MY 2 YEARS WITH BRAD PITT
Okay, so this sweating kid shows up, late for the interview. I needed a houseboy, Man Friday, secretary, someone to walk the dog and clean the pool–but he says to me, "I'm gonna be a movie star. I just got here from Springfield, Missouri. I need this job." I was from Wisconsin, just up the river, so to speak. He was cute, energetic, and didn't seem flakey. I hired him. His name was Brad Pitt.
He moved in for almost two years, and we had a good friendship. He worked hard, but the job was loose, giving him time to study acting and to audition, so it was a good partnership as well. He loved my dog, Herschel, walked him every night, missed his girl friend back in Missouri (she came to visit, I gave them my house in Palm Springs for the weekend, he cried when she left) (they broke up right after that), hated his complexion, wrote poetry (some I still have) and dreamed of becoming a movie star. I let him do a scene for me one afternoon, in the living room of the house in Los Feliz, and he was really good. I thought, this guy has more talent than I knew. I wanted to help him.
He was having trouble getting work because he needed a Screen Actor's Guild card, and it was frustrating to him. He was tired of dressing up in a chicken suit (a job he'd actually held) and wanted to act to make money (and clean my pool). I was writing ANOTHER WORLD back then, flying to NY a lot, so I told the producers that I had this kid I thought was quite talented and that I wanted to give him a chance. I developed a one-day part for him, a basketball player that a bitter John Hudson meets when he returns to his high school after Viet Nam, a kid full of life that reminds him of himself. Brad was thrilled, we flew him to NY, his first time being treated like a star I guess, and he did a wonderful job. A few days later, I sat down with the producers to discuss giving him a long-tern contract. "He's not appealing," this one idiot woman from P&G said. "No talent," another piped in. The producer said, "Didn't do much for me." So I had to fly home and tell Brad it wouldn't happen, which devastated him. But there was a blessing in it. Had these morons, in their infinite wisdom, not rejected him, he would have been a soap star and nothing more. He got his AFTRA card from being the show, which led to his SAG card, and the rest is history.
He was a good friend, supportive as I was going through some hell with personal relationships, as he was too. I remember the way he leaped into the air when he got the call that he got cast on Dallas and then leaped into my arms and knocked us both over, onto the dog, and we laughed and laughed. The thing is, I believed in him, and kinda feel I discovered him (pat myself on the back). I constantly encouraged him when he felt down, and reminded him that breaking into the business isn't easy. I knew it was going to take more than talent and drive; he'd need a lucky break, a serendipitous moment. He got that playing The Cowboy in Thelma & Louise. He didn't have the body then that he had when I saw him in Thelma & Louise. Boy did I feel amazed and proud when I saw him do that.
Good story: Brad comes up to my bedroom one night and asks if I have a book to read. Duh? The house is filled with books. He wants something "scary." I give him one. Two weeks later, he returns it, saying he didn't care for it much. I remembered the title when, years later, I sat there watching him in the movie version. Yes, Interview With The Vampire.
No, I haven't heard from him in years. He got famous, and famous people have layers of people protecting them, I guess, from old friends. I wrote SNOW ANGEL because of him, and with him in mind. He said he would love to one day play the part of a pyscho like Ted Bundy, a great guy you'd never suspect of having such a dark side (he was always attracted to characters like that, thus Fight Club) and with that in mind, I created Matthew Hinson. Trouble was, by the time it was published, I couldn't even get it to someone to get Brad to read it. He'd become The Movie Star.
I miss him, for he was a terrific friend and almost felt like family (he spent his Thanksgivings with mine, and everyone in my family still tells people how Brad Pitt drove them in from the airport and stuff like that), but life goes on. It's strange to me that in every interview he's given and every silly biography of him that I've seen, he never mentions me or the 2 years he was with me. Some manager gets credit for putting him on ANOTHER WORLD. Odd. If someone knows the reason, let me know. Also curious: in the years he lived with me, he never once let anyone take his picture. All the family gatherings and pool parties and stuff that he was a major part of, he'd run the minute someone pulled out a camera. This from a guy who makes his living in front of cameras. Go figure.
People come into your life for various reasons, and some leave your life the same way. Some friendships last forever, others serve their purpose for only a short time. In the five or so years that I was close to Brad, I think we shared enough to know that it was important at that time, and valuable. I have great memories, I am glad I helped him, and I thank him for all the stuff he did for me.
God love ya, Brad. You did what you set out to do. You have my respect.