Brad Pitt and the Beauty Trap

Male stars face a double standard, too, and ever since he bared his chest in “Thelma & Louise,” his work has been undervalued. But look closer and he explores masculinity in complex ways.

Comments: 153

  1. I think Pitt is a very good actor, and has improved with each movie. I thought he was great in "Once upon a time...", but my favorite of all Pitt's movies is "Burn After Reading". He plays his hapless character so well and makes me laugh every time! He's drop-dead gorgeous, AND very talented. What a winning combination!

  2. I never thought of Brad Pitt as good looking. He's average. I know guys who are not actors who are awesome looking. I cannot think of any actor, past or present, who are as good looking as these men I've met.

  3. @Art in Athens GA Boy are you wrong. Some beautiful men become less when they open their mouths’. No so with Brad Pitt. He just is - so so beautiful handsome lovely just amazing too look at.

  4. @LCF I was not impressed by him in "Thelma and Louise." He looked like a little boy and still does now that he is older. Sorry, you haven't met awesome looking intelligent guys in real life.

  5. Brad Pitt has always been easy on the eyes, but of late, he seems to have settled with ease into his late 50s. He's more relaxed, less twitchy than in his youth and going with the flow. He seems confident, happy and enjoying life. He is beyond cool. I love his smooth demeanor, unpretentious Midwest ways and work. I also respect him as a man -- since he stood up to Weinstein back in the day.

  6. I couldn’t quite seem to articulate how I’ve felt about Brad Pitt, but you certainly have done so. Thank you. This is spot on.

  7. Divided nation maybe but not when it comes to our love of film. Reading these comments you see we can disagree but we all know what we are talking about and what we think quality looks like. Nice to remember we have this national shared interest in something our country has excelled at producing.

  8. Love me some Brad, but I draw the line at the critic's argument for the philogyny of his roles. He is currently nominated for an Oscar in a "Once Upon...", which includes an extended sequence of a woman being torched alive by his character after her head is bashed in. The primary blame for this homage to such X-rated grindhouse as "The Gore-Gore Girls" (1972) belongs to director Quentin Tarantino, who thereby ruins his own masterpiece. That said, Brad took the part, didn't he?

  9. @ptownfreddy You should probably watch a film before you get sanctimonious...(or maybe you just can't tell the difference between Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio (whose character "torched" the would-be mass-murderer you refer to).

  10. Pitt deserves recognition for his acting chops - just as soon as Cruise gets his.

  11. @John I agree! Cruise has ten times the range of Pitt. Cruise joins the Kirk Douglas, Burr Lancaster Club of physical actors with chops. Neither of them would have goofed around as Achilles.

  12. Describing Legends of the Fall as a "risible dud that turns him into a golden sex pony" is a massive injustice. This film was an epic, beautifully shot feature about a father's expectations and sibling rivalry that almost tore a family apart during WWI, and Brad Pitt is the glue that holds it all together. (It also won three Oscars). Sure, he rode around on a horse with his hair blowing in the wind, but his acting on the ground was rooted in amazing heart and realness. The rest of this article lacks all credibility after this poor assessment of the film.

  13. @Ross If you like the movie, I hope you've read the original story by Jim Harrison, one of America's greatest writers. It's truly brilliant.

  14. While I haven’t seen all of his films, by a long shot, I have never heard anyone say: Oh! We have to go see this! Brad Pitt is in it!

  15. @Sascha My family would laugh at that! When queried as to why I'm going to see THAT movie, the answer is always: "because Brad Pitt is in it!" DUH. He is so much more than eye candy.

  16. I don't know a single movie, where Brad Pitt's looks aren't relied on, and he does rely on them. He's a character actor, and he is a supporting actor; he's not a lead actor. I can't name a single movie, where there isn't some shot of him eating or him making some doe-eyed, dimple face. He always gets roles where he is surrounded by better actors, and therefore, the movie is always carried by someone else or makes him look better. Fight Club- Edward Norton; Ocean's 11- Clooney, Matt Damon; Babel- Cate Blanchett; Meet Joe Black- Anthony Hopkins; The Mexican- Julia Roberts; Troy - Eric Bana; Case of Benjamin- Cate Blanchett. His performance in Once Upon a Time was okay. And he'll basically be getting a lifetime oscar, but Pesci's performance is more deserving.

