AVERTISSEMENT: Puisque la personne à qui s’adresse cette lettre est anglophone, la lettre est écrite en anglais.
Dear Mr Pitt,
I am writing to say that I am sorry for underestimating your acting abilities.
When I first heard about you, you were what we would call a “spring chicken”. You were the Hot Guy from “Thelma and Louise”, who was moving on to other Hot Guy roles in “Cool World” and more serious-yet-blockbuster fare like “A River Runs Through It” and “Interview with the Vampire”. This was the early to mid-90s and many girlfriends around me had a crush on you, when I couldn’t care less. “Oh,” I told myself. “Not another Hot Stud who can’t act! Like Hollywood needs more of those!” I myself was more into Robert Downey Jr at the time, an actor who, despite his troubled life, proved his acting chops in serious fare like “Chaplin” and “Less Than Zero” and comedic films like “Chances Are” and “Soapdish”. But I digress…
I’ll acknowledge that compared to another Hot Stud whom I didn’t really like (Tom Cruise), you weren’t scared of taking risks and diversifying the types of roles you played. “Kalifornia”, “True Romance” and “Se7en” were all great and risky films, and I admire that you did them. However, I had a hard time believing you in any of them. I would look into your eyes and all I would see is Brad Pitt, not the characters that you were playing. I felt that either you always had the same tone of voice, the same posture, the same emotions and thus was just “playing Brad Pitt”; or you were way too over the top that you weren’t credible. Your star persona took over your performances. So I put you on my “Actors I Don’t Like List” and that was the end of it.
Sorry, I take that back! It wasn’t the end of it! I did have hope in you when you would play a quirky character. I’ll be honest, I didn’t see “Twelve Monkeys” but you seemed quite good in that, heck you got your first Academy Award nomination for it! But I did love you in “Burn After Reading”: quirky, silly, and perfectly dumb, you stole away your scenes from Frances McDormand and other veterans. I was happily surprised. I also enjoyed you in “Fight Club”: cocky and tough, you were again going agaisnt the movie star grain and gained yourself a cult classic to your resume. And as Lt. Aldo Raine in “Inglourious Basterds”, you held your own against Christoph Waltz, which was a difficult feat. In all those roles, you showed that you had good comedic timing and were a great character actor, but what I loved the most is that you didn’t take yourself seriously, which was refreshing compared to other movie stars of your A list level.
However, these were supporting character roles (yes, the “Basterds” role was supporting, even though the poster and trailer made the audience think otherwise), whenever I would see you in a leading “straight man” role, I still had a hard time believing you. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was one of these roles. As much as I wanted to believe you, whenever I would look in your eyes, despite the heavy makeup and CGI, all I saw was Brad Pitt! I felt that you lacked confidence as a leading man, as if you could only be great when you hid behind a flamboyant character like the ones listed above. Playing the straight guy seemed to hit too close to home, and thus you couldn’t do it…
But something happened in 2011, you got better! SO MUCH BETTER! In “Moneyball”, you played the lead real-life character of Billy Beane, manager of baseball’s Oakland A’s. You played Beane which such painful sincerity that I ached and rooted for you, but I mostly forgot who the actor playing the part was and only saw Billy Beane. The chemistry you had with Jonah Hill’s character strengthened your performance and made you all the more believable as Beane.
And then I saw “The Tree of Life”, which was aesthetically beautiful and impressive, but what I retained most about the film, was the character you played. Your portrayal of the frustrated 50s husband and father was so raw and restrained, it put so many other actors to shame. Plus you weren’t hiding behind any costume or quirky one liners, your performance was natural. I looked into your eyes, and all I saw was the character of Mr. O’Brien, and not Brad Pitt. To me, that was your best film role to date and I really wish you had been nominated for it. But the nomination for “Moneyball” is a nice consolation.
So once again, I wish to apologise for underestimating you Mr Pitt. I hope that, despite some bashing in this letter, you will accept my apology. I have happily removed you from my “Actors I Don’t Like List” and look forward to your many future projects… and to your eventual Oscar win! It might not be in the cards this year, but you seem to be well on your way to winning an Oscar down the road. And I will be happily clapping in front of the TV when that happens because you are an actor I now like 🙂
Watts at the Movies 🙂