As a public figure, Pitt has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry. For a number of years, he was cited as the world's most attractive man by various media outlets, and his personal life is the subject of wide publicity. From 2000 to 2005, he was married to the actress Jennifer Aniston, and from 2014 to 2019, he was married to the actress Angelina Jolie. Pitt and Jolie have six children together, three of whom were adopted internationally.
Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to William Alvin Pitt, the proprietor of a trucking company, and Jane Etta (née Hillhouse), a school counselor. The family soon moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he lived together with his younger siblings, Douglas Mitchell (born 1966) and Julie Neal (born 1969). Born into a conservative Christian household, he was raised as Southern Baptist and later "oscillate[d] between agnosticism and atheism." He later came back around to just belief in that "we're all connected". Pitt has described Springfield as "Mark Twain country, Jesse James country," having grown up with "a lot of hills, a lot of lakes."
Pitt attended Kickapoo High School, where he was a member of the golf, swimming and tennis teams. He participated in the school's Key and Forensics clubs, in school debates, and in musicals. Following his graduation from high school, Pitt enrolled in the University of Missouri in 1982, majoring in journalism with a focus on advertising. As graduation approached, Pitt did not feel ready to settle down. He loved films—"a portal into different worlds for me"—and, since films were not made in Missouri, he decided to go to where they were made. Two weeks short of completing the coursework for a degree, Pitt left the university and moved to Los Angeles, where he took acting lessons and worked odd jobs. He has named his early acting heroes as Gary Oldman, Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke.
Pitt was cast as Billy Canton, a drug addict who takes advantage of a young runaway (played by Juliette Lewis) in the 1990 NBC television movie Too Young to Die?, the story of an abused teenager sentenced to death for a murder. Ken Tucker, television reviewer for Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Pitt is a magnificent slimeball as her hoody boyfriend; looking and sounding like a malevolent John Cougar Mellencamp, he's really scary." The same year, Pitt co-starred in six episodes of the short-lived Fox drama Glory Days and took a supporting role in the HBO television film The Image. His next appearance came in the 1991 film Across the Tracks; Pitt portrayed Joe Maloney, a high school runner with a criminal brother, played by Rick Schroder. After years of supporting roles in film and frequent television guest appearances, Pitt attracted wider recognition in his supporting role in Ridley Scott's 1991 road film Thelma & Louise. He played J.D., a small-time criminal who befriends Thelma (Geena Davis). His love scene with Davis has been cited as the event that defined Pitt as a sex symbol. After Thelma & Louise, Pitt starred in the 1991 film Johnny Suede, a low-budget picture about an aspiring rock star, and the 1992 live-action/animated fantasy film Cool World, although neither furthered his career, having poor reviews and box office performance.
Pitt took the role of Paul Maclean in the 1992 biographical film A River Runs Through It, directed by Robert Redford. His portrayal of the character was described by People's Janet Mock as a career-making performance, proving that Pitt could be more than a "cowboy-hatted hunk." He has admitted to feeling under pressure when making the film and thought it was one of his "weakest performances ... It's so weird that it ended up being the one that I got the most attention for." Pitt believed that he benefited from working with such a talented cast and crew. He compared working with Redford to playing tennis with a superior player, saying "when you play with somebody better than you, your game gets better." In 1993, Pitt reunited with Juliette Lewis for the road film Kalifornia. He played Early Grayce, a serial killer and the boyfriend of Lewis's character in a performance described by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone as "outstanding, all boyish charm and then a snort that exudes pure menace." Pitt also garnered attention for a brief appearance in the cult hit True Romance as a stoner named Floyd, providing much needed comic relief to the action film. He capped the year by winning a ShoWest Award for Male Star of Tomorrow.
