Brad Pitt Biography Film Actor, Producer (1963–)

QUICK FACTS

NAME
Brad Pitt
OCCUPATION
Film Actor, Producer
BIRTH DATE
December 18, 1963 (age 52)
EDUCATION
Kickapoo High School, University of Missouri
PLACE OF BIRTH
Shawnee, Oklahoma
AKA
William Pitt
Brad Pitt
FULL NAME
William Bradley Pitt
ZODIAC SIGN
Sagittarius

Synopsis

Actor and producer Brad Pitt was born on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Pitt’s first jobs came in television in the late 1980s. Pitt made his big-screen debut in 1989’s horror film Cutting Class and his role in 1994’s Legends of the Fall helped secured his place as a Hollywood staple. More recent film credits include Fight Club (1999), Babel (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Moneyball (2011) and World War Z (2013). Pitt is also a two-time winner of People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” title (1995 and 2000). He was nominated for an Academy Award for the fifth time in 2014, winning his first Oscar in the best picture category as a producer for 12 Years a Slave (2013). He is married to fellow actor Angelina Jolie.

Early Life

Actor Brad Pitt was born William Bradley Pitt on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the eldest of three children in a devoutly Southern Baptist family, and grew up in Springfield, Missouri. His father, Bill Pitt, owned a trucking company, and his mother, Jane Pitt, was a family counselor. Pitt originally aspired to be an advertising art director, studying journalism at the University of Missouri.

However, the young college student had other, quiet aspirations that were the product of a childhood love of movies. His dreams finally seemed tangible his last semester at university when he realized, “I can leave.” On a whim, Pitt dropped out of college, packed up his Datsun and headed West to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, just two credits shy of a college degree.

Pitt told his parents he intended to enroll in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, but instead spent the next several months driving a limousine—chauffeuring strippers from one bachelor party to the next, delivering refrigerators and trying to break into the L.A. acting scene. He joined an acting class and, shortly after, accompanied a classmate as her scene partner on an audition with an agent. In a twist of fate, the agent signed Pitt instead of his classmate. After weathering only seven months in Los Angeles, Pitt had secured an agent and regular acting work.

Pretty Boy Roles

Pitt’s first jobs came in television, appearing in episodes of Dallas, the daytime soap Another World, the sitcom Growing Pains and in 1990’s short-lived Fox Television series Glory Days. In 1989, Pitt played Billy Canton, the drug-addicted pimp of a teenage runaway (played by Juliette Lewis) in the NBC made-for-television movie Too Young to Die. Pitt and Lewis (nine years his junior, at age 16) started dating and eventually moved in together.

Pitt made his big screen debut in 1989’s horror/slasher film Cutting Class with Donovan Leitch, and played a teen track star in Sandy Tung’s Across the Tracks, but it was a well-timed bit part in a controversial Hollywood film that pushed him into the glare of instant stardom. Pitt’s performance as a renegade, sugar-tongued hitchhiker who gets picked up by the two title characters in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise (1991) grabbed universal attention despite only a few minutes worth of screen time. Pitt’s combination of charming bad boy charisma and sensual playfulness—particularly in a fiery love scene with Geena Davis—made him a genuine sex symbol (and wore out the rewind button on many a VCR).

Pitt’s next few films failed to boost his acting credibility and establish him as more than just a pretty face in Hollywood. He appeared in The Favor (1992) with Elizabeth McGovern, Tom CiCillo’s directorial debut Johnny Suede(1992) and the unconvincing, half-animated Cool World (1992).

More Serious Fare

However, later that year, the Hollywood sunshine set the golden boy alight once more in Robert Redford’s 1992 film A River Runs Through It, based on Norman McLean’s autobiography. Pitt played the main character’s gambling, fly-fishing brother (looking remarkably like a younger version of the director). Redford later admitted that he did not choose Pitt on the strength of his audition, rather, because “[he] had an inner conflict that was very interesting to me.” Pitt delivered a sparkling performance, skillfully depicting the character’s dangerous footing between overwhelming charm and reckless self-destructiveness.

In 1993, Pitt re-teamed with three-year girlfriend Lewis in Dominic Sela’s Kalifornia. Pitt played Early Grayce, a man who goes on a cross-country killing spree with his girlfriend. The film was deemed self-indulgently violent and nihilistic by many reviewers and did not do well in the box office. Pitt and Lewis broke up soon after filming, creating a publicity disaster.

Pitt proceeded to lighten his repertoire with a comedic performance as “Floyd,” a burnt-out hippie in Tony Scott’s True Romance, but his next major role came in the adaptation of Ann Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, alongside Tom Cruise. Rice initially expressed outrage at the casting choices, finding the two boyish, all-American film stars too rough for the homoerotic overtones of the tale. “It’s like casting Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer,” she reportedly complained. However, after seeing the final film, Rice retracted her initial statements and filmed a short spot for the video version, endorsing the film. Caryn James of The New York Times reported, “the power of the film depends on Mr. Pitt’s rich and deeply affecting performance. Low-key and serene, he makes Louis convincing as a bereaved father, lover, even son.”

Blockbuster Hits

In 2005, Pitt starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the blockbuster action flick Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Showcasing a married pair who are both secretly working as spies, the movie earned more than $478 million worldwide, with the two actors eventually becoming a real-life couple.

Pitt’s next film, the critically acclaimed Babel (2006), earned the actor another Golden Globe nomination. The actor moved on to less serious fare in the reprisal of his role as Rusty Ryan in Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). In 2008, Pitt teamed up with Joel and Ethan Coen to star in the FBI comedic thriller Burn After Reading. The film earned two Golden Globe nominations and grossed more than $60 million at the box office.

Pitt took on a more fantastic lead role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a film based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this Fincher-directed movie, Pitt plays the title character, who is born as a 70-year-old man and ages in reverse. Pitt received another Oscar nod for the film, which won three Academy Awards.

In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and, in 2011, starred with Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He was also the lead player in Moneyball, a baseball dramedy that follows the travails of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and his quest to reshape his team. The film earned six Oscar nominations, including nods for Pitt as both lead actor and producer in the best picture category.

First Oscar

In 2013, Pitt won acclaim for his performance as Gerry Lane in the zombie-apocalyptic thriller World War Z (2013), directed by Marc Forster, and later that year appeared as a supporting character in The Counselor. He also received raves for his work on 12 Years a Slave. The film, directed by Steve McQueen, tells the true story of free African-American musician Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Pitt plays a Canadian carpenter who greatly aids Northup, with a cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender and Quvenzhané Wallis.

For his work as a producer on the film, Pitt earned his fifth Academy Award nomination, receiving his second nod in the best picture category. He won the award in 2014—marking his first Oscar win—sharing it with McQueen, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas.

That year also saw Pitt starring as an army sergeant in the WWII action drama Fury. Then in 2015, Pitt co-starred with wife Jolie in the art house outing By the Sea, which she wrote and directed. He also appeared in The Big Short, a film which focuses on the housing market bubble that fueled the 2008 financial collapse and a group of men who’d predicted the turmoil to come. Based on the nonfiction bestseller by Michael Lewis, the project has earned four Golden Globe nominations, garnering Oscar buzz as well.

Brad Pitt at the Cannes film festival in 2012. (Photo: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com)
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