Mad about Brad

When Brad Pitt told Oprah Winfrey he wasn’t sure every marriage could last forever, it sparked a storm about the strength of his relationship with Jennifer Aniston. But with fatherhood beckoning, he is now happier than ever, both professionally and personally.

Brad Pitt is officially the world’s bestlooking man – it is a point all women have agreed on since he first hit our screens in Thelma & Louise in 1991. When he married Jennifer Aniston four years ago, Hollywood’s Hottest Couple was born.

Pitt, who turned 40 last year, loves pottering around, designing extensions to his and Aniston’s home in the Hollywood Hills, or curling up on the sofa to watch the Extreme Sports Channel. But perhaps this isn’t surprising when the paparazzi lurk round every corner, and every public kiss between the couple is interpreted as a desperate attempt to vanquish rumors that the marriage is falling apart.

The latest damage-limitation exercise occurred when reports surfaced that Pitt and Angelina Jolie were getting intimate on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith. At the same time, Pitt appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and made his famous remarks, “There is so much pressure from day one to be with someone forever and I’m not quite sure if it’s really in our nature to be with one person for the rest of our lives.” Cue shots of Pitt and Aniston walking hand in hand in Rome while he took a break from shooting Ocean’s Twelve. ‘The rumors are just rubbish,” he said of those linking him to Jolie “and it’s hardly worth dignifying them by discussing them. I don’t care. In the end, people will believe what they want to believe anyway.”

Pitt’s even-handed attitude may be part of the wisdom he’s acquired with age. “I’m not busting a gut to prove myself any more,” he says. “I feel settled now, calmer. I used to love taking off on an adventure; now, as I get older, it’s harder to leave. I’ve got a good home, a good wife and good friends.”

MC: So, do you believe relationships can last forever?
BP: Well, some relationships just run their course, you know? You’ve got to be realistic about that. I don’t believe in looking at every previous relationship as a failure. All mine were great, but they just came to a natural end. Jen and I may not stay together forever, although I hope we will; but if we break up, it won’t be to do with Hollywood or the press.

What would make you break up?
If it stops working for us and it isn’t going to be so healthy in the long run. I think it takes courage to face the fact that something should end. In many ways, it’s easier to keep things going. But Jen and I are rock-solid right now.

Is married life everything you hoped?
It’s better. It’s great. I like being married. I especially like being married to Jen.

Are you a very couple-y couple?
We can be, if you want us to be. We can do all the holding hands and smoochy stuff. I’d just say we’re a typical couple. We bicker over household chores and who forgot to turn off the coffee machine. I believe I’m the one who’s left to do it all, and she believes exactly the same thing. But we’re great friends and a good fit. I’m the cynical bastard and she’s the warm, sweet human being who slaps me around a bit when I get too much. I’m a glass-half-empty guy. I think happiness is overrated and misery underrated.

Any plans for kids?
We’re still in rehearsals for that [laughs]. I’m almost ready. But I’m still a little too selfish. I want Jennifer to myself for a little while longer.

Would you make a good dad?
Yeah, I think so. Family would make everything complete.

And change your lives completely.
In all the best ways. We’re not at all concerned about a baby interfering with our careers. We are pursuing this relationship first and our careers a very definite second. I think that gives our marriage a better chance of working out.

Complete the phrase, ‘Love is…’
Oh, I can’t do that. Your ideas of what it is change as you get older. You thought you were desperately in love when you had the little girlfriend in sixth grade. Everything then was about the way you felt, right there, the quick hit. Now, what’s important is how intimacy changes, develops, matures. It’s about making a life with someone and compromising and empathizing in order to accommodate them. It’s romance as well as love. And I currently have it the best I’ve ever had. Romance is cool. And love should be kept creative.

Does it conquer all?
I don’t accept that it does, or that, in marriage, two people magically become one. I think it’s about helping each other become two strong, independent people. Empathy isn’t the same thing as rolling over. It’s your different opinions and approaches to things that keep everything fresh and vital. Before you get married, you should definitely work out some of your major malfunctions. But don’t file down all your rough edges and try to make yourself over to be the person you think your partner would like you to be. That’s never going to work.

How does a typical Pitt/Aniston night in pan out?
I write bad songs and play my guitar. I love making music, but I seriously suck. I watch DVDs, I go out biking – I know that’s not strictly night-in stuff – and I play with the dogs. Jen and I hang out with friends, barbecue, go on road trips. That’s going out again, strictly speaking, isn’t it? Whatever we do, we have a pretty good life.

What makes you passionate?
Besides acting? Architecture. That’s what I originally studied at college. I didn’t continue because I found it too heavy a program. Those guys didn’t have any fun; they were working day and night. To put it another way, they were disciplined and I wasn’t. I saw college as something else–an opportunity to big-time socialize.

Why architecture?
It moves me like music. It has rhythms, harmonies… it’s symphonic. Part of what I like about it is the discovery. The idea of an individual, bent over a piece of paper, sketching a form, a building, working out the space, seeing where it takes them. At its best, in the work of people like Daniel Libeskind [who is leading the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site] and Frank Gehry, it just soars. It’s a triumph of the human spirit. I stood across the water from the Guggenheim in Bilbao and had absolute shivers. It has a physical effect on me.

Is it difficult living in the public eye?
Only when the paparazzi camp outside my house or I find people picking through my trash. Sometimes people just show up at my home, and I don’t know what they expect me to do. Invite them in for coffee? Trust me – it’s not going to happen.

How about seeing your life in the papers?
I never look at the tabloids, so it doesn’t bother me. Interviews are different. Once I realized I have nothing to hide, it took the pressure off them. Of course, it helps to have an entirely unsensational private life.

So how do you de-stress?
I sing. I turn up my music so it’s deafening and I sing along. I love to drive my car and blow my horn and shout at people – that’s a great way of venting your frustrations. You can yell till you’re blue in the face, or you can play the nice guy and let someone in ahead of you. It makes you feel as if you’re Master of the Universe.

Which is your favorite of your films?
It’s hard for me to judge anything I’m in. I prefer to rate them according to how enjoyable the filmmaking experience was. I loved doing Twelve Monkeys with Terry Gilliam. He’s the most creative director I’ve ever worked with. The role he gave me was a little off-center and it helped get the attention of other directors and convinced them I was able to go beyond leading-men roles. But I’ve enjoyed working with Steven Soderbergh the most. I enjoy the free-form atmosphere he creates for the actors; he’s great at getting you to leave your ego at the door and get on and do your job.

Can you hold your hand up and say: ‘I’ve done some real stinkers’?
Oh, of course. Every actor can. Because you never know how movies are going to turn out. Even when you have a great script, you can still end up with a piece of trash. My criteria in picking projects is simply to go for something that interests me or that involves people I respect.

How important is money to you, given that you’re on $20 million a film?
It really isn’t about money for me these days. It doesn’t have to be. It’s about: does this get me excited? Does this inspire me? Does this get the juices going? Otherwise, what’s the point? I mean, making movies takes up a lot of time and it’s a big emotional investment, too. If I got to do a good character role, I’d be happy on $20.

Is that why you’ve started your own production company – to bag good character parts?
The idea was more to create productions for Jennifer, though one day we might do something together. We’ve bought the rights to Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, and we might both appear in that, depending on the script.

This article has been edited for The complete story appeared in Marie Claire Sep.2004.

September 1, 2004 | Interview | this post contains affiliate links