Heartthrob with heart
Brad Pitt has to save his screen family from flesh-eating zombies in his latest film, World War Z. Shereen Low finds out why, in real life, the actor would risk everything for his nearest and dearest.
Family means everything to Brad Pitt. Once famed for being the most attractive man on the planet, these days he’s the A-list poster boy for family values, and the devoted dad-of-six is happy to admit that he’s prioritising his beloved brood ahead of everything else. In fact, it was his fiancee, Angelina Jolie, who stole the limelight at the UK premiere for Pitt’s latest film World War Z. The event was 38-year-old Jolie’s first red carpet appearance since revealing last month she’d undergone a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she carried the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which sharply increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Her decision to “go public” led to a huge outpouring of respect and admiration for the actress - with Pitt leading the praise. “She’s doing great,” the actor and producer says today. “It’s business as usual and on to the next stage for us.” Jolie, whose own mother was 56 when she died of ovarian cancer, underwent weeks of hospital appointments, invasive surgery and recovery during the early months of 2013, but the couple are feeling positive. “It doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be empowering,” says Pitt of his fiancee’s surgery. “It’s been an emotional and beautifully inspiring few months. It’s such a wonderful relief to come
through this.” Pitt’s transformation from ladies’ man to family man is well and truly complete. Once engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow, he married former Friends actress Jennifer Aniston in 2000, before they split in 2005. It was rumoured that his relationship with Jolie, whom he met on the set of Mr And Mrs Smith, caused the break-up, and while allegations of adultery were denied from both camps, Pitt and Jolie later admitted they “fell in love” while working on the film. The couple are parents to three biological children - Shiloh, seven, and four-yearold twins Knox and Vivienne - and three adopted kids: Maddox, 11; Pax, nine and eight-year-old Zahara. Pitt had his kids in mind when he signed up for zombie thriller World War Z, he says, particularly the two older boys. As well as starring in it, he produced it through his production company, Plan B Entertainment. “These zombies are scary as hell,” he says. “And the movie, I believe, works on numerous levels. But primarily, it’s complete summer fun and something I wanted to do for my sons to enjoy.” In World War Z, directed by Marc Forster (Quantum Of Solace) and based on Max Brooks’s post-apocalyptic horror novel, Pitt plays former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane, tasked with having to save his family while trying to stop, the source of the epidemic that’s turning people into zombies. The actor says playing someone normal, not a superhero, appealed. “Gerry can’t fly, he can’t beat up bad guys. He has no super powers. He’s a dad, with a burning need to keep his family safe. To do that, he can only rely on his intellect, his instincts and his experience,” Pitt explains. He has kind words for his on-screen wife Karen, played by Mireille Enos, who’s starred in the US version of The Killing. “Mireille is a brilliant partner on set,” he says. “She can embody the lovingness of the mother and flip to the ferociousness of the lioness protecting her young in an instant.” Pitt, who became a Hollywood heartthrob after appearing in Thelma And Louise in 1991, and later in films like Meet Joe Black and Fight Club, has received four Oscar nominations in his time, including two for 2011 drama Moneyball. His upcoming roles in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, are sure to bring him further acclaim.
Mireille Enos as Karin and Brad Pitt as Gerald Lane in World War Z
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the world premiere of World War Z in London