Spotlight on the Stars: Brad Pitt

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For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s absolute bigger stars. He’s about as A-list as the A-list gets…the name? Well, Brad Pitt of course. Not only is he a movie star with all capital letters (MOVIE STAR!) and a top tier celebrity, he’s also developed into one of the industry’s best and most interesting actors as well. Pitt is the type of star that doesn’t rest on his laurels and often seems to attach himself to challenging material, something that will win the man an acting Oscar one day (he already won his first one last year for helping to produce Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave). As high as he’s soared already, the best could still be to come.

Pitt got his noticeable start in the business (after some uncredited acting jobs on the big screen and small spots on TV shows like 21 Jump Street, Another World, Dallas, and Growing Pains) with a supporting role in Thelma & Louise. The next year or so brought roles in films like Johnny Suede, Kalifornia, A River Runs Through It, and True Romance, but it was Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles that really began his ascent to the A-list. He certainly didn’t hurt his cause with work like Legends of the Fall, Se7en, and Twelve Monkeys (which got him his first Academy Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor). Factor in other work like The Devil’s Own, Meet Joe Black, Seven Years in Tibet, and Sleepers…well, the end result is that the man was a star.

Pitt has really become an A-lister with work like Fight Club. Ocean’s Eleven, Snatch, and Spy Game. That elevated him and allowed him to become a megastar in things such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Ocean’s Twelve, and Troy. He also made Babel, which helped signal that he’d be interested in helping auteurs tell stories as well. Sure, he cultivated celebrity status with Ocean’s Thirteen, but in the same breath he’d make The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Burn After Reading as well. The young A-list movie star Pitt was now officially one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. Since then, he’s continued to lend his talents to interesting work, including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds, Killing Them Softly, Moneyball, and The Tree of Life, just to name a few. He hasn’t abandoned franchise work either, as he’s the headliner of World War Z.

This week, he turns in another top notch performance in the World War II film Fury. It’s a terrific bit of acting and the complete opposite of the work that Pitt did in Inglourious Basterds. He’s intense but also tender as well at times. In another year, you’d certainly be able to consider him a factor in the Best Actor race. The field is too crowded for him this time around, but it’s further proof that Pitt isn’t going anywhere but up still, as hard as that is to believe.

As a producer, his taste in what to back has been very solid as well. Starting with the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, Pitt’s Plan B has put up money for an eclectic group of films. Just a sampling of his producing credits include 12 Years a Slave, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Departed, Kick-Ass, Killing Them Softly, A Mighty Heart, Moneyball, Running with Scissors, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Tree of Life, World War Z, and Year of the Dog. He’s a top notch producer, not just a top notch actor.

Overall, Pitt is one of the industry’s biggest names and perhaps the first one that you think of when you think of an A-list actor. No matter what he does, it’s a big deal, so his recent trend towards more unique works has really been a boon for all involved, including you the audience. Going forward, he has By the Sea, which his wife Angelina Jolie is writing and directing (the two of them are also starring), as well as most likely World War Z 2. This is a true A-lister, someone who can get just about anything off the ground and uses his powers for good. At this point, anything Pitt get involved in is worth paying attention to. I can’t wait to see what comes next for him…

Stay tuned for another look at an A-lister next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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