In 1995, Pitt starred alongside Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow in the crime thriller Seven, playing a detective on the trail of a serial killer. Pitt called it a great movie and declared the part would expand his acting horizons. He expressed his intent to move on from "this 'pretty boy' thing [...] and play someone with flaws." His performance was critically well received, with Variety saying that it was screen acting at its best, further remarking on Pitt's ability to turn in a "determined, energetic, creditable job" as the detective.Seven earned $327 million at the international box office. Following the success of Seven, Pitt took a supporting role as Jeffrey Goines in Terry Gilliam's 1995 science-fiction film 12 Monkeys. The movie received predominantly positive reviews, with Pitt praised in particular. Janet Maslin of the New York Times called Twelve Monkeys "fierce and disturbing" and remarked on Pitt's "startlingly frenzied performance", concluding that he "electrifies Jeffrey with a weird magnetism that becomes important later in the film." He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film and received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The following year, he had a role in the legal drama Sleepers (1996), based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's novel of the same name. The film received mixed reviews. In the 1997 film The Devil's Own Pitt starred, opposite Harrison Ford, as the Irish Republican Army terrorist Rory Devany, a role for which he was required to learn an Irish accent. Critical opinion was divided on his accent; "Pitt finds the right tone of moral ambiguity, but at times his Irish brogue is too convincing – it's hard to understand what he's saying", wrote the San Francisco Chronicle.The Charleston Gazette opined that it had favored Pitt's accent over the movie.The Devil's Own grossed $140 million worldwide, but was a critical failure. Later that year, he led as Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer in the Jean-Jacques Annaud film Seven Years in Tibet. Pitt trained for months for the role, which demanded significant mountain climbing and trekking practice, including rock climbing in California and the European Alps with his co-star David Thewlis. The film received mostly negative reviews, and was generally considered a disappointment. Pitt had the lead role in 1998's fantasy romance film Meet Joe Black. He portrayed a personification of death inhabiting the body of a young man to learn what it is like to be human. The film received mixed reviews, and many were critical of Pitt's performance. According to Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle, Pitt was unable to "make an audience believe that he knows all the mysteries of death and eternity."Roger Ebert stated "Pitt is a fine actor, but this performance is a miscalculation."
In 1999, Pitt portrayed Tyler Durden in Fight Club, a film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name, directed by David Fincher. Pitt prepared for the part with lessons in boxing, taekwondo, and grappling. To look the part, Pitt consented to the removal of pieces of his front teeth which were restored when filming ended. While promoting Fight Club, Pitt said that the film explored not taking one's aggressions out on someone else but to "have an experience, take a punch more and see how you come out on the other end."Fight Club premiered at the 1999 Venice International Film Festival. Despite divided critical opinion on the film as a whole, Pitt's performance was widely praised. Paul Clinton of CNN noted the risky yet successful nature of the film, while Variety remarked upon Pitt's ability to be "cool, charismatic and more dynamically physical, perhaps than [...] his breakthrough role in Thelma and Louise". In spite of a worse-than-expected box office performance, Fight Club became a cult classic after its DVD release in 2000.
Pitt in December 2001
Pitt was cast as an Irish Gypsy boxer with a barely intelligible accent in Guy Ritchie's 2000 gangster film Snatch. Several reviewers were critical of Snatch; however, most praised Pitt. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said Pitt was "ideally cast as an Irishman whose accent is so thick even Brits can't understand him", going on to say that, before Snatch, Pitt had been "shackled by roles that called for brooding introspection, but recently he has found his calling in black comic outrageousness and flashy extroversion;" while Amy Taubin of The Village Voice claimed that "Pitt gets maximum comic mileage out of a one-joke role". The following year Pitt starred opposite Julia Roberts in the romantic comedyThe Mexican, a film that garnered a range of reviews but enjoyed box office success. Pitt's next role, in 2001's $143 million-grossing Cold War thriller Spy Game, was as Tom Bishop, an operative of the CIA's Special Activities Division, mentored by Robert Redford's character. Mark Holcomb of Salon.com enjoyed the film, although he noted that neither Pitt nor Redford provided "much of an emotional connection for the audience".
