Tom Junod’s profile of Brad Pitt will appear in the June/July issue, which is on newsstands at the end of the month.
When I met Brad Pitt the day after Easter, he was so tired that he was perhaps more reflective than usual. He had just finished a week of spring break with his family. He had camped out with them the night before on his property north of Santa Barbara, and he had woken up, he said, too early, as well as too wet. They had slept in tents, four of his six children, along with two of their friends, and then he had gotten all of them in a van and driven them down to LA.
“Angie too?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Angie too.”
I told him that I’d met her a few years before, when I profiled her for Esquire. She was making a movie about the wife of the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, and the thesis of my story was that while 9/11 was supposed to make us all better — a better country and a better people — it only worked for Angelina Jolie. The story has won a kind of immortality as “The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written,” and when I told that to Angelina Jolie’s partner, he at first laughed and said that he hoped Esquire would use that as the title of the profile I was writing about him. Then he got serious. “But you were right,” he said. “You were right, you were right. Angie is….the best person…..”
I remembered meeting Angelina Jolie — how thin she was, how much steak she ate and wine she drank, and above all her utter self-possession. She answered every question I asked, but she was the kind of person who responded without ever simply reacting. Brad Pitt was different. He was, like a lot of men, stuck between family and work, and the day he came back to LA from spring break was the day he began the push to finish his summer zombie movie, World War Z. And so, although he was Brad Pitt, he was also a big guy, dressed in black, stained around the eyes by stress and exhaustion, who spoke leaning forward, bent at the waist, with his hands folded between his legs, and was in the habit of repeating himself between long pauses. “I’m a crap interview,” he’d warned me, but when he began talking about his family, he said twice, “I haven’t known life to be any happier,” and he said it in such a way that I never once thought to doubt him.
This was April 1. I didn’t know then what I know now — that a month earlier, his partner, Angelina Jolie, commenced the series of surgeries that would end, a month later, with her pre-emptive double mastectomy. Over the next few weeks, I talked to several of Pitt’s close friends. They must have known what the couple was enduring, but of course they never told me. One of them, however, called me back after our first interview. His name was Frank Pollaro, and he’d spoken about the furniture business he’d started with Brad Pitt, and about Pitt’s excellent eye. But he wanted to say something else, so he called Brad, and asked if he was at liberty to speak about Brad’s relationship with Angelina. He was, and so when he called back, he told me what he’d seen at Brad’s house — “once I walked in and Angie was standing there and Zahara walked up and said, ‘Daddy, you’re not going to start making out with Mommy again, are you?’ And it’s like that. This is a guy who has tried not to do any sexy scenes with other women since he’s met Angelinia. He’s crazy about her, and she’s the same way about him. No matter how hard he’s working, if one of those kids runs by the window he’ll get out of his chair and give them a kiss. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen Angie without one of those children in her arms.”
It’s the nature of marriage — or, in the case Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, a committed relationship — to both invite and repel scrutiny. We have no idea how any two people make a life together, much less two people as professionally exhibitionistic and privately enigmatic as the two combined in the public mind as “Brangelina.” But I will say this: a long time ago, Brad Pitt left college in Missouri to come to LA and act in movies. He insists that he wasn’t looking for stardom, only a sense of life and possibility larger than what he left behind. He insists that he was searching the chimera of Hollywood for something real. This morning, the mother of his children revealed in the New York Times that he was “at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.”
You do not have to be a celebrity, only a father and a man in love with a woman, to know that life doesn’t get any more real than that.
Does Junod sound like a fan-boy? Sure. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this piece immensely. Junod infamously profiled Angelina several years ago – he references that in this piece, and you can read the old story here. It’s not a particularly revealing interview for Angelina, but again, it sounds like it was written by a fan-boy. And why not? Why can’t a celebrity journalist admit that he or she believes that Brad and Angelina are in love and in it for the long haul? That despite all of the glitz and bulls—t that comes with their jobs, they actually managed to make something real and lasting together? *adjusts Brangeloonie tin foil hat*