  17. What's more attractive? The cool or the looks? But a combination of the two: such a rarity to behold!

  18. Life has many memories of births, deaths, love, weddings, trips, things big and small, though I absolutely remember watching Pitt in Thelma and Louise. Even after he stole their money, I wanted to know who he was and his next role. And of course the turquoise T-bird with Harvey Keitel pleading with the girls.

  19. His problem is that it is very difficult to see the character behind his act, one always sees Brad Pitt. Perhaps only in Benjamin Buttons I was drawn by character, maybe interview with the Vampire. And no I dont see his torso, I see his masseter, his eating, his signature 'wild'.

  20. Pitt isn't underestimated for his looks, he's overestimated. Nine times out of ten his performances are mannered and self-conscious, with a reliance on awful accents designed to suggest the serious Streep-like actor he isn't. A less beautiful actor wouldn't stand a chance. For every ok "Once Upon a Time" there are five "The Assassination of Jesse James" that plummet in credibility when his pouting mug overwhelms the scene.

  21. @Greg Thank you for being the 1 or 2 out of 450 comments not to be afraid to say "you know what, he's not all that." And you're correct. Most of the commenters here seem like rabid Tiger Beat fans rather than NYT readers. Oy.

  22. I like Pitt okay. I watched the clip from Thelma just now. Pitt was, in the words of Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp, doing "his best James Dean." On the other hand, while Dean worshipped Brando, he largely lifted from Montgomery Clift. (Michael Parks did Dean his whole life.) Everybody has sources. Writers learn from reading; actors learn from watching actors. Pitt, who seems like a fine fellow, has graduated to himself.

  23. I do believe that beauty among men is unaccepted by the Society. Beauty is considered something for girls, not for serious and active men. Thus handsome men cannot be considered by critics among possible winners of whichever type of Oscar, Globe, Prize... However, this is not a problem for the guy, is a problem for the Jury.

  24. I'm a former talent agent and am here to tell you that there are SO MANY great-looking actors and wannabes out there who fit the "guy-babe" category, but Pitt seemed early on to at least try to transcend his looks, which trust me, isn't easy to do in show biz. Pretty people often have to work twice as hard for roles that play against their blessed genetics. I've seen A LOT of gorgeous men (and women) fail in their pursuit of stardom, often because casting directors and producers can't see past it to save their lives. While I've never been his biggest fan talent-wise, occasionally his subtle, nuanced character portrayals catch me completely off-guard and even I have to admit that his skills are aging nicely as evidenced by his top-notch work in "Once Upon a Time...", my favorite performance of his to date. It can't be easy playing off a juggernaut like DiCaprio, but Pitt more than held his own - so much so, that I went to see it a second time (almost unheard of for me), just so I could really look more closely at HIS work. And for the record, I'm not AT ALL ashamed to admit that being a "woman of a certain age" - 66 - even I couldn't ignore that the guy at 56 yrs old looks unbelievably AMAZING in the shirtless roof scene! Eye candy that's worth grabbing your glasses for! Hey, I may be old, but I'm not above enjoying a beautiful view!!

  25. Mr. Pitt's good looks sell movies. His performances are shallow and self-conscious, sometimes almost cringe-worthy. He plays the same character: Brad Pitt. Sadly, his good looks have held him back in learning to act. That makes for a very long motion picture. There is no there, there, which may mirror Society.

  26. @Kathryn true. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a torture to watch. After that I am allergic to Brad Pitt movies.

  27. Pitt has learnt to act over the last 30 years and after being under the wings of some of the best movie directors. Now, he is a good actor.

