I’m no star-struck admirer of the entertainment industry. In my eyes, there’s a lot of sizzle and not enough steak. The trend of “being famous for being famous” contributes heavily to my thick skepticism.
In my mind, Brad Pitt is an exception.
That may seem odd and my opinion may be a bit polarizing. Pitt is, after all, one of the most famous entertainment icons alive. But there’s more to his story than the Hollywood hype may lead you to believe.
If there is one facet of Brad Pitt that could be considered somewhat obscure, it may be — oddly enough — his acting career. For much of his two decades in the spotlight, … Mr. Pitt has been a star first and an actor second.
That quote comes from a recently published New York Times interview with Pitt. Titled Don’t Forget: He Acts Too, the exposé illustrates the truly wondrous backstory of Pitt’s acting career. More importantly for our purposes as creative professionals, it reveals his very un-Hollywood approach to creating art.
The central contradiction can be summed up thus: Mr. Pitt is a superstar who also happens to be something of a wild card. He has steered clear of action franchises and romantic comedies, the typical cornerstones of a major 21st-century screen career. … And while acting, for stars of a certain magnitude, is often a matter of aura, of simply being themselves, Mr. Pitt has shown a sly understanding of the uses of charisma…
‘I think it’s fair to say that mostly [Pitt has] excelled at character work,’ Bennett Miller, the director of “Moneyball,” said by telephone recently. ‘He’s capable of the wildest shifts.’
Ultimately, and most importantly…
Mr. Pitt said he tries to keep a tunnel vision on the work. ‘I want to make things, and I want them to say something,’ he said. ‘I don’t think beyond that.’
I love that; it’s simple, direct and purposeful. Avoid the noise. Escape the hype. Just make things, and make sure they say something.
I respect actors tremendously. The good ones. The ones that are capable of circumventing your skepticism with skill and unexpectedly planting a flag in your heart. Pitt is a master at that, and as a creative pro I aspire to take the same approach to my craft.
Reaction(s) to the New York Times article or my opinion of it? Agree? Disagree? Please let loose in the comments!
Image credit: Geraldo