For decades, it’s been easy to imagine Brad Pitt as, at the least, the leading man in a soap opera that plays out across tabloids, gossip columns and red carpets, if not something more. Some cultures have had deities, others nobility. America pioneered celebrity worship, and we have some bizarre need to turn anyone with a pleasing face and penchant for entertaining into larger than life figures we set above the rest. Pitt was at the apex of the fame ladder, and had one of Hollywood’s leading ladies at his side. Until, of course, one day last September when the world learned that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were divorcing.
After some initial bumps, the couple, however, has seemed determined to not let their separation play out as a juicy episode of that celebrity soap opera, and have opted to keep their divorce and custody proceedings out of the courts. Instead, in an effort to do what’s best for their children, the family’s united front has now been one to remind the world that they are not God-like figures, but rather humans who are going through a tough time right now who are entitled to a little bit of privacy when they need it.
Which brings us to Brad Pitt’s shockingly honest cover story interview with GQ Style. Not honest in the sense that he’s at all interested in laying out the details about what exactly happened or is intent on settling the score on every fictional tabloid report, but honest in the sense that he’s completely open about being a 53-year-old divorced father ofsix who has made some mistakes and is just trying to get through it all right now.
In a Q+A, Pitt talks about his past issues with drugs and alcohol, his recent interest in both therapy and sculpture, and his own relationship with both acting (he’s not retiring, but not quite as interested in it as he used to be) and fame.
In one of the most talked about passages, Pitt declares that he’s been sober for about six months now after a lifetime in which he was constantly dabbling in something or other (mostly weed and booze, as he admits).
“I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something,” he said. “And you realize that a lot of it is, um—cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings. I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem. And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.”
Pitt also confirms reports that he’s been getting through the divorce by turning to sculpture—”There’s a lot of manual labor, which is good for me right now,” he said, but isn’t necessarily just listening to Bon Iver records. He’s also been very into Frank Ocean and Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear lately. Therapy also seems to help. “I just started therapy. I love it, I love it. I went through two therapists to get to the right one,” he said.
Mostly though, the interview is notable for the fact that the man who is Hollywood’s idea of perfect is dealing with the idea that he’s not actually perfect and never will be.
“For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street,” he says at one point.
“Sitting with those horrible feelings, and needing to understand them, and putting them into place,” he says at another point of accepting his own shortcomings. “In the end, you find: I am those things I don’t like. That is a part of me. I can’t deny that. I have to accept that. And in fact, I have to embrace that. I need to face that and take care of that. Because by denying it, I deny myself. I am those mistakes. For me every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy.”
The full interview is, of course, well worth your time for the full effect.
Pitt isn’t the first celebrity to be so open, but he may be one of the biggest. When you consider that some of Pitt’s contemporaries can lead themselves to believe that they’re pivotal figures in a controversial space religion or are entitled to spend $15,000-a-day on cotton balls if they so chose its still notable that not all A-listers are completely distorted by fame.
Of course, Pitt’s professional career still continues. He’ll be seen next in Netflix movie War Machine and a sequel to World War Z is reportedly in the works with Pitt’s friend David Fincher reportedly interested in directing.
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