  28. Gotta disagree with commenters that dismiss Pitt's talents as the work of an easy-going beautiful man playing himself. Not to detract from Ms. Dargis's analysis but to appreciate Brad PItt you have to discuss a performance she neglects: Brad Pitt's Sergeant Collier shirtless scene in Fury. That scene in Fury is incredible and complex and sublime as anything in film, and it works because Brad Pitt is at the center. However, unlike the scenes referenced by Ms. Dargis, Pitt's Sergeant is scarred, damaged and hard -- and incredibly real. Watch the scene and study his emotions. When I was a junior enlisted in the Army Reserves in the late '80's, all my Platoon/First Sergeants were weary Vietnam vets. I watch Pitt's Sergeant Collier, and I see them. Throughout cinema, few other true talents, like Willem Defoe, have been able to pull off that type of performance. Brad Pitt's Sergeant Collier resonates with a lot more American men than those that embrace Fight Club (with or without irony) -- and Pitt's performance as Sergeant Collier is more deserving of analysis than his performances in Fight Club or Thelma and Louise. One other thing about Brad Pitt's beauty trap. Pitt also stands apart for his production work with Plan B. Pitt's intellect and the films he backs proves he's not just a pretty face -- but he doesn't get the credit (not even in this article). No other actor -- male or female -- has gone on to help make such great films and that work is true beauty.

  29. Poor Michelangelo. This illustration effort remains an affront to the masterpiece, first with a fig leaf, then with a poorly photoshopped proportionate head replacing the intentionally excessive noggin that David was sporting.

  30. My favorite Pitt role has to be in Burn After Reading. As the dimbrain Chad, the only muscles he flexed were the ones between his ears.

  31. I’m not sure I had seen Pitt in a movie before “Burn This”. But as I watched that movie, I realized the hype about him was not, in regards to acting skill, just hype—his portrayal of an earnest goofball was terrific and believable. Makes me laugh remembering the goofball. So this is the great Brad Pitt, I thought, funny as all get-out and unafraid to go against his pretty-boy image.

  32. @whaddoino I got your numba, I got your numba!

  33. I beg to disagree with this article. Ad Astra was a boring movie and Pitt offered a bad performance. I couldn't finish watching the movie. Later I was on a plane and someone else was watching it so I could see the movie but not hear it. Pitt's was so stone-faced the whole time that it was amusing....I think he's conventionally pretty but not a good actor.

  34. If you think Ad Astra was a boring movie then you weren’t paying attention. But wait. You think Pitt is a bad actor. Now I understand.

  35. The head on that statue looks disproportionately small for that type of Greek statue.

  36. It's not a "Greek statue".

  37. Like most of us, I have no idea what he’s really like, but I’d put up with a lot before I’d send him packing!

  38. Brad Pitt did not treat Jennifer Anniston very well as a husband although they seem to have mended their friendship. Brad Pitt did not treat Angelina Jolie very well as a husband (allegedly due to substance abuse) and it is unknown whether they will end up as friends or not. So, in the past Brad Pitt was not an attractive man. Attractiveness is more than someone’s looks and his treatment of his two ex-wife’s shows an ugly and immature side. So if we are in the business of judging poor Brad Pitt let’s just limit it to his acting abilities and not his attractiveness.

  39. @Madeleine Brett Duh??

  40. @Madeleine Brett We might also want to rely on information beyond that gleaned in the celebrity press. To what extent are you privy to Pitt's private relationships..?

  41. @arjay Brad Pitt NYT interview September 2019.

  42. Ad Astra was my favorite movie of the year! Totally underrated film. Not only was it about the trials of loneliness and the distances between fathers and sons, it had an epic moon-car laser-gun battle.

  43. Robert Redford was prettier... but not as interesting to watch when performing. So I gotta give Brad credit there. He is much more a character actor and that's what makes him watchable. I think he gets it and really enjoys that aspect of his performances. Good looks get people to look at you, but interesting character keeps people watching to see what happens next.

  44. I lost Pitt during the Bruce Lee scene. He's done great work but somehow his coolness as Cliff didn't push him to an award-worthy performance.

  45. Such a good article. I thought so much about Paul Newman and Robert Redford while reading this article. The three of them in my mind sound so much alike. They are/were the kind of guys you'd want to hang out with and they seem like they would hang out with you, everyday type guys.

  46. I would like to see A.O. Scott write the same article about Charlize Theron. Good luck with that.

  47. I haven’t even read the first sentence of this piece....but am mightily struck by the contrast between the image for this story and another NYT story running concurrently on 'Hollywood trying to end sexploitation.' Really??

