William Bradley "Brad" Pitt (born December 18, 1963) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor. He is one of the most famous movie actors in the world and is a popular icon in the media worldwide.
Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to Southern Baptist parents William A. Pitt and Jane Etta Hillhouse. The Pitt family is mainly of English descent. He and his two siblings, Doug Pitt and Julie Neal Pitt, grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where the family moved soon after his birth. Pitt's parents and siblings still live in Springfield, attending James River Assembly in Ozark, Missouri.
At Kickapoo High School, Pitt was involved in sports, debating, student government, and school musicals. He attended the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri - Columbia where he became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He was two credits shy of graduating with a journalism degree when he left to try his luck in Hollywood.
Before he became successful at acting, Pitt supported himself as a chauffeur, a furniture mover and a costumed mascot (chicken) for the restaurant chain El Pollo Loco in Los Angeles.
In the late 1980s, Pitt started landing acting gigs on primetime series such as Dallas, thirtysomething, 21 Jump Street, Freddy's Nightmares, Another World, Growing Pains, and Head of the Class.
In 1988, he finally landed his first starring role in The Dark Side of the Sun. However, as the film was being edited, war began in Yugoslavia, where location shooting was taking place. Most of the footage remained lost until 1998, when the film was finally released.
In 1991, Pitt finally got his big break in one of that year's biggest hits: Thelma & Louise as J.D., Thelma (Geena Davis)'s one-night stand who gives her tips on robbing 7-Eleven stores.
After Thelma and Louise, Pitt starred in a number of films including Johnny Suede as a big-haired rock star in (1991), A River Runs Through It (1992) and Kalifornia (1993), a road movie in which he played a scruffy serial killer alongside his then girlfriend Juliette Lewis and X-Files actor David Duchovny.
However, the role that may have truly catapulted Pitt to stardom was that of the vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac in the movie adaptation of Anne Rice's novel, Interview With The Vampire in 1994.
He followed up that success with Legends of the Fall and Se7en. In Se7en Pitt starred as the police detective David Mills alongside Morgan Freeman in the hunt for a serial killer played by Kevin Spacey.
That same year, Pitt was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jeffrey Goines in the 1995 film Twelve Monkeys in which he acted alongside Bruce Willis. It was reported that Pitt took the role of Jeffrey in order to get rid of his "pretty boy" image in which he purposely tried to make the character look as unattractive as possible, to the point of cutting his own hair. The crew also took his cigarettes away so that he would seem to be more irritated than usual.
In 1997 Pitt played the IRA terrorist Rory Devany in The Devil's Own alongside Harrison Ford, the first of several films where he has acted using an Irish accent. Reportedly Pitt had a difficult time with the making of the film and expressed his unhappinness with the final script which had apparently been rewritten seven times. Brad threatened to boycott the film which was turning into a disaster but was halted in the process with the threat of a $63 million law suit for breach of contract.
A busy year, that same year he played the main role of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer in the Jean Jacques Annaud film Seven Years In Tibet. Pitt trained for months for the role which demanded a great deal of trekking and mountain climbing, working out with co-star English actor David Thewlis by rock climbing in California and the Alps. Although Pitt's German accent in the film was not entirely convincing, the film received popular reviews and was hailed by Tibetan nationalists, much to the disgust of the China government which subsequently saw Pitt and Thewlis banned from China for life.
In 1998 Pitt starred as the main character in the supernatural film Meet Joe Black, giving him another chance to work alongside Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins whom he had previously worked with in Legends of the Fall.
In 1999 Brad Pitt starred in what is one of his most recognizable roles yet, in the cult classic Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Working with his previous director whom he had worked with on Se7en Pitt portrayed the character of Tyler Durden, a highly colorful and tenacious character and also highly complex.
Pitt trained for over six months for the role to attain the A1 physique of Tyler Durden building lean muscle tone by repetitive weight training and an Atkins Diet style dietary regime. His character was particularly flamboyant giving Pitt the chance to flaunt his movie star looks with a tanned leather jacket, outrageous aviator sunglasses, and Hawaiian shirts.
In 2000 Pitt retained his physical fitness and played the role of an Irish boxer in the gangster movie Snatch alongside Vinnie Jones and Benicio Del Torro.
