GREAT PERFORMANCES YOU MAY NOT HAVE SEEN:
Babel (Golden Globe-nominated performance opposite Cate Blanchett, as her husband trying to keep her alive in a strange land after she’s been shot seemingly by terrorists)
True Romance (quick turn as drugged-out roommate)
Sleepers (a lawyer out for revenge)
Spy Game (a spy, opposite Robert Redford)
Seven Years in Tibet (Nazi turned Buddhist)
Meet Joe Black (the angel of death)
THE ANTI-HERO PITT:
Thelma & Louise (a seductive thief, opposite Geena Davis)
Kalifornia (a psycho killer)
Se7en (a detective with a bad temper, opposite Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman)
12 Monkeys (Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a mental patient)
Burn After Reading (an inept blackmailer)
The Mexican (an inept gangster)
Fight Club (a soap salesman who sets up the title men’s organization)
The whole series has such good-time brilliance, it can’t be ignored. Though Pitt was pivotal to its success, he still is part of a team effort.
Inglourious Basterds (a Nazi-killing Apache)
Ocean’s Eleven (Rusty, Ocean’s right-hand man)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated performance as the title character, who ages backwards)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (an assassin married to another assassin out to get him, opposite Angelina Jolie)
Legends of the Fall (Golden Globe-nominated performance as Tristan, a brother caught up in a Montana family melodrama)
A River Runs Through It (a prodigal son growing up in Montana)
Interview with the Vampire (Louis, the vampire, opposite Tom Cruise)
THE REAL PITT:
Ocean’s Eleven, et al.
Not so much a con man as the consummate actor, relishing in each new identity, who also happens to be a bit of a Renaissance man, knowledgeable about, say, earthquakes enough to con Al Pacino’s casino impresario into believing his hotel’s sitting on top of a fault. Grounded enough, so to speak, that he’s the only one who isn’t awestruck by his looks. He hasn’t played a designer or even a dad, which are his great loves.
Brad Pitt disproves the notion that handsome men can’t do comedy, even really silly comedy such as “Burn After Reading.” Part of the fun of those roles is that he almost but not quite disappears in them, so the winking, self-effacing superstar literally puts the joke on himself. Certainly, the steps of his career ladder are dramas, but the sidesteps into comedy actually raise his popularity and his overall stature.
BITS AND QUIRKS:
The side grin, the side talk, with and without the cheek, the side lean, often with his hand in his pocket, usually leaning from the waist with an ultra-straight back. The blank stare (not just in the comedies) with the mouth puckered up. The cocky James Dean slouch, with a huge boyish grin. Pushing the jaw out as if he chews tobacco.
MR. AND MRS. SMITH
The shoot-out in the department store > The messed-up assassination with the dune buggy > With Vince Vaughn at the diner > Destroying their house > Having dinner after they’ve just found out each other’s secret > The counselor scenes, straight to the camera.
Playing the seismologist to Al Pacino > At the airport in the end (both with Clooney, and afterward, with the slot machine) > With Clooney, planning the heists
BURN AFTER READING
In the car with John Malkovich, trying to make the deal > At the Russian embassy > Looking over Frances McDormand’s shoulder at the health club.
MEET JOE BLACK
At the hospital, with the Gullah woman > The boardroom scenes with Anthony Hopkins > The progression of the love scenes > Coming over the bridge at the end.
In the desert by the high wires, with Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman, trying to control his anger when the surprise is revealed.
Negotiating with the other passengers on the bus so they won’t leave his wife and him.