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Brad Pitt’s reinvention as a star-actor: Of overcoming the trappings of beauty and finding his groove

On Brad Pitt's birthday today, we take a look at Hollywood icon's noteworthy evolution as an artiste. From working in dull romantic actioners to choosing to be a part of meatier stories, Pitt has come a long way.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: December 19, 2021 8:35:09 am
brad pittBrad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing)

Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt has been acting for over three decades in films. That is a long time to be in a profession as tricky and unpredictable as showbiz. But not only has Pitt displayed longevity, he has managed to remain relevant, and more so now than ever, at the top of his game. Not many 58-year-old actors can claim to have achieved that as an artiste working in the big bad Hollywood. But Pitt can, because he challenged himself, he did what any artiste worth their penny should do — reinvent.

brad pitt movie Brad Pitt in a still from Fight Club. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Brad Pitt is not the first name that always came up when someone said ‘a natural actor’. And that was a combination of two reasons primarily — one, because of his choices, and second, because people could not see beyond his physical beauty. Pitt has topped those vanity lists that magazines and internet polls often conduct. While the actor is super attractive, he also fell into the comfort trap of giving people what they want. As a result, Pitt was seen in multiple relaxed romantic/action (and very boring) movies for a while in the 90s (and a bit in the early noughties too). The Devil’s Own, Meet Joe Black, Spy Game, The Mexican, Mr and Mrs Smith — Pitt starred in them, but thankfully moved away from the genre for good.

In fact, in previous interviews, Brad had mentioned how it was after Troy that he began to see what had been holding him back. Sure, he had had some interesting roles before too, like Legends of the Fall, The Fight Club, 12 Monkeys and Snatch. In fact, 12 Monkeys earned him his first Oscar nomination. But those films were few and far in between. In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, Pitt pretty much said so himself.

“I don’t know what the outcome of the work is going to be. But in the ’90s I did become aware that there was this kind of leading-man role that you could plug any of us into and it didn’t even matter. We would all have the same result. So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of thinking, If I am the one to play something, what can I bring that’s unique?” he told the publication. And in the same chat, he revealed that he could never get his ‘head above water’ in the first 15 years of his career. This shows realisation of the journey he has had. Pitt is not afraid to admit that he has not always been good, and more than that, he has not been wise when it came to picking projects. But that has changed in the last decade, which could also be a result of (work) experience and age. So Pitt has not only become a better actor, he has chosen better stories to sell as a producer too.

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has backed several eclectic movies, including the likes of The Departed, Year of the Dog, A Mighty Heart, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Kick-Ass, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, 12 Years a Slave, Selma, The Big Short, Moonlight, Okja, Beautiful Boy, Vice and The King among others.

As far as his skills as an actor are concerned, nearly everything from Ocean’s 12 onwards is good. Pitt’s ease in his performance, that he so wonderfully executed in David Fincher’s Fight Club, is his USP. That charisma and pull only a few actors can claim to have. And it is this easiness — that perfect blend of natural magnetism peppered with some behavourial comedy — he displays in the Ocean’s films, Burn After Reading, Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that stands out and makes a Pitt performance delightful.

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