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Biography of Brad Pitt

Quick Facts

Brad Pitt
Film Actor
Birth Date 
December 18, 1963
University of Missouri, Kickapoo High School
Place of Birth 
Shawnee, Oklahoma
William Pitt
Brad Pitt
Full Name
William Bradley Pitt
Actor and producer Brad Pitt is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winner known for such films as Legends of the Fall, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Moneyball and 12 Years a Slave.


Actor and producer Brad Pitt was born on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Pitt's first jobs came in television in the late 1980s. Pitt made his big-screen debut in 1989's horror film Cutting Class, but his next few films failed to boost his acting credibility. His role in 1994's Legends of the Fall, however, helped secured his current place as a Hollywood staple. More recent film credits include Fight Club (1999), Babel (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Moneyball (2011) and World War Z (2013). Pitt is also a two-time winner of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title (1995 and 2000). He was nominated for an Academy Award for the fourth time in 2014, winning his first Oscar in the best picture category as a producer for 12 Years a Slave (2013).

Early Life

Actor Brad Pitt was born William Bradley Pitt on December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the eldest of three children in a devoutly Southern Baptist family, and grew up in Springfield, Missouri. His father, Bill Pitt, owned a trucking company, and his mother, Jane Pitt, was a family counselor. Pitt originally aspired to be an advertising art director, studying journalism at the University of Missouri.

However, the young college student had other quiet aspirations, the product of a childhood love of movies, which finally seemed tangible his last semester at university when he realized, "I can leave." On a whim, Pitt dropped out of college, packed up his Datsun, and headed West to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, just two credits shy of a college degree.

Pitt told his parents he intended to enroll in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, but instead spent the next several months driving a limousine—chauffeuring strippers from one bachelor party to the next, delivering refrigerators, and trying to break into the L.A. acting scene. He joined an acting class and, shortly after, accompanied a classmate as her scene partner on an audition with an agent. In a twist of fate, the agent signed Pitt instead of his classmate. After weathering only seven months in Los Angeles, Pitt had secured an agent and regular acting work.

Pretty Boy Roles

Pitt's first jobs came in television, appearing in episodes of Dallas, the daytime soap Another World, the sitcom Growing Pains, and in 1990's short-lived Fox Television series, Glory Days. In 1989, Pitt played Billy Canton, the drug-addicted pimp of a teenage runaway, played by Juliette Lewis, in the NBC made-for-television movie Too Young to Die. Pitt and Lewis (nine years his junior, at age 16) started dating and eventually moved in together.

Pitt made his big screen debut in 1989's horror/slasher film Cutting Class with Donovan Leitch, and played a teen track star in Sandy Tung's Across the Tracks, but it was a well-timed bit part in a controversial Hollywood film that pushed him into the glare of instant stardom. Pitt's performance as a renegade, sugar-tongued hitchhiker who gets picked up by the two title characters in Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise (1991) grabbed universal attention despite only a few minutes worth of screen time. Pitt's combination of charming bad boy charisma and sexual playfulness (particularly in a fiery love scene with Geena Davis) secured him as a genuine sex symbol (and wore out the rewind button on many a VCR).

Pitt's next few films failed to boost his acting credibility and establish him as more than just a pretty face in Hollywood. He appeared in The Favor (1992) with Elizabeth McGovern, Tom CiCillo's directorial debut, Johnny Suede (1992), and the unconvincing, half-animated Cool World (1992).

Serious Roles

However, later that year, the Hollywood sunshine set the golden boy alight once more in Robert Redford's 1992 film based on Norman McLean's autobiography, A River Runs Through It. Pitt played the main character's charismatic gambling, fly-fishing brother (looking remarkably like the young Robert Redford). Redford later admitted that he did not choose Pitt on the strength of his audition, rather, because "[he] had an inner conflict that was very interesting to me." Pitt delivered a sparkling performance, skillfully depicting the character's dangerous footing between overwhelming charm and reckless self-destructiveness.

In 1993, Pitt re-teamed with three-year girlfriend Lewis in Dominic Sela's Kalifornia. Pitt played Early Grayce, a man who goes on a cross-country killing spree with his girlfriend. The film was deemed self-indulgently violent and nihilistic by many reviewers and did not do well in the box office. Pitt and Lewis broke up soon after filming, creating a publicity disaster.

Pitt proceeded to lighten his repertoire with a comedic performance as "Floyd," a burnt-out hippie in Tony Scott's True Romance, but his next major role came in the adaptation of Ann Rice's Interview with the Vampire, alongside Tom Cruise. Rice initially expressed outrage at the casting choices, finding the two boyish, all-American film stars too rough for the subtle, slightly homoerotic overtones of the tale. "It's like casting Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer," she reportedly complained. However, after seeing the final film, Rice retracted her initial statements and filmed a short spot for the video version, endorsing the film. Caryn James of The New York Times reported, "the power of the film depends on Mr. Pitt's rich and deeply affecting performance. Low-key and serene, he makes Louis convincing as a bereaved father, lover, even son."