Pitt had two major film roles in 2004, starring as Achilles in Troy, and reprising his role, Rusty Ryan, in the sequel Ocean's Twelve. He spent six months sword training before the filming of Troy, based on the Iliad. An on-set injury to his Achilles tendon delayed production on the picture for several weeks.Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post stated that Pitt excelled at such a demanding role.Troy was the first film produced by Plan B Entertainment, a film production company he had founded two years earlier with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Grey, CEO of Paramount Pictures.Ocean's Twelve earned $362 million worldwide, and Pitt and Clooney's dynamic was described by CNN's Paul Clinton as "the best male chemistry since Paul Newman and Robert Redford." In 2005, Pitt starred as John Smith in the Doug Liman-directed action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith, in which a bored married couple discover that each is an assassin sent to kill the other. The feature received reasonable reviews but was generally lauded for the chemistry between Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who played his character's wife Jane Smith. The Star Tribune noted that "while the story feels haphazard, the movie gets by on gregarious charm, galloping energy and the stars' thermonuclear screen chemistry".Mr. & Mrs. Smith earned $478 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits of 2005.
Pitt at the premiere of War Machine in Japan in May 2017
Pitt starred in Fury, a World War II film directed and written by David Ayer, and co-starring Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal and Michael Peña. The film was released on October 17, 2014. By the end of its run, Fury proved to be a commercial and critical success; it grossed more than $211 million worldwide and received highly positive reviews from critics. In 2015, Pitt starred opposite his wife, Jolie, in her third directorial effort, By the Sea, a romantic drama about a marriage in crisis, based on her screenplay. The film was their first collaboration since 2005's Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Pitt's next role came with the biographical comedy-drama The Big Short, which he also produced. The film was a commercial and critical success. It went on to gross over $102 million worldwide and received positive reviews from critics. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, earning Pitt his third Academy Award nomination as producer. In 2016, Pitt starred in Robert Zemeckis's romantic thriller Allied, in which he plays a spy assassin who falls in love with a French spy (played by Marion Cotillard) during a mission to kill a German official in World War II. In 2017, he starred in the Netflix satirical war comedy War Machine, which he also produced. Pitt played a recurring role as a weatherman on the late-night talk show The Jim Jefferies Show throughout 2017.
Pitt at the "Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict", June 2014
Pitt supports the ONE Campaign, an organization aimed at combating AIDS and poverty in the developing world. He narrated the 2005 PBS public television series Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge, which discusses current global health issues. The following year Pitt and Jolie flew to Haiti, where they visited a school supported by Yéle Haïti, a charity founded by Haitian-born hip hop musician Wyclef Jean. In May 2007, Pitt and Jolie donated $1 million to three organizations in Chad and Sudan dedicated to those affected by the crisis in the Darfur region. Along with Clooney, Damon, Don Cheadle, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub, Pitt is one of the founders of Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention on stopping "mass atrocities".
Pitt has a sustained interest in architecture, even taking time away from film to study computer-aided design at the Los Angeles offices of renowned architect Frank Gehry. He narrated e2 design, a PBS television series focused on worldwide efforts to build environmentally friendly structures through sustainable architecture and design. In 2000, he co-authored an architectural book on the Blacker House with the architects Thomas A. Heinz and Randell Makinson. In 2006, he founded the Make It Right Foundation, organizing housing professionals in New Orleans to finance and construct 150 sustainable, affordable new houses in New Orleans's Ninth Ward following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The project involves 13 architectural firms and the environmental organization Global Green USA, with several of the firms donating their services. Pitt and philanthropist Steve Bing have each committed $5 million in donations. The first six homes were completed in October 2008, and in September 2009 Pitt received an award in recognition of the project from the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. Pitt met with U.S. President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in March 2009 to promote his concept of green housing as a national model and to discuss federal funding possibilities.
