Brad Pitt has a lot on his mind.
In the most surprisingly candid interview since his headline-grabbing split from Angelina Jolie last year, the actor told GQ Style how he’d confronted years of heavy drinking, readjusted his priorities and, like any man who’s recently experienced a significant life change, thrown himself head-first into sculpting. Seriously, Brad Pitt is spending more time with clay than people these days. He’s also embracing therapy (“I love it. I love it.”) and no longer thinks of himself as an actor, at least not in the way he once did.
The out-of-nowhere announcement that Jolie had filed for divorce in September of 2016 spread like wildfire on social media and rocketed to the top of the celebrity news agenda. Five days earlier, an alleged altercation between Pitt and one of his six children on a plane was deemed serious enough to trigger a child abuse investigation (he was later cleared of all allegations). Suddenly Hollywood’s most high-profile couple were locked in a bitter custody battle, and everyone knew about it.
A few things really stand out from the comprehensive profile. Pitt has naturally done a lot of soul-searching in the last eight months or so. When everything falls apart so dramatically, you have to find a way of mending it. While unsurprisingly not going into any detail about the current state of his relationship with his estranged wife, he comes across as quietly reflective, admirably honest and committed to being the best father he can. He’s a big Frank Ocean fan (obviously) and starts every day by making a fire (“it makes me feel life”). He refutes any suggestions of a midlife crisis.
Notably, since the split the Fight Club star has adopted a teetotal lifestyle. “I can't remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn't boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something,” he told GQ Style’s Michael Paterniti. “I'm really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know – things I wasn't dealing with. I was boozing too much. It's just become a problem. And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that's part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.”
And how does he fill the gap? “Cranberry juice and fizzy water. I've got the cleanest urinary tract in all of L.A., I guarantee you!”
They also discussed the aforementioned sculpting, which Pitt discovered when he suddenly found his days had become increasingly ‘solemn’ without the racket of a large family. He spends a lot of time in a friend’s studio. “I'm making everything,” he said. “I'm working with clay, plaster, rebar, wood. Just trying to learn the materials. You know, I surprise myself. But it's a very, very lonely occupation. There's a lot of manual labor, which is good for me right now. A lot of lugging clay around, chopping and moving and cleaning up after yourself. But I surprise myself.”
Paterniti asked if he felt compelled to be more politically active. “I can help in other ways. I can help by getting movies out with certain messages. I've got to be moved by something – I can't fake it.”
He said that the movie business occupies so little of his focus nowadays. Rather, it’s fatherhood that is always at the forefront of his mind. “I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality – the father is all-powerful, super strong – instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it's hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven't been great at it.”
That really is scratching the surface, though. Make the full interview your lunchtime reading.