Personal detailsName: Brad Pitt
Born: 18 December 1963 (Age: 51)
Where: Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA
Height: 5' 11"
Awards: Won 1 Golden Globe; nominated for 2 Oscars and 2 BAFTAs
All about this star
A critic once wrote that Brad Pitt combined "the matinee idol looks of Gary Cooper with the sex symbol loveliness of Marilyn Monroe". It's a line that sums up Pitt's pin-up appeal, but would certainly annoy the pants off Pitt himself. After all, he's spent years trying to explode a reputation as a Himbo, taking on a series of lead roles and cameos that should really have proven to the world that he is in fact a very fine actor indeed. He's played a dazed and confused pot-head, a near-incomprehensible street-fighting traveller, an IRA terrorist, a reluctant vampire, a Nazi mountain-climber, a psycho on the run, a mental patient dedicated to the destruction of world order, a dim-witted extortionist, a man who ages backwards, and he dared to act wholly unaided, later to be surrounded by cartoons. Dustin Hoffman was certainly correct when he said "Next to that kid, we all look like onions", but after two Oscar nominations he's surely earned our respect by now.
He was born William Bradley Pitt on the 18th of December, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and remains a mid-Westerner to the core. He was raised, alongside brother Doug and sister Julie, in Springfield, Missouri. His father, Bill, managed a trucking firm, working six days a week for 36 years - something of which Brad is very proud. His mother, Jane, was a High School counselor, but his mind-set was influenced more by his dad. "Where I grew up," he once said "you deal. You get through it, power through it, straight up the middle. And you don't complain". It's an attitude that's served him well as he's battled the improbable pressures of stardom.
Due to Bill's success, the Pitts never really wanted for anything, and Brad in particular used this as a springboard to try everything. A decent fellow, he was brought up as a Baptist, singing in the church choir. He loved movies, later recalling a fine day spent at an Ape-athon, watching all five Planet Of The Apes films, back-to-back. At Kickapoo High School he was involved in everything. He was a member of the golf, tennis and swimming teams, as well as the Key and Forensics clubs. He was into debating, school government and school musicals.
Graduating in 1982, he attended the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism, but also concentrating on advertising. Indeed, his ambition was to be an art director. He joined a fraternity, Sigma Chi, but always remained very close to his family. Fellow students recall him writing letters to his mother and grandma while in class.
His choice of career was something of a surprise to those around him. He'd acted in several fraternity shows, but never really revealed a desire to act professionally. Music seemed to be more his thing. But then suddenly, with no real experience behind him, he simply went for it. With two credits still needed before he graduated, in 1986 he climbed into his Datsun (known as Runaround Sue) and, with just $325 in his pocket, took off for California. "In my head," he later said "I was done with college. I was on to the next thing".
The father of a girl he knew had an apartment in California, occupied only by a housekeeper, and here he stayed for a month, rent free. Having made a few friends, he then moved into a flat in North Hollywood, along with eight other guys. They had no furniture, just a TV, a toaster oven and a stereo system. They all slept on the floor in the front room. It was basically Bloke Heaven. For money, they'd go down to the Job Factory, picking up odd jobs here and there. At one point, he had a bet with a buddy as to who could score the most humiliating job. Brad won hands down, dressing up as a giant chicken for El Pollo Loco and hanging out on the corner of Sunset Boulevard in 100 degree heat. Aside from this, he spent time selling cigarettes, delivering fridges, and, bizarrely, assisting a soap opera writer. He even worked driving strippers around in a limousine.
Pitt took the acting lark deadly seriously. He studied under coach Roy London, and would continue to do so for six years, from the off impressing his fellow students with his emotional freedom. And work came quickly. He appeared in the sit-com Head Of The Class, for a while dating the show's star Robin Givens, much to the disgruntlement of her ex-hubbie Mike Tyson. There was also an episode of Growing Pains. But there were better jobs than this. He appeared as Chris in the long-running soap Another World, which has variously featured Anne Heche, Ray Liotta, Kelsey Grammer and, coincidentally, the co-star of one of Brad's later hits, Morgan Freeman. After this, while auditioning for the show Our House, he was asked to read for another part, and found himself playing Shalane McCall's boyfriend Charles in Dallas. He dated her for real too, though she was a mere 16.
There were a few movie roles too. He had uncredited parts in both Less Than Zero and Charlie Sheen's No Man's Land. Then came Cutting Class, about a maniac stalking cheerleaders. He began dating co-star Jill Schoelen, who earlier been seeing Keanu Reeves. Then came the first starring role, in Dark Side Of The Sun, where he played a young American taken by his family to the Adriatic to find a remedy for his terrible skin condition. The movie was shot in Yugoslavia, with Brad being paid $1,523 a week for seven weeks. It was looking good. Then, with editing nearly complete, civil war broke out and much of the film was lost in the ensuing chaos.