In 2001 Brad Pitt was given the chance the work with long-term friend and actress Julia Roberts in the comical road movie The Mexican (2001). After his wedding to "Friends" actress Jennifer Aniston in the summer of that year he immediately began filming for Spy Game, a Cold War thriller in which he starred alongside veteran actor Robert Redford playing the role of his mentor. At the end of the year, Pitt finished filming Ocean's Eleven with George Clooney and Matt Damon, a highly successful remake of the 1960s classic a major hit at the box office sparking off several sequels. The film established a close friendship between the three particularly between Pitt and Clooney.
Since then he has done numerous films, including the sequel Ocean's Twelve and the Greek historical epic Troy in 2004 in which he portrayed the historical character of Achilles. Although a success, his character was actually incorrectly identified as the cousin of Patroclus. In Homer's Iliad, Achilles and Patroclus have a traditional Ancient Greek homosexual relationship. Interestingly, Brad allegedly turned down the role of Hephaestion in Alexander due to personal concerns with the character. This character was a best friend and lover to Alexander. The Achilles/Patroclus relationship as lovers was referenced in the movie Alexander by Christopher Plummer's character Aristotle. During the production of Troy Pitt also sustained an injury to his Achilles tendon which was highly ironic playing the role of Achilles.
In 2005 Pitt starred in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, in which he and his current partner, Angelina Jolie, starred as the title roles. There was much speculation in the press at the time that Brad was embarking on a relationship with Angelina whilst the film was under production but Brad has strongly denied any intimate involvement whilst married to Jennifer Aniston.
In March 2006 it was announced that Paramount had purchased the rights to The Sparrow for Pitt's production company, Plan B, and that Pitt himself would be playing the lead role of Sandoz. In June 2006 it was announced that Paramount and Brad Pitt's production company Plan B will be working on a new zombie film called World War Z, based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks. The film is set 10 years after a zombie apocalypse. Crown publishing will be releasing the book later in the fall.
To date Pitt has turned down a number of major roles including The Matrix, Apollo 13, The Bourne Identity, Alexander, The Devil's Advocate, Almost Famous, The Chamber and American Psycho.
Like many A-list stars, Pitt does not normally perform in American television commercials, instead opting to do commercials that are seen in Asia only, most notably for Edwin Jeans, the Toyota Altis, and Japanese canned coffee, ROOTS. A notable exception to this is a Heineken commercial which aired during the 2005 Super Bowl. It was directed by David Fincher, who directed Pitt in the feature films Se7en and Fight Club.
Together with Aniston and Paramount Pictures head Brad Grey, Pitt is the co-founder of the production company 'Plan B'. Aniston is no longer a partner in the company, although she is still attached to many projects that were set up before her divorce. The company produced the blockbuster Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp.
He has also had a cameo appearance in series 8 of Friends and on an episode of MTV's Jackass, in which he took part in a staged abduction of himself. In a later episode, he and some cast-members run wild through the streets of Los Angeles in gorrilla suits.
At college, his University of Missouri classmates included Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow and ABC-TV news anchor Elizabeth Vargas and it was rumoured that friends tried to set up Pitt and Sheryl Crow but nothing came of it.
Pitt dated Sonita back in the late 1980s and after a stint on the TV Show Head of the Class Brad Pitt dated Mike Tyson's then ex-wife Robin Givens. Pitt has also dated Geena Davis, Shalane McCall, Alice Wilkinson and Cork Actress, Shirley Walsh. Sometime after that the 26 year old Pitt became involved in a three-year relationship with 17-year old actress Juliette Lewis who was his co-star in Too Young to Die? and Kalifornia. They broke up very shorty after Brad developed a problem in his knees. He could barely walk.
Brad dated English actress Thandie Newton briefly on the set of the 1994 film Interview With The Vampire but the relationship soon fizzled out. She has publicly described Pitt as "A very beautiful man".
Pitt was involved in a long-term relationship with actress Gwyneth Paltrow whom he met and became close to on the set of the 1995 film Se7en who played his wife in the film. They became engaged in December 1996, but the couple split in June 1997. Extensive tabloid coverage surrounded the relationship. Nude photographs of the couple, taken by paparazzi, controversially appeared in magazines, primarily Playgirl which featured a full face shot of the actor on the cover.