In September 2006, Pitt and Jolie established a charitable organization, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, to aid humanitarian causes around the world. The foundation made initial donations of $1 million each to Global Action for Children and Doctors Without Borders, followed by an October 2006 donation of $100,000 to the Daniel Pearl Foundation, an organization created in memory of the late American journalist Daniel Pearl. According to federal filings, Pitt and Jolie invested $8.5 million into the foundation in 2006; it gave away $2.4 million in 2006 and $3.4 million in 2007. In June 2009, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation donated $1 million to a U.N. refugee agency to help Pakistanis displaced by fighting between troops and Taliban militants. In January 2010, the foundation donated $1 million to Doctors Without Borders for emergency medical assistance to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pitt was involved in successive relationships with several of his co-stars, including Robin Givens (Head of the Class),Jill Schoelen (Cutting Class), and Juliette Lewis (Too Young to Die? and Kalifornia). In addition, Pitt had a much-publicized romance and engagement to his Seven co-star, Gwyneth Paltrow, whom he dated from 1994 to 1997.
Pitt met Friends actress Jennifer Aniston in 1998 and married her in a private wedding ceremony in Malibu on July 29, 2000. In January 2005, Pitt and Aniston announced they had decided to separate. Two months later, Aniston filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Pitt and Aniston's divorce was finalized by the Los Angeles Superior Court on October 2, 2005. Despite media reports that Pitt and Aniston had an acrimonious relationship, Pitt said in a February 2009 interview that he and Aniston "check in with each other", adding that they were both big parts of each other's lives.
During Pitt's divorce proceedings, his involvement with his Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie attracted media attention. Jolie and Pitt stated that they fell in love on the set and that there was no infidelity. In April 2005, one month after Aniston filed for divorce, a set of paparazzi photographs emerged showing Pitt, Jolie, and her son Maddox at a beach in Kenya; the press interpreted the pictures as evidence of a relationship between Pitt and Jolie. During 2005, the two were seen together with increasing frequency, and the entertainment media dubbed the couple "Brangelina". On January 11, 2006, Jolie confirmed to People that she was pregnant with Pitt's child, thereby publicly acknowledging their relationship for the first time. Pitt and Jolie announced their engagement in April 2012 after seven years together. They were married on August 23, 2014, in a private ceremony in Château Miraval, France. On September 19, 2016, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt, citing irreconcilable differences. On April 12, 2019, the court restored Jolie and Pitt to single status.
Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt
born (2001-08-05) August 5, 2001 (age 18) in Cambodia; adopted March 10, 2002 by Jolie; adopted early 2006 by Pitt
Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt
born (2003-11-29) November 29, 2003 (age 16) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; adopted March 15, 2007 by Jolie; adopted February 21, 2008 by Pitt
Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt
born (2005-01-08) January 8, 2005 (age 15) in Awassa, Ethiopia; adopted July 6, 2005 by Jolie; adopted early 2006 by Pitt
Knox Léon Jolie-Pitt and Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt (twins)
born (2008-07-12) July 12, 2008 (age 11) in Nice, France
In July 2005, Pitt accompanied Jolie to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she adopted her second child, Zahara Marley. On December 3, 2005, Pitt was in the process of becoming the adoptive father of Zahara, and Jolie's first adopted child, Maddox Chivan. On January 19, 2006, a California judge granted Jolie's request to change the children's surnames from "Jolie" to "Jolie-Pitt". The adoptions were finalized soon after.
Jolie gave birth to daughter Shiloh Nouvel in Swakopmund, Namibia, on May 27, 2006. Pitt confirmed that their newborn daughter would qualify for a Namibian passport. The couple sold the first pictures of Shiloh through the distributor Getty Images; the North American rights were purchased by People for over $4.1 million, while Hello! obtained the British rights for approximately $3.5 million. The proceeds from the sale were donated to charities serving African children.Madame Tussauds in New York unveiled a wax figure of two-month-old Shiloh; it marked the first time an infant was recreated in wax by Madame Tussauds.