  48. @arjay quite the irony isn’t it? I guess it’s essential for literal minded folk like us to comprehend that, while women can be driven to distraction (and endless lascivious commentary as this section bears clear testimony) there is no corresponding mechanism to advise them of their hypocrisy in robbing men of any such equal opportunity.

  49. @arjay Like a certain Dowager Countess I wonder, Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?

  50. I’ve always thought people had trouble looking past Brad Pitt’s good looks to see what a good actor he is. He’s had many great roles in the past, but In “Once Upon a Time...” his cool was the perfect contrast to DiCaprio’s desperate insecurity as he feels it all slipping away. He is a good “buddy” to other strong actors, but in “Ad Astra,” he carried the film on his own; you could feel his pain and feeling of abandonment. I’ll always go to a film because Brad Pitt is in it, not in spite of the fact.

  51. Oh, the shade thrown Brad Pitt’s way. Loved him as Cliff Booth in “Hollywood”. And loved him maybe more as Roy McBride in “Ad Astra”. The latter may be my favorite movie of the year. Say what you want, Pitt has endured. And just keeps getting better with age...

  52. Ad Astra and Pitt’s performance both were awesome.

  53. Great article.

  54. Eye heart Brad Pitt.

  55. Brad Pitt looks like a fit teenager with wrinkles. Cary Grant, in contrast, was a handsome man.

  56. @Anon9 Good comparison. Have a look at Cary Grant n Father Goose at the age of 50 vs. Pitt now at 57.

  57. He’s absolutely underrated, I agree. He’s simply and originally Brad Pitt.

  58. He was terrific in Snatch - his dissolute confidence completely defined the film and made it a cult classic.

  59. Well, the article did not mention "Meet Joe Black". This is my favorite Brad Pitt movie (I've only seen one). I think he was portraying a being who, having no emotion himself, was observing living people having emotion. To me, each character was differentiated by showing how he or she experienced emotion, such emotion being based on the life situation in which they found themselves in at that particular moment. I'm trying to say that I think that human emotion was the central focus of the movie. Brad Pitt's role was to be an observer and to portray the interest in and puzzlement at or enjoyment of when and how other people felt then expressed emotion. It was not to portray the usual aggressive sexpot. This difference in the lead character's stance made it a breakthrough part for Pitt in my opinion. Maybe that movie just slipped the column author's mind.

  60. @Rbts Rbts from Texas hit it on the noggin. It was in Meet Joe Black, a mediocre film in which one has to struggle hard to suspend disbelief, that I first realized that Pitt could act and act well--to the point that he completely transcended the 3rd rate vehicle in which he was appearing and literally carried the whole awful film on his (beautiful) shoulders. It was a difficult part in which he as an actor had to portray a non-human learning how to mimic a human; in other words how to ACT. He was brilliant in Thelma & Louise,Fight Club and Once Upon a Time, but it hit me first in Jack Black that he is much more than a pretty face.

  61. Brad Pitt is truly an incredibly gifted actor who also happens to have won the world's genetic lottery. He's so beautiful it hurts to look directly at him, much like staring into the sun. I can't help but wonder how much of what you describe though is truly his being underrated given his blinding beauty or the roles he gravitates towards? Is this the Academy's inability to see him as anything but the shirtless Apollo, or more about the Academy's tendencies to honor performances for roles in which the actor both transcends and quite literally transforms? DiCaprio in The Revenant, Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club or McConaughey, who became skeletal while delivering an incredible performance are a few that come to mind. If this kind of recognition and affirmation were the priority for Pitt, he could deliver. I kind of love that he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. At least, not seriously enough to select roles motivated primarily by Oscar gold.

  62. I found it telling that, at the Golden Globes ceremony, Brad Pitt said he would have liked to bring his mother to the event but gossip would abound about his new love interest. He is more than a pretty face...

  63. I've been a professional actor for 30 years. I'm a few years older than Brad Pitt and remember distinctly his breakthrough performance in Thelma & Louise. I've always had a high opinion of him. His performance in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is absolutely top-notch. His role is unusual - a low-status character, a bumbler, almost a loser, but who has great integrity, courage and inner strength. Pitt succeeds brilliantly in playing this quirky, contradictory man. I really admire his work in this film.

