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Brad Pitt on Troy


By Paul Fischer - Posted on 03 May 2004

These days, Brad Pitt finds time to focus on domestic matters, even brush up on his backgammon game.

"I didn't work at all for two years going into this film, so Jen and I got a lot of time together," says Pitt, in a New York City hotel room for a rare press junket.

Having just turned 40, he and wife Jennifer Aniston are also thinking about babies. "Yeah, it's time. It's time... I think I'm finally at a place where I won't mess 'em up too much."

It's a far cry from the world of Troy, in which Pitt stars as the tragic hero Achilles. The Hollywood epic, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, is based on the ancient classical poem The Illiad written by Homer around 800BC.

Strange though it may sound, the actor recalls that in developing the character of the fiery Grecian warrior, he was able to draw parallels with his own life.

"Fortunately, there's so much that can be done on The Iliad, that so many people have written about throughout the ages that I had a great well of information to glean from, so I culled the things that meant the most to me. It really wasn't that difficult, because he was a real isolated character who I guess was in search of self," he says.

"You can make parallels to fame, but it's not nearly to the extent of the Achilles character. But I could certainly draw on that, as well as the choice that he's offered in the beginning while always wrestling with, 'Is this crisis of conscience with the choice that he's made?'"

"There's a real telling line when he says, 'I want what all men want; I just want more.' There's restlessness and isolation in the guy. Whether he's running from death or trying to find himself in a personal glory, he's at a point where he's had that glory and that hasn't done it for him. The Achilles' heel, to me, is representative of his heart. It wasn't until Priam (Peter O' Toole) knocked some sense into him, with words instead of might, that he was then able to ride out the rest of his life with a personal understanding of the greater humanity and his own inner peace of mind."

Pitt didn't warm to the role of the warrior Achilles initially, nor the script. "When I first read the thing it seemed too obvious, in a way, in my addled brain. But then I quickly got into it."

He read the Homer poem in its entirety, too, rather than rely on Cliff Notes. "I actually read the whole thing because I knew this question was coming," he jokes.

"There's a reason why it's still around, as it's one of the great stories... and you've seen how many films and stories are derivative of it."

Asked about his own Achilles' heel, the usually forthcoming actor shies away from a response.

"I'm not going there. It's intimacy for all of us, which is pretty much for nine out of 10 of us around, right?"

Pitt may be 40, but he appears with a buffed up body in various stages of undress.

"It's amazing what an impending midlife crisis will do for you, really. It got me motivated, having turned 40 in December," he quips.

Training for Troy was nonetheless tough.

"It sucked and it was brutal. I started out about six months ahead, going in. It was four meals a day of protein and low-carb, it was quitting smoking, and it was two, three hours in the gym, getting to a point of absolute discomfort. After three months I finally started to enjoy it and on top of that we had sword lessons."

For the record, Pitt's back smoking. "I picked it up again. I've actually picked it up, then quit, and then picked it up again."

All that plus big the 4-0, an epoch in his life about which he says he's unconcerned. "I see it as a real badge of honour and really kind of enjoy it. No more excuses, you know? I can't blame anything on my parents, because I'm responsible for my mistakes and my choices," he concedes.

Pitt didn't splurge on anything for his fortieth, midlife crises notwithstanding. "We were doing the fights on my birthday. I'd always said I was going to get something like a Rolls, then I got too into the energy conservation. No, I just came back and had a nice little quiet dinner with my friends and my wife. We had to do it after the fact, so it was a nice little dinner at home."

No drunken revelry for this good, golden boy. "But there was wine," he hastens to add.

As keen as Pitt is to start a family, he will have to wait until at least Oceans 12 finishes, which he is about to shoot. "It's really well done. Soderbergh is as bright as they come. It starts out where we left off. We're now on the run, Benedict (Andy Garcia) is onto us and we can't work anywhere because we're too hot. So we go to Europe."

Shooting Oceans means misses out on the big Friends finale party. "She is really sad to see it go, in a way and knows it's a big change in her life. It's like when you left college; that era is over. She made some really, really wonderful friends and had some times that meant a lot to her, but it's also the excitement of embarking on the next era."

Having worked together on one of the show's more memorable episodes, would the two work together on-screen again?

"If you look through the history of couples who've worked together, the odds aren't with us, so it'd have to be really hand-picked."

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