporting role in the film Thelma & Louise that he was truly recognized.
When asked about the famous movie Seven, Pitt sat back with nothing but enjoyment on his face. He talked about the influences that Morgan Freeman had on him as well as the role itself. As a detective hunting down a serial killer, this part would give Pitt a new horizon and take away from his usual “pretty boy” role. He then talked about an incident that occurred on the set of this film.
During the last take of a chase scene where his character is running across the top of cars to chase down a villain, he decided to slide off the last car onto the street. Instead of a sliding motion, he actually jumped, crashing bottom first through the windshield of a car. “It was like sitting in a bath tub,” Pitt said and with no hesitation he pushed himself back up and continued the chase.
Without realizing it, three of his fingers, along with his left arm, were cut up. Pitt then revealed to the audience a secret about the movie. As his left arm was incapacitated for many shots afterwards, one will notice during the film that he was indeed wearing a cast, and inconspicuously only used the working arm throughout the remaining scenes.
Another turning point for Pitt’s career was his part in the film 12 Monkeys. For this character, Pitt had to play alongside Bruce Willis as a fellow mentally ill patient in a psychiatric ward. A clip of Pitt’s performance was shown to the audience and in comparison to his other acting roles; he really brought a wild, yet disturbing characteristic to the part. By taking this risk, Pitt won a Golden Globe Award and received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
As the interview was coming to a close, many questions were asked about his cult classics and his more recent movies. Pitt shared how in Fight Club, he really only did about 20 seconds of actual fighting and how one of his more favorite roles was indeed the one he played in the western drama, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward of Robert Ford.
What he seemed most happy about was his work with Jonah Hill and director Bennett Miller on the film Moneyball. Even though, as Pitt put it, he is not a big baseball fan, this was a character that he enjoyed watching, even if it was his own.
In the end, Pitt showed everyone that he was not only a celebrity, but a genuine human being, not one that has been corrupted by fame, but as someone that is grateful for what he has.
Before he left, Pitt said how happy he was to be able to come to the University, talk about his life and answer everyone’s questions that the students had to offer. His appearance left many of the acting majors in the crowd with the hope that if a poor kid from Missouri can make it big, then anyone can.