  64. Pitt is one of our greatest male actors. His few scenes in The Tree of Life as a young father are riveting, intense and complex.

  65. Imagine the incredible acting talent we'd have if beauty was not such an important selection criterion. Even today, many of those who are now the "serious" actors started out being selected at least for their looks. I've nothing against any of them, but I'm glad that I wasn't born an immensely talented actor who just didn't have the right bone-structure or hair to make it ...

  66. I have forever downloaded in the hard disc of my mind the supreme moment of unadulterated pleasure when Brad Pitt graced the screen in Thelma and Louise. We all knew, right then and there, just what lay ahead, all that larger than life and nothing but superlative will do; because the word movie star, baby, was invented just for you.

  67. Perhaps I missed it in this article, but I really liked him in “Seven”. Also “A River Runs Through It”. Brad has a pleasing shell, but from what I have seen from his interviews, he seems pretty down to earth.

  68. I find Brad Pitt neither particularly good-looking nor a particularly strong actor. Quite honestly, I believe the obsession with Pitt's looks says more about a preference for a Eurocentric beauty aesthetic than anything else. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

  69. Anyone can act. Anyone can do anything, if they have the passion for it. I know: it does't fit your capitalist dogma.

  70. @Thomas Paine to state the obvious:...yes, anyone can do anything...but no one can do everything well, and not everyone can do even one thing among the best of all the people that do that one thing...so, yes, anyone can act...many, however, even with passion and hard work would be mediocre at best...

  71. @Thomas Paine No human can deadlift 10,000 pounds.

  72. Please spare us any sympathy for beautiful people. The vast majority of the rest of us who are at best average . . .but more likely worse. . .would gladly tolerate anything they have to put up with and more. . .to receive the tremendous advantages that good-looking people have over everyone else in every field of endeavor. Anyone with the gall to say otherwise who does have physical beauty. . .let them trade places with the rest of us for a time and then ask them if they want to make the change permanent. As Marlon Brando was honest enough to admit, "Acting is just a craft." Many, many people could do as good a job or better than these supposed icons of the screen but simply don't have the looks to get the parts.

  73. Reminds me of what owner Penny Chenery said of the foal Secretariat: "He was wonderful looking, almost pretty to be good." Sometimes you can have everything.

  74. For me the reveal of Brad Pitt the actor came with his turn in 12 Monkeys. I wasn't a fan, he didn't even register with me, but that performance - as lunatic as it was - was a reveal. Beautiful or not, the guy can act. John~ American Net'Zen

  75. I've been a huge fan ever since 12 Monkeys, and Fight Club and World War Z. He's a great actor, very overlooked. He's amazing.

  76. “Fury” was the movie that showed me Brad Pitt and Oscar are destined for each other. That didn’t happen, so I’m happy for Mr. Pitt it looks like this is the hear.

  77. I have loved the cinema and power of film since I saw Shane in 1953 with my father. I can honestly say that Brad Pitt is much, much more than a handsome face. He is that, sure, but inside, he is a character actor who oftentimes disappears into his roles. I am thinking of Inglorious Basterds, Fury, Benjamin Button, Moneyball. His performance in Troy was underrated in my opinion. He is a pleasure to watch, and it has been wonderful to see his career blossom over the years. He is most deserving of Academy recognition next month.

  78. no mention of PItt's work in "Snatch"? Hilarious and heartrending - and to stand out in that bigger than life cast was an achievement indeed.

  79. SNATCH by far one of Pitts BEST roles!! That gypsy dialect could not have been easy....plus he is funny, thoughtful, nuanced..he is genius!

  80. I agree with Barbara and Kimberly -- Snatch is Pitt's best role, by far. Strange how it is NEVER mentioned.

  81. Giving awards for 'best acting' is stupid and Marlon Brando knew that as far back as the 60s. In fact, the whole awards process is just a marketing stunt. That said, I dont think he did much to deserve a nomination in Once Upon a Time... it was Leo's film all the way. What I like about Brad is his range. He can be scary (Kalifornia) but he's actually at his best in comedies (like George Clooney). Especially when they work with the Coens. His turn in Burn Without Reading was hilarious. And of course Fight Club, which was a total scream. But then how can you not be great when working with material of that calibre?

