Pitt, Brad


Pitt, Brad
▪ 2009
William Bradley Pitt 
born Dec. 18, 1963, Shawnee, Okla.

      American superstar Brad Pitt continued to demonstrate his versatility as an actor in 2008, with two new films: the zany Burn After Reading, in which he portrayed a somewhat dim-witted would-be blackmailer, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a poignant fantasy about a man who ages backward. Each was also a big departure from Pitt's most recent outings: the Oscar-nominated drama Babel (2006), the period western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), and Ocean's Thirteen (2007), the latest sequel to the comedy caper films Ocean's Eleven (2001) and Ocean's Twelve (2004).

      Pitt grew up in Springfield, Mo., and attended (1983–87) the University of Missouri before dropping out just short of graduation to move to California and pursue an acting career. After playing minor television and movie roles, Pitt captured the public's attention as a charming scoundrel in the film Thelma & Louise (1991). He followed up with such popular movies as A River Runs Through It (1992), Interview with the Vampire (1994), and Legends of the Fall (1994), after which People magazine named him that year's Sexiest Man Alive (he held the title again in 2000). Refusing to be typecast by his good looks, however, Pitt starred as a police detective in the gritty thriller Se7en (1995) and as a demented malcontent in the fantasy Twelve Monkeys (1995), for which he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award. He again deliberately played against type as Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer in Seven Years in Tibet (1997), an Irish Republican Army terrorist in The Devil's Own (1997), a modern-day Grim Reaper in Meet Joe Black (1998), an underground boxer in Fight Club (1999), and the Greek warrior Achilles in Troy (2004).

      The action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) paired Pitt with actress Angelina Jolie. They soon began an offscreen relationship (though Pitt was married) and became a media sensation, earning the joint tabloid monicker “Brangelina.” After Pitt divorced his wife, actress Jennifer Aniston, he adopted Jolie's two children. The pair had their first biological child in May 2006. The next year they adopted a boy from Vietnam, and in 2008 they added biological twins to their growing family.

      Pitt and Jolie often used their celebrity status as a platform for speaking out on behalf of causes about which they cared. Pitt cofounded and was actively involved in Not on Our Watch, a campaign that directed resources to areas of the world suffering humanitarian crises (notably the Sudanese province of Darfur). In 2006 he esatblished Make It Right, a multimillion-dollar project to construct environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, to which he pledged to match $5 million in contributions. He also headed his own film-production company, Plan B Entertainment. With as many as three new movies due out in 2009 and more in the planning stages, however, Pitt clearly was not neglecting his many-sided acting career.

Anne Siska

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▪ American actor
byname of  William Bradley Pitt 
born Dec. 18, 1963, Shawnee, Okla., U.S.

      American actor known for his good looks and portrayal of unconventional characters.

      Pitt grew up in Springfield, Mo., and attended (1983–87) the University of Missouri before dropping out just short of graduation to move to California and pursue an acting career. After playing minor television and movie roles, Pitt captured the public's attention as a charming scoundrel in the film Thelma & Louise (1991). He followed up with such movies as A River Runs Through It (1992), Interview with the Vampire (1994), and Legends of the Fall (1994). Pitt then starred as a police detective in the gritty thriller Se7en (1995) and as a demented malcontent in the fantasy Twelve Monkeys (1995), for which he won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award.

      Pitt deliberately played against type as Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer in Seven Years in Tibet (1997), an Irish Republican Army terrorist in The Devil's Own (1997), a modern-day personification of death in Meet Joe Black (1998), and an underground boxer in Fight Club (1999). In 2000 Pitt married actress Jennifer Aniston. The following year he starred in Ocean's Eleven, a comedy caper about con artists. The film was a major success and led to the sequels Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). In 2004 Pitt portrayed the Greek warrior Achilles in Troy.

      The action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) paired Pitt with actress Angelina Jolie (Jolie, Angelina), with whom he became romantically involved. Pitt continued to lend his talents to films covering a wide range of subject matter, including Babel (2006), a film that traces the intersecting lives of characters from divergent backgrounds, and the period western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Pitt further demonstrated his versatility in 2008, portraying a dim-witted would-be blackmailer in the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading and a man who ages backward in the poignant fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. His chameleonic turn in the latter film earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. He also headed his own film-production company, Plan B Entertainment.

 Pitt's involvement with Jolie and his 2005 divorce from Aniston were intensely scrutinized by the tabloid press. In 2006 Pitt adopted Jolie's two children, Maddox and Zahara, whom she had adopted from Cambodia and Ethiopia, respectively. The couple had their first biological child, Shiloh, in May 2006. The next year they adopted a boy, Pax, from Vietnam, and in 2008 they added biological twins, Knox and Vivienne, to their family.

      Pitt and Jolie often used their celebrity status as a platform for speaking out on behalf of a number of humanitarian causes. Pitt cofounded and was actively involved in Not on Our Watch, a campaign that directed resources to developing countries in crisis, notably the Sudanese province of Darfur. In 2006 he established Make It Right, a multimillion-dollar project to construct environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina (Katrina, Hurricane).

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Universalium. 2010.

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