In a new interview, Brad Pitt doesn’t specifically address the very public collapse of his marriage to Angelina Jolie, or his nightmarish, ongoing, six-year legal fight over custody of their six children, but the legendary actor reveals to British GQ that the breakup of his family in 2016 prompted him to give up drinking and to eventually give up smoking.
Single again and with his brain and body cleared of substances, Pitt, 58, said he began to face some pretty hard truths about himself. In doing so, he explained he has been able to forge truly deep connections with other people and to find new meaning in his film work and in the way he engages with other kinds of art.
“I always felt very alone in my life, alone growing up as a kid, alone even out here, and it’s really not till recently that I have had a greater embrace of my friends and family,” explained Pitt, who grew up in Missouri and came to Hollywood on a whim at age 22.
Pitt’s interview with GQ writer Ottessa Moshfegh took place in the living room of his Craftsman-style home in the Hollywood hills. The room is tastefully furnished but absent of any family photos, Moshfegh noted.
Pitt said he came to realize that he probably “spent years with a low-grade depression.”
“It’s not until coming to terms with that, trying to embrace all sides of self — the beauty and the ugly — that I’ve been able to catch those moments of joy.”
Pitt explained how emotional turmoil and deep sadness are an inevitable part of personal growth. “I think all our hearts are broken.”
Such comments about broken hearts and feelings of loneliness come two months after it was reported that Pitt fears he will never have much of a relationship with his six children as his custody dispute with Jolie remains unresolved. According to a source quoted by Us Weekly, the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” star is under the impression that Jolie hopes the children “will want nothing to do with” him once they are of age.
Two of Pitt’s children — sons Maddox, 20, and Pax, 18 — already are adults. It’s been widely reported that Pitt and Maddox are estranged. Pitt’s other children with Jolie are daughters Zahara, 17, and Shiloh, 15, and twins, Vivienne and Knox, 13.
Pitt’s custody nightmare is ongoing, but the Oscar winner explained to GQ how he worked to resolve an actual nightmare that he said regularly haunted his dreams for about four or five years. In the nightmare, he was always getting jumped, chased and stabbed.
“It would always be at night, in the dark, and I would be walking down a sidewalk in a park or along a boardwalk and as I’d pass under an Exorcist-like street lamp, someone would jump out of the abyss and stab me in the ribs,” Pitt described in an email to Moshfegh. “Or I’d notice I was being followed and then another flanked me and I realized I was trapped, and they meant me grave harm. Or being chased through a house with a kid I’d help escape but got pinned in on the deck — and stabbed. Always stabbed.”
While Moshfegh said the dream could be interpreted as Pitt’s fears of being stalked by paparazzi, the actor said the dream eventually went away after he began writing about it. “This stopped a year or two ago only when I started going straight back into the dream and asking simply why?”
In this interview and in others since his divorce from Jolie, Pitt credited his ability to become more thoughtful and ruminative to his decision to give up alcohol and go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Jolie’s fight to keep Pitt from having joint custody of their children has been based on her allegations of domestic violence, which was said to be fueled by Pitt’s abuse of alcohol and problems managing his anger.
Pitt told GQ he spent a year and a half going to AA meetings. “I had a really cool men’s group here that was really private and selective, so it was safe,” he said. “Because I’d seen things of other people who had been recorded while they were spilling their guts, and that’s just atrocious to me.”
Pitt was first married to Jennifer Aniston from 2000 to 2005. But the couple divorced soon after Pitt met Jolie on the set of the action thriller, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” in which they played husband-and-wife assassins. Over the next 10 years, the Hollywood super couple raised their children, made movies and became known for their humanitarian work. They finally married in a private ceremony at their jointly owned French chateau in 2014.
It all fell apart two years later. Jolie filed for divorce shortly after a reportedly inebriated Pitt had some kind of confrontation with Maddox aboard a private plane returning from Europe. Following investigations by the FBI and child protective services, Pitt was cleared of any wrongdoing.
It was reported in 2018 and 2019 that the actor was happy to have visits with his children supervised by a court-appointed monitor. Pitt and Jolie supposedly were working toward an “amicable” co-parenting relationship, as she and the children occupied an estate in the Los Feliz neighborhood not far from Pitt’s home.
At some point ,the supposed rapprochement fell apart. Jolie reportedly objected to Pitt having 50/50 custody, and the custody battle reached the higher courts last year, including the California Supreme Court. The rulings didn’t favor Pitt.
The GQ story doesn’t mention whether Pitt spends time with his children, probably because the actor agreed to talk to the magazine on the condition that he not be asked about the legal fight. The interview instead focuses on other ways Pitt passes his time — mostly alone.
According to the story, Pitt learned ceramics during the COVID-19 pandemic, and started to rise early every morning to play his guitar. He also stays busy making movies. He stars in this summer’s action-adventure film, “Bullet Train.” With his Plan B Entertainment Company, Pitt also continues to produce. He’s particularly proud of the film “Women Talking,” about a group of Mennonite women who unite against their rapists, directed by Sarah Polley.
“It’s as profound a film as anything made this decade,” Pitt told GQ.
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