Marriage to Jennifer Aniston
Their separation was announced on January 7, 2005. Aniston filed for a divorce on March 25 the same year. The divorce was finalized on October 2, 2005. The troubled marriage inspired Brad Pitt to cooperate with Steven Klein for a photoshoot which was displayed on the July 2005 edition of W magazine. The spread showed Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as a 1963 married couple with children who were experiencing differences in an era where he believed the importance of maintaining a "facade" was becoming complicated.
Relationship with Angelina Jolie
After his separation from Aniston, Pitt began dating Angelina Jolie. The couple were quickly dubbed "Brangelina" by the media. Pitt accompanied the actress to Ethiopia in July 2005 to pick up her adopted daughter Zahara from an orphanage in that country. In late 2005, Pitt accompanied Jolie twice during visits to Pakistan in her function as ambassador of UNHCR to support earthquake victims in that country. It was announced on December 2, 2005, that Pitt was seeking to legally adopt Jolie's two children, son Maddox and daughter Zahara, and to have the children's surnames legally changed to Jolie-Pitt. On January 19, 2006, a judge in Santa Monica, California approved the name-change request, however, it is still unknown whether or not Pitt has been able to successfully adopt Jolie's children.
On May 27, 2006, Jolie gave birth to the couple's first biological child, a daughter named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, at night at the Cottage Medi-Clinic Hospital in Swakopmund, Namibia. Shiloh was born by a scheduled caesarean section, due to breech presentation, and Pitt was there to cut her umbilical cord. The couple's Los Angeles obstetrician was assisted by local staff. Shiloh, according to a longstanding translation from the Bible, has come to mean "the peaceful one." Shiloh is also significant as the site of a crucial battle in the American Civil War where over 23 thousand soldiers were killed, wounded or missing (see Battle of Shiloh).
"Angie and baby are fantastic," a source close to the couple told People on May 28. "Brad was at her side during the birth." People was also told by Namibia's Environment and Tourism Deputy Minister, Leon Jooste, that "Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt will, according to Namibian law, be allowed to obtain Namibian citizenship, if the parents should choose to do so." He added that discussion of the child's passport will be taken up with her parents "at a later stage."
In September 2006 it was reported that the couple had developed a liking to the United Kingdom and were interested in setting up a base there permanently. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are rumoured to be spending up to £30million on a property in Somerford Keynes, near Cirencester, UK. The couple have even expressed their love of British television soap culture, such as Emmerdale and Eastenders.
Though reluctant to embrace celebrity status, the philanthropic Pitt has been an active supporter of research into diseases such as AIDS. Unlike many Hollywood celebrities, he has remained largely nonpartisan, working with members of both parties to help fight poverty, disease, and improve global environmental conditions. Along with U2 frontman Bono, Pitt has used his celebrity to campaign for assistance to Africa, and he is the marquee spokesman for the ONE Campaign. Pitt appeared in a ONE Campaign commercial with TV televangelist Pat Robertson and other public figures. Brad Pitt has also traveled in 2001 overseas with several Ocean's Eleven co-stars to Turkey to visit and entertain U.S. troops.
He has also in recent months been using his star status to promote the reconstruction of New Orleans with eco-friendly materials and designs.
In the October 2006 issue of Esquire magazine, Brad Pitt expressed his support for same-sex marriage, saying that "Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able."
Pitt is also highly interested in architecture, and spent many years redesigning the house that he and Jennifer Aniston once owned together. Brad has studied Computer aided design and is reported to have met Frank Gehry.
In popular culture
In 1995, he was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 25 sexiest stars in film history. Pitt has also twice been named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. He is consistently rated among the world's sexiest men in women's polls worldwide.
Brad Pitt is mentioned in a number of songs including rap and R&B songs by Jay-Z/Punjabi MC's Beware of the Boys and The Black Eyed Peas f/Talib et.al in the song "Like That". He was also mentioned by Shania Twain in the song "That Don't Impress Me Much" in which she makes a reference to Brad Pitt as being the model of male perfection.
Pitt has been awarded a Blue Peter badge.