Brad Pitt has more than proven himself as a talented actor. Winning an Oscar for his role in the 2019 film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Pitt has shown he can play a plethora of characters in a wide variety of genres.
Moving into more substantial roles at a certain point in his career, the Academy Award winner revealed that his top pick for films he’s starred in ended up being a dud at the box office.
Brad Pitt tries to go against type
After his breakthrough role in Ridley Scott’s 1991 film Thelma & Louise, Pitt felt he began getting offers for cookie-cutter characters. “I was offered hitchhiker roles, which is no surprise,” Pitt told The New York Times in December. “I was also being offered romantic leads. For me in the ’90s, there was this strict imprint of what a leading man was.”
Striving to go against type in the 1993 thriller Kalifornia, Pitt starred as a psychopathic murderer alongside Juliette Lewis and David Duchovny.
“It’s kind of a B film, but it was important for me,” Pitt explained of Kalifornia. “I was going against the things I was getting at the time. I got to do character work in it, and there’s humor laid in there, too. … What I’m pinpointing with Kalifornia is a moment in which you can tell yourself that the box is bigger than the one you’re being defined in,” Pitt said.
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In his NYT interview, Pitt revealed that he’s gotten more selective with age. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of thinking, If I am the one to play something, what can I bring that’s unique?” he said.
Despite a myriad of roles any actor would envy, Pitt made a conscious effort to look for projects that he could truly elevate after a disappointing experience in the 2004 film Troy.
“Troy became a commercial kind of thing. Every shot was like, Here’s the hero!” Pitt explained. “There was no mystery. So about that time I made a decision that I was only going to invest in quality stories, for lack of a better term. It was a distinct shift that led to the next decade of films.”
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Brad Pitt’s favorite was a commercial flop
In his quest for taking on projects of more substance, Pitt began to care less about the cash profits and more about content. In the 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Pitt played James after contacting director Andrew Dominik in the hopes of working together.
“I called Andrew and said, ‘Hey, if you’ve got anything that I fit, I’ll do it.’ And he said, ‘I do.’ And I said, ‘Okay, I’m in,’” Pitt recalled to Leonard Maltin at the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January, according to Collider. “And we ended up producing that. That was near and dear to me, as well as the 10 other people who’ve seen it.”
The Oscar winner explained that the film represented his continual shift toward more intentional choices. “To me, it’s a statement on celebrity and wanting to make a name for yourself without any substance under that,” Pitt said. “It’s a beautiful film. It really is.”
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Called “one of 2007’s most infamous box office flops” by Indiewire, the movie received critical acclaim and has found a cult following over the years. Pitt puts the film at the top of her personal list.
“I can turn out the hits over and over and I just—my favorite movie is the worst-performing film of anything I’ve done, The Assassination of Jesse James,” he told GQ in 2017. “If I believe something is worthy, then I know it will be worthy in time to come.”
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