Pitt's next few efforts secured his place as a Hollywood staple; still, many critics found his roles lacking in dimension. In 1994's Legends of the Fall, an epic family melodrama, Pitt played Tristan, a stereotypical romantic hero with long, golden locks and a penchant for alternately selfish and self-sacrificing gestures. However, Pitt abruptly took a gritty turn as a detective on the trail of a serial killer in David Fincher's disturbing and gory thriller, Seven.

During filming, Pitt met and began dating his then relatively unknown costar, Gwyneth Paltrow. Both claimed it was "love at first sight." The two stayed together for two and a half years and were one of Hollywood's most admired and celebrated couples. Then, in 1997, after a seven-month engagement, the couple split for unknown reasons.

In 1995, Pitt starred as a mental patient in Terry Gilliam's psychological thriller Twelve Monkeys, winning a Golden Globe for best supporting actor for his performance. He followed with another dark thriller, Sleepers (1996), and Alan J. Pakula's Devil's Own with Harrison Ford, before heading to Argentina to film Seven Years in Tibet, an ambitious, $70 million project that met with mixed reviews. Unfortunately, his next film, the three-hour plus Meet Joe Black, co-starring Anthony Hopkins, in which he played a very comely version of death, also inspired little praise.

In 1999, after a brief hiatus from the Hollywood hot list, Pitt re-teamed with Seven director David Fincher to make Fight Club. The apocalyptic film, also starring Edward Norton, presents an unglamorous Pitt in a disturbing role as leader and recruiter of Fight Club, a bloody diversion for young professional males. Next up for Pitt was the British crime-caper Snatch (2001), co-starring Benicio Del Toro and directed by Guy Ritchie. That same year, Pitt starred with Julia Roberts in the romantic comedy The Mexican, teamed with Robert Redford in the thriller Spy Game and joined an A-list ensemble cast, including Roberts, George Clooney and Matt Damon, in Steven Soderbergh's remake of the Rat Pack heist caper Ocean's Eleven. In 2004, Pitt starred as the Greek hero Achilles in the Warner Bros. blockbuster epic Troy.

Blockbuster Hits

In 2005, Pitt starred across from Angelina Jolie in the blockbuster film, Mr. And Mrs. Smith. The action flick, about a married couple who are both secretly working as spies, earned more than $100 million at the box office.

Pitt's next film, the critically acclaimed Babel (2006) earned the actor a Golden Globe nomination. The actor moved on to less serious fare in the reprisal of his role as Rusty Ryan in the Ocean's Eleven sequel, Ocean's Thirteen (2007). In 2008, Pitt teamed up with the Coen brothers to star in the FBI comedic thriller, Burn After Reading. The film earned two Golden Globe nominations and grossed more than $60 million at the box office.

Pitt took on a more whimsical role for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a film based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this David Fincher-directed movie, Pitt plays Benjamin Button who is born as a 70-year-old man and ages in reverse. Pitt received an Oscar nod for the film, which won 3 Academy Awards.

In 2009, Pitt starred in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. In 2011, he starred with Sean Penn in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Two years later, Pitt won acclaim for his performance as Gerry Lane in the zombie-apocalyptic thriller World War Z (2013), directed by Marc Forster. He also received raves for his work on 12 Years a Slave that same year. The film, directed by Steve McQueen, tells the true story of a free African American (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is kipnapped and sold into slavery. Pitt plays an abolitionist from Canada in the film. The cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender and Quvenzhané Wallis.

For his work as a producer on the film, Pitt gained his fourth Academy Award nomination in 2014, this time being nominated in the best picture category. He won the award—marking his first Oscar win—sharing it with McQueen, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas.

Personal Life

A two-time winner of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" title (1995 and 2000), Pitt began dating Jennifer Aniston, star of the TV sitcom Friends, in 1998. Pitt and Aniston married on July 29, 2000, in Malibu, California. The couple announced their separation in January 2005, divorcing in October of that year.

Soon after their separation, Brad Pitt began dating actress Angelina Jolie. In May 2006, the couple had a baby girl, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. They also have three adopted children (Maddox, Pax Thien and Zahara). In July 2008, Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie had twins, a boy, Knox Leon, and a girl, Vivienne Marcheline. The family currently splits their time between Los Angeles and New Orleans. Pitt and Jolie became engaged in 2012 and tied the knot in a private ceremony on August 23, 2014 in France.

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