Read Our Exclusive Interview with Brad Pitt

Here, in this exclusive interview, Brad Pitt riffs on films, family, reinventing himself at 50 and what it’s like to bring home the Oscar for Best Picture

Cool and confident, Brad Pitt has always been deeply passionate about his work.  Now 50, he sees himself slowly transitioning to a full-time career as a producer while diminishing his acting workload.  Winning the Best Picture Oscar as producer and key financier on 12 Years a Slave has given him plenty of reason to believe in his ability to bring great stories to life.

“It’s not easy getting films made and it’s never easy finding those beautiful and moving stories that will reach out to people,”  Pitt says.  “A story like ’12 Years a Slave’ comes along once in a decade maybe, and then it might take you years to convince people to make it.  But it’s so gratifying to be able to help put it all together and make a film that is going to inspire audiences for many years down the road.”

With his long-time partner and fiancée Angelina Jolie at his side during last Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies, Pitt was visibly moved backstage when talking to reporters following his film’s triumph.  Having successfully developed and produced films ranging from Moneyball to last year’s successful zombie blockbuster World War Z and now to 12 Years a Slave, Brad has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in the cutthroat Hollywood film industry.

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Meanwhile, despite his oft-repeated intentions to diminish his time in front of the cameras, he continues to commit to projects like “Fury,” the WWII film that shot in England last Autumn and (for which he had his hair cropped in military-style fashion for the Oscars).

ben-angelina-tiffBrad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are currently living in Los Angeles where they make their principal home during the school year while raising their six children. Jolie returned from Australia at the end of last year where she spent two months shooting her second feature film as a director, Unbroken.

During the summer months, Brad, Angie and their kids enjoy life at their €40 million palazzo along the French Riviera.

Chiwetel Eijofor, who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar which ultimately went to Matthew McConaughey, had this to say about Brad Pitt’s level of dedication to 12 Years a Slave: “Brad was always there for us (while shooting the film). Whenever there was a problem, Brad was the one who got it fixed. He was so deeply committed.”

Pitt’s production company, Plan B, is in the process of developing The Operators, based on the book by the late Michael Hastings which was an expansion of his Rolling Stone article that led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010.

“We follow the storytellers, and our little garage band of a production company’s mandate (is) to help complex films get over the hill if they need a little push. We are in a fortunate position to do that.”

 CLICK THROUGH TO READ A CANADA-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRAD PITT

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Q:  Brad, how does it feel to be an Oscar-winner?

PITT:  I’m so proud of what Steve McQueen (the director), our incredible cast, and all the people who worked so hard on this film have accomplished.  This is the kind of film that inspired me to get into the film business in the first place.  There is so much that we can all draw inspiration from in Solomon Northrup’s struggle to retain his dignity and fight for his freedom.  I never fully understood how precious our freedom can be until I read his story…That’s one of the main reasons that I’m so pleased that so many other people have been able to see this film and appreciate his momentous journey.

Q:  What do you think of Lupita Nyong’o winning an Oscar (for best supporting actress)?

PITT:  She gave an incredible performance and that’s even more remarkable because its her very first film.  We were lucky to find her.  She’s grace incarnate, a very special actress.

Thumbnail for 334799Q:  This film was by no means a sure thing when it came to getting financed?

PITT:  (Smiles) No. There were many hurdles we had to overcome and we needed to pound the pavement a bit to get it funded.  But I had a few friends and a few favours to call in and that helped the process.  Sometimes you need to work a little harder to get difficult material made.  I believed in this project from the beginning and I was always going to go the extra mile to see it through.  It was too good and important a story and Steve McQueen did a fantastic job as did Chiwetel (Eijofor) whose performance I, as an actor, admired tremendously.

Q:  How would you summarise your experience working on this film?

PITT:  I learnt a lot.  Steve is living proof that you can make a great film on a shoestring budget under difficult circumstances. He was the one who convinced me that he could pull it off and he did! It was long hours, it was very hot in the sun in Louisiana, but everyone worked very hard and no one complained because they all believed that this story had to be be told.  That’s where the real passion of filmmaking enters into the process.  Basically we love what we do.

ben-glassesQ:  What drives you as a producer as compared to your work as an actor?

PITT:  Being a producer means you can look for stories that are meaningful to you and be part of their evolution from day one until the day the film is finished.  I’ve spent a lot of my life on a film set and I’ve learnt a lot about how this business works and what kinds of elements enable you to make good films as opposed to bad ones.  I’ve been able to produce a lot of films lately and each time out it’s a learning experience where I’m able to take that knowledge and put it to good use on the next project.

I still enjoy acting but I like spending more time at home with our family and that’s something you can’t always do if you’re spending three or four months away on a film set.  As a producer, I get to work out of my home, I get to make the kids their breakfast, drive them to school, and be there for dinner.

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Q:  What are some of things you understand much better today about filmmaking that you didn’t when you first started out as an actor?

PITT:  The key for me is to do stories that I find personally interesting and meaningful and which make me feel that I’m going to leave something behind which will make me proud and make my children proud.  I would like to show some of my films to my children and which I can point to and say, “Your daddy made this!”   I’ve learnt that I need to throw myself into projects that are personal and have something to say about the world in a lasting way.

Q:  Do you think you didn’t manage your career properly at the beginning?

PITT:  When you’re starting out it’s easy to feel kind of lost. I didn’t really follow my instincts about doing more personal kinds of projects.  You get a lot of advice from people who are trying to advance your career and wanting to make money off of you but who are also trying to help you make you a lot of money. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it isn’t always going to lead you to make good films.  You spend too much time on career maintenance but then you think what’s the point if it’s not leading you to be doing interesting work which is why you really became an actor in the first place.

Sometimes you feel that anyone else could have played that same part and that just leaves you feeling very empty.  Eventually I figured out that I was in the game to tell personal stories where I can feel that my work as an actor was unique in some way and that I could add something to a film that would be different from what anyone else might bring to the way the story was told. You like being able to leave your own personal stamp on a film.

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Q:  Apart from your film work, how is it managing your big family these days?

PITT:  It’s fun watching the kids getting older and learning more and more.  That’s one of the great privileges of being a father – you get to teach them things and watch them pick up on that.  You just need to give them a little inspiration and encouragement and then you see them just dive into things and then they’ll read everything they can about a subject and spend time trying to show you how much they’ve learnt.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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Q:  Does it get tiresome to deal with the paparazzi who are constantly on your trail?

PITT:  We do a pretty good job protecting them from that.  We have to take detours to go to certain places, we can’t take the kids to the park, so you try to find a beach maybe where there aren’t too many people. We like to be able to give the kids a feeling of security and privacy as much as we can… It’s easier when we’re in the countryside or in (southern) France where no one pays much attention to us.

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Q:  Has turning 50 been much of an event for you?

PITT:  Not particularly.  I feel that my life has reached a point where I can look back and see that I’ve accomplished a lot of my goals as an actor and I’m also not as much a commodity anymore.  So I feel freer to be able to do pretty much anything I want as a producer and on occasion as a actor.  I’m also able to spend as much time as I would like to with my family which is really my main concern.  I think when you get older and you just naturally think much less about yourself and you see everything in terms of what you can do to make your family happy….At least until they become wicked teenagers and don’t want anything to do with us.

EverythingZoomer.com is the only Canadian media outlet to run this interview.