Brad Pitt may have been in the headlines recently for reasons other than his acting career, but he is certainly back with a bang this week as his wartime drama Allied hits cinemas, with the great man starring alongside Marion Cotillard.
To celebrate the impending release of Allied, for which you can find our review here, some of the team at Filmoria have highlighted the performances from Pitt’s illustrious career and explained just why he is still one of the best leading men around.
1. Louis de Pointe du Luc – Interview With The Vampire
When it comes to brooding vampires, none do it better than Louis de Pointe du Luc. A creation from the mind of author Anne Rice for The Vampire Chronicles, Louis was far more reserved than the flamboyant Lestat.
After the death of his wife during childbirth, Louis longs for the release of death, but lacks the courage to commit suicide. He begins to frequent taverns and other places of ill repute, instigating fights and duels in order that someone might kill him. It was during one of these tavern brawls that Louis catches the eye of Lestat, who makes him his immortal companion.
While Louis and Lestat are often at odds with one another, they eventually form an uneasy truce and Louis takes on a “maternal” role when Claudia, a young Lestat protégé, enters his life.
Played by Brad Pitt in 1994’s Interview With The Vampire, Louis instantly became a fan favourite, especially among women. While I’m personally not a huge Pitt fan, I do love his performance in this film, especially when you see the confliction of bloodlust upon his face. Pitt proved that brooding vampires were sexy, paving the way for future bloodsuckers, like Angel.
While the fans love this film and his accomplishment in bringing Rice’s story to life, Brad Pitt classes this as his least favourite performance.
Regardless of that stance, Louis de Pointe du Luc, and Brad Pitt, will forever be immortalized in Top 10 Vampire lists the world over.
Rhiannon Elizabeth Irons
2. Tyler Durden – Fight Club
Playing the darker and more twisted side to Edward Norton’s Narrator, Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden is still one of the most electrifying screen performances to date, and Pitt’s stand-out role.
Effortlessly exuding the swagger needed for this complex role, Pitt as Durden is instantly likeable despite the obvious darkness the character possesses as well. You could be here for hours dissecting every single part of this film in great detail, and as many know the twist of Fight Club by now, Tyler isn’t real at all and is a figment of the insomniac narrator’s imagination. This again makes it an incredibly difficult role to play as not only does Tyler need to stand out as a character in his own right in order for the audience to initially believe that he is his own person, but there also has to be enough subtlety in the performance for the twist to make sense that he and Norton are in fact the same person.
Pitt not only brings tremendous and believable physicality to this role, but is responsible for delivering some of the finest, and most memorable movie monologues. You might not be able to talk about Fight Club, but you absolutely should be talking about Brad Pitt’s incredible performance in the aforementioned society which may or may not involve fighting!
3. Roland – By The Sea
Up until September this year, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were Hollywood’s power couple – “Brangelina” as the world fondly dubbed; a seemingly unstoppable partnership and force. Prior to divorce filings and child custody tribulations, the duo starred alongside each other for the first time since Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) in a film directed by Jolie herself (actually named Jolie Pitt on the credits…)
Jolie’s third feature behind the camera, 2015’s By the Sea, is an evocative and potent arthouse drama which intricately details the destruction of a marriage, and how grief and desperation can obliterate the happiness and lives of others. The picture was widely scorned, with many dubbing it as little more than a vanity project, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jolie truly demonstrates her knowledge of European cinema, and taps into fond memories of master auteurs such as Michelangelo Antonioni and Rainer Werner Fassbinder throughout.
Pitt’s performance as Roland, a successful American writer who arrives in France searching for inspiration is decadently realised. He and wife Vanessa (Jolie) occupy the same space and time, yet they could not be further detached. A small balcony is paired with an overwhelming ocean; gorgeously showcasing the distance between partners. Pitt gives much body to a role which asks lots of him, even if it all isn’t immediately obvious. His quietly restrained and fractured posture speaks volumes, and his relationship with alcohol is progressively poisonous. By the Sea is far from a jovial watch, but it is a startlingly impressive one. For two titans of blockbuster filmmaking to reach for something meaningful and poetic is most admirable, and one urges all to give it a chance.
4. Billy Beane – Moneyball
Playing a general manager of a baseball team in the time of his career when he is considered ‘the nearly man’, bracing himself for multiple dramatic exits from his star players. Brad Pitt’s performance as Billy Beane in Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, is perhaps a fitting representation of his own career trajectory. A figure constrained by a limited budget, as he laments the superficial and marketable stance of those around him. A handsome actor once constrained by certain expectations, as he rebelled against what were considered obvious roles to undertake. Pitt’s Beane is a walking and compelling contradiction, as his charismatics and steely stare talking business jar with the frustrations that linger inside him and the brilliant low-key nuances of his familial exchanges, particularly with his daughter.
In an audacious bid to innovate the way he analyses and picks his team as he looks to achieve baseball’s equivalent to Leicester City, it’s perhaps fitting he shares the screen with comedic star Jonah Hill, playing considerably against type as economics graduate Peter Brand. Defiant as the likes of the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman question his judgment and style of coaching, his terrific turn here capped off a welcome late 00’s/early 10’s resurgence as the Tarantino’s and Malick’s of the world tapped into his star power. Whilst solidifying the true acting prowess that he possesses and a blossoming versatility, with one line of Sorkin’s superb script sealing it emphatically. ‘Adapt or die’.
5. Chad – Burn After Reading
For me, Chad in the Coen’s Burn After Reading is one of the most relevant and wonderfully executed characters in the last 15 years. I’m slightly biased as I adore the Coens as filmmakers, but how many films can you honestly single out a Brad Pitt performance? 5, at best? Throughout the film’s run time Chad is enveloped by this unquenchable health regime and work dedication, where he’s completely at ease with himself and everything around him. Confident, brash, charming and a little naive of real-world implications, Pitt capably showcases spot-on comedic range and versatility as events unfold.
Chad rides a line of being insufferable and enchanting. His attempts to turn a chance discovery into an opportunity for extortion in Burn After Reading reveal that his half-wittedness and is in way above his head. Outing him as neither intelligent, nor able to hold his own away from his comfort zone with outsiders – leading to embarrassingly awkward predicaments. However, the proof of how much of a buffoon he is plays out with such believability, you pitifully begin to root for the guy.
What I truly admire here is the adaptability Pitt demonstrates. On paper it may seem like an instant write-off, but it works on nearly every level. From his body language, his expressions to his delivery. Chad’s disposition forever reminding of today’s oblivious obsession on health – And thinking about it comparatively to now, it’s truly satire well ahead of its time.
6. Se7en – Detective David Mills
Teaming up with David Fincher for the first of three films over a duration of 13 years, Brad Pitt had struck up a kind of modernised Scorsese/DeNiro partnership with said director. Here, he plays detective David Mills, teaming up with fellow homicide detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as they try to track down a deadly killer who goes under the alias name of John Doe while solving a puzzle of gruesome deaths he’s left in his wake based on the seven deadly sins.
Both Mills and Somerset discover they have bitten off more than they can chew as they go deep into this dark underworld, realising that not only is this John Doe completely insane but also really well-educated and incredibly smart too. With each death being more grotesque and horrifying than the last, time is starting to run out for our two detectives.
Who would have thought that by the end, Mills would become the last piece that would complete Doe’s masterpiece, a masterpiece that would be studied and talked about for years to come. It also coincidentally has gone down as being one the most shocking climaxes ever made and helps cement the film as being arguably the greatest mystery crime thriller of the 90s.