Last week we found out why Brad Pitt is well established as one the actors of our generation with performances in Interview with the Vampire and Seven. This week the top 5 continues as we find out which other roles Pitt has excelled in.
Kalifornia was made a couple of years after Pitt’s small role in Thelma and Louise and it is evident that he had come far from the sexy hitchhiker that swindled the fateful heroines out of their money. Here on the other hand Pitt stars as Early Grayce, a murderer who ironically tags along for a road trip across America with Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) and his girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes) who are writing a book on American murders and where they took place.
…the most harrowing and convincing…
If anyone thought it was impossible for Pitt to be completely loathsome and unattractive then they should watch this film. With seemingly no morals, his abusive behaviour towards his naïve girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis) and his vulgar and generally inappropriate behavior, are all played very convincingly by Pitt. All the aforementioned traits are red flags for the couple who at first do not realise who they are travelling with, although Carrie finds Early uncomfortable to be around from the beginning. His lack of remorse and understanding of his crimes lead the audience to feel no sympathy for the character and we’re simply waiting to see how he will, if at all, pay for his crimes.
American film critic Roger Ebert described both Pitt and Lewis’s performances as, “…two of the most harrowing and convincing…” he had ever seen. I’d have to agree.
The American Outlaw
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford sees Brad Pitt take on the role of the infamous American outlaw Jesse James, who was a bank and train robber as well as a murderer. Unlike a lot of films that focus heavily on the bad actions of its antagonist, this film shows the relationship between Jesse James and those around him, along with his desire to lead a more ‘normal’ life.
With qualities of an anti-hero the audience are more emotionally invested in the lead character, more than you would assume for someone who has committed the crimes he has. Seen as somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ at the time, Jesse James was admired by some for his ability to avoid the law, with his only downfall eventually coming via the hand of a member of his own gang. Pitt’s stoic and intense performance helps the film become much more than a typical ‘Western’, but the film was surprisingly underrated come award season (it was only nominated for two Academy Awards in the Supporting Actor and Cinematography categories).
…the performance that should have seen Pitt at least get an Academy Award nomination…
It is unfortunate when some films and performances are overlooked and if anything this is the performance that should have seen Pitt at least get an Academy Award nomination for Leading Actor. The film also stars Sam Rockwell, Mary Louise Parker and Casey Affleck who plays the eponymous coward Robert Ford. With great performances they successfully shows that there is truly no honour among thieves.
The Personal Trainer
If there was still any doubt lingering in the minds of naysayers as to whether Brad Pitt was any good or if he was essentially a one or two trick pony, then Burn After Reading surely put that all to rest. The 2009 black comedy by the Coen Brothers has a great ensemble cast including George Clooney, John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton, but Pitt’s role as the ridiculous personal trainer Chad Feldheimer definitely stands out.
Pitt demonstrates a more physical side to comedy than he has previously and is so far from the cool, handsome and well dressed father of six that we see in the tabloids. Chad along with his colleague Linda Litzke (Francis McDormand) get caught up in a blackmail plot which hilariously continues to spiral out of control. Although it may not be considered one of the Coen’s best films, Burn After Reading is worth seeing for Pitt’s wacky performance and of course an always entertaining and morose John Malkovich.
…Brad Pitt will continue to stretch himself as an actor…
With the beautiful and poignant drama The Tree of Life recently released, a post-apocalyptic horror World War Z which is currently filming, and Happy Feet Two on the way, it is evident that Brad Pitt will continue to stretch himself as an actor and take on a variety of roles which are never one in the same.
Images courtesy of Brad Pitt, Kalifornia, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Burn After Reading