Brad Pitt today is one of the most popular and successful actors in Hollywood. He's been in countless movies that have received critical acclaim, major awards consideration, and box office success. He's the definition of a movie star.
These days, we're used to seeing Pitt in strong roles in movies from great directors. Seeing him nominated for his sixth Golden Globe earlier this month for his role in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood was no real shock. It's the sort of role, the sort of movie, and the sort of result, that we've largely come to expect from Pitt.
However, that wasn't always the case. In fact you can actually pinpoint the moment in Brad Pitt's career when the types of movies and roles he appeared in began to change, and Brad Pitt will tell you it all came about as a result of 2004's Troy. In an interview with the New York Times. Pitt admits that he was disappointed with that movie, and it resulted in him making a change to the way he decided on roles. Back in the early 2000s, Pitt admits he was making a lot of decisions based on advice from others...
Brad Pitt has been a leading man since the mid-90s, following roles in Interview with a Vampire and Legends of the Fall. He made a lot of films in the next decade or so, some of them, like 12 Monkeys, Fight Club, and Seven would still be considered some of his best work. But there's also a lot of work in there that many have probably forgotten about and for good reason, many of them are forgettable films.
It would be interesting to know which movie Brad Pitt was interested in back then that he didn't end up taking. There have been several situations like that in his career.
Clearly, Brad Pitt was trying to find his place in Hollywood, trying out lots of different roles in different types of movies. As Pitt further explains, the issue with Troy wasn't that he choose it over some other movie and now regrets the decision. In fact, it turns out Pitt didn't really choose Troy at all. It was simply that he discovered he didn't like being in the kind of movie that Troy was and so he decided going forward that he would choose roles that he wanted
If there's one sort of movie that is largely missing from Brad Pitt's filmography, it's the big budget action blockbuster. Troy is one of the few movies that might qualify as that, and it seems that while Pitt was making it he decided that he wasn't interested in any more. While Pitt has been at the center of the camera a lot in most of his movies, hell he's practically the only character in Ad Astra, there was clearly something different about Troy that he didn't like, though he bends over backwards to make it a "it's not you, it's me" sort of situation.
It would be quite interesting if things had gone differently on Troy. If Brad Pitt had enjoyed being the hero in a commercial action blockbuster, he might have become one of the central characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or found a place in a Star Wars movie. The closest thing he's done since Troy was World War Z, and even that was a less commercial take on the zombie movie genre than we're used to seeing.
Instead he decided he wanted to make very different movies, and you can see that in the choices he made. Following Troy Brad Pitt makes films like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Burn After Reading, making that Coen Brothers movie that he missed out on the first time around, Inglorious Bastards with Quentin Tarantino, The Tree of Life with Terrance Malik, and Moneyball. These are certainly not movies you would define as commercial.
In the end, the decision certainly worked out for Brad Pitt. While his movies might not be huge moneymakers, they tend to be successful. Critically, they are almost universally praised. A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes shows that few of the movies Brad Pitt has acted in since 2004 have been critically panned. There are a lot more of those negative reviews on his earlier films.
It seems that Brad Pitt going with his gut has been a good move for Brad Pitt. It's also good for the rest of us. He's making the movies he wants to make and we're getting some great films out of the deal.
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