On March 15, 2007, Jolie adopted three-year-old Pax Thien from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Pitt adopted Pax in the United States on February 21, 2008.
Pitt interviewed by the news media at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 2007
Pitt has been cited as physically attractive by many sources, including Empire, who named him one of the 25 sexiest stars in film history in 1995. The same year, Pitt was chosen as People's Sexiest Man Alive, an accolade he received again in 2000. Pitt appeared on Forbes's annual Celebrity 100 list of the 100 most powerful celebrities from 2006 to 2008 placing at numbers 20, 5 and 10, respectively. In 2007, he was listed among the Time 100, a compilation of the 100 most influential people in the world, as selected annually by Time. The magazine credited Pitt with using "his star power to get people to look [to where] cameras don't usually catch". He was again included in the Time 100 in 2009, this time in the "Builders and Titans" list.
Starting in 2005, Pitt's relationship with Angelina Jolie became one of the most reported celebrity stories worldwide. After confirming that Jolie was pregnant in early 2006, the significant media hype surrounding the couple reached what Reuters, in a story titled "The Brangelina fever," called "the point of insanity". To avoid media attention, the couple flew to Namibia for the birth of their daughter Shiloh, which was described by a paparazzi blog as "the most anticipated baby since Jesus Christ." Similarly, intense media interest greeted the announcement of Jolie's second pregnancy two years later; for the two weeks Jolie spent in a seaside hospital in Nice, reporters and photographers camped outside on the promenade to report on the birth.
In a 2006 global industry survey by ACNielsen in 42 international markets, Pitt, together with Jolie, were found to be the favorite celebrity endorsers for brands and products worldwide. Pitt has appeared in several television commercials. For the U.S. market, he starred in a Heineken commercial aired during the 2005 Super Bowl; it was directed by David Fincher, who had directed Pitt in Seven, Fight Club, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Other commercial appearances came in television spots including Acura Integra, in which he was featured opposite Russian model Tatiana Sorokko, as well as SoftBank, and Edwin Jeans. On June 2, 2015, the minor planet 29132 Bradpitt was named in his honor.
^Larry Ratliff (March 28, 1997). "Sexy integrity – Brad Pitt worked hard to match co-star Ford's 'every day look'". San Antonio Express-News: 10H. [Brad] Pitt had to master an Irish accent [in The Devil's Own] to play the bitter freedom fighter who befriends the New York cop portrayed by [Harrison] Ford.
^Claudia Eller (January 24, 2007). "Academy to ponder credit for 'Departed'". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2008. Along with [Graham] King, [Brad] Grey and his former producing partner, actor Brad Pitt, were given screen credit on the movie by Warner.
^"Big Lenders". RedEye (Chicago Tribune). May 11, 2007. p. 72. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2017. Refugee camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad are receiving a big dose of help from Bradgelina. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are donating $1 million to humanitarian efforts there through their Jolie-Pitt Foundation ... The money ... will go to three organizations that help millions of displaced refugees in and around Darfur.
^"Does Jolie lead Hollywood by example?". Access Hollywood. MSNBC. July 17, 2006. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2008. Brad Pitt—whose most recent cause has been close to home and heart—working with Global Green USA ... on a competition to choose ecologically sound designs for rebuilding neighborhoods in post-Katrina New Orleans.
^Robin Pogrebin (December 3, 2007). "Brad Pitt Commissions Designs for New Orleans". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 9, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. Mr. Pitt pledged to match $5 million in contributions to the project, as did Steve Bing, the philanthropist.
^Tauber, Michelle; Wulff, Jennifer (July 18, 2005). "Angelina Adopts a Girl: And Baby Makes Three". People. 64 (3). Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 8, 2015. As of July 6, the actress and United Nations activist was expected to have officially signed papers and obtained a passport stamp for a relatively newborn Ethiopian girl...