The Curious Case Of Brad Pitt

Over the last 20 years, Brad Pitt has consistently been near the top of Hollywood’s A-List.  Pitt’s box office success is legendary; however, it is his stance on human rights and foreign affairs that I admire most.  I had long heard my wife and her friends talking about Pitt's more obvious attributes, but it was his work in 1997’s ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ that really changed my view on his talent and gave me the impetus to want to review his past movie roles.  Through this process, I found the subject matter of ‘A River Runs Through It’ pretty compelling and was entertained by the movie.  To this point in his career, he has held roles in over 65 film over a 25 year career.

His Looks Opened the Door

Brad Pitt has come a long way since his first credited role in 1987. In the movie 'Hunk', Pitt played the highly coveted role of “Guy at beach with drink.” It would have been easy for him to become typecast based on his physical appearance; however, his acting talent overcame the Hollywood stereotype to propel his success at the box office. 

The public's first widespread introduction to Brad Pitt came in the 1991 cult classic ‘Thelma & Louise’. This movie targeted the female demographic, and Pitt was able to make a lasting impression on moviegoers in multiple shirtless scenes as a cowboy hitchhiker and love interest. If you were to poll viewers today what they most remembered about this film, most would recall either the two main characters driving over a cliff at the end of the movie or a shirtless Pitt.

His Talent Propelled his Box Office Success

Pitt used his scene stealing performance in Thelma & Louise to land his first headlining part in 1992's 'A River Runs Through It.' In a conscious decision to showcase his acting ability, Pitt took a more dramatic role as the rebellious son of a Presbyterian minister.  The result was a meaningful look at how lofty societal expectations can wreak havoc on the relationship between father and son.  After seeing this movie, I strengthened my resolve to not let the weight of others expectations derail my own plans for happiness.

Finding his place on the A-List

In 1995, Brad Pitt became a bona fide movie star, appearing in the thriller 'Se7en' and earning his first Academy Award nomination in the scientific thriller '12 Monkeys.'

While Pitt's early movies made him the apple of woman’s eyes, 1999's 'Fight Club' transformed his movie appeal across both genders. Young men everywhere wanted to emulate Pitt's Tyler Durden, a stylish entrepreneur with a penchant for underground fighting and causing general chaos.  To this day, I still hear references to the iconic line “Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club”.

As Pitt's career advanced, simply signing him on to a film could guarantee box office success. He seemed to take less controversial roles at this stage, somehow preferring to play it safe.  He played the smooth talking womanizer Rusty Ryan in all three of the 'Ocean's Eleven' movies, gaining top billing with George Clooney amongst an all-star ensemble cast. 2005's 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' garnered headlines as rumors of a romance between then-married Brad Pitt and co-star Angelina Jolie.  This romance resulted in the breakup of his marriage, however Jolie pushed Pitt to become more responsible with his celebrity and endorse worthy causes.  He became a vocal proponent of the environment, and in particular green building technologies.  He also got involved with AIDS and other humanitarian initiatives. 

Pitt at 50

This December, Pitt will turn 50.  He is a now proven entity in Hollywood and appears to be once again taking on roles that push his comfort zone.  He is at the stage in his career where he is maturing, his boyish good looks no longer a factor in the roles he takes on.  Pitt earned his second and third Academy Award nominations for 2008's 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and 'Moneyball' in 2011.

As Brad's career has evolved, he has definitely proven himself as one of the most iconic actors in Showbiz history. Together with his 'Plan B' production company, Pitt shows no signs of slowing down as he approaches his 50's and perhaps he can even find time to reprise his inaugural role as “Guy at beach with drink.”

I would be interested to hear about your favorite Brad Pitt movie role. My tastes run along the lines of 'Seven Years in Tibet' and 'A River Runs Through It', while my wife would be happy with any sort of 'chick flick'.  Please leave your recommendation in the comments box below.