  82. Brad’s epically unintelligible but somehow authentic Irish “Tinker” accent in “Snatch” is what convinced me this guy was a great actor. Heck, even my Galway-born mother said hearing him speak in this role triggered flashbacks.

  83. My husband and I saw "Once Upon a Time..." twice in 3 days. Both Pitt and DeCaprio were outstanding. My husband opined that they were so good because they each obviously respected the other's talent, and were willing to stand back and let the other guy "shine" in his scenes. The ending of the movie was indeed a showcase of each man's acting ability. One of the best movies I've ever seen. Would go again tomorrow.

  84. It is a really heavy burden being as pretty, charming, wise and humble as I am. I understand and feel Brad Pitt's pain. But Brad Pitt is no Denzel Washington nor Idris Elba nor Chadwick Boseman nor John Boyega nor Daniel Kaluya nor Winston Duke nor Sterling K. Brown nor John David Washington nor Daveed Diggs nor LaKeith Stanfield. Nor am I.

  85. Pitt is an odd one. As a gay man, I've never found him physically attractive, nor have I ever heard any of my gay friends coo over him. I don't know why. I can see the pieces are all there, but...meh. But as an actor and a person? I think he's fantastic. I loved him in "Once Upon a Time..." and most everything else I've ever seen him in. He's got a great range, and excellent comic timing. So yeah. I just don't know what's up.

  86. @Steven I used to think the same as you but I am really like his old guy looks...... those laugh lines. :-)

  87. Remembering my first viewing of "A river runs through it" I was overwhelmingly surprised with the movie itself and in particular Pitt's acting. He ultimately did not receive any award nominations which surprised me even more.

  88. "But Pitt has always moved with the absolute surety you see in some beautiful people (and dancers), the casualness of movement that expresses more than mere confidence, but a sublime lack of self-consciousness and self-doubt about taking up space, something not everyone shares. This isn’t swagger; this is flow." Omit the word beautiful and you could be talking about the dancer Fred Astaire, and the politician Barack Obama. It can be more than flowing, it can be floating - on invisible clouds.

  89. Is Pitt Hollywood’s - America’s - David? Will he end up in the Metropolitan Museum in New York?

  90. His best performances, IMO: Twelve monkeys, Seven and Killing them softly. He does not play pretty boy on any of them. Nor he's naked at any time. He could not look ugly if he tried, though. But that should suffice as proof of his acting skills.

  91. @Xavi ...and his small role in Snatch (though he does have to take off his shirt in the equally obligatory fight scene)...

  92. Pitt is an incredible actor — to me one of the best. It’s too bad society doesn’t allow for both - beauty and talent.

  93. It's great to read such an appreciation of Pitt's abilities. I'm sorry that it ignores how great a comic actor he is. He is hilarious in "Burn After Reading," and his comic timing in the few minutes that he had on an episode of "Friends" made the entire episode. Combine that with his choice of excellent films that he helps to produce and the fact that he makes for an intelligent, thoughful interview, what you actually have is very smart, thoughtful man who just happens to be beautiful.

  94. "As a reminder, Rami Malek, Eddie Redmayne and Roberto Benigni have all won best actor." Don't remind us.

  95. Brad Pitt is an era-defining actor in the vein of previous great male actors such as Clark Gable and Carey Grant. Pitt has remarkable range, from gypsy to tuxedoed rogue he is believable and entertaining. Yes, he's beautiful. Yes, it's noticeable. But it's not distracting; it doesn't get in the way of a part. And Brad Pitt the person, as seen recently on the Golden Globes, is a well spoken, thoughtful, humble individual. How great an act was that? For entertainment, I'll watch Brad Pitt any time.

  96. Sorry you didn't mention Pitt's great talent at screwball comedy, which, for my money, Redford has never had. Both Burn Without Reading and The Mexican are movies I can watch whenever they role around with much enjoyment. As far as serious roles go, I think he deserved more praise than he go for his role in A River Runs Through It.

  97. Very good piece, and I agree that Brad Pitt has been underrated as an actor largely because of his looks (although as a gay man, the concept of a male actor’s beauty isn’t as hard to comprehend as the author seems to think it is). But was it necessary to slam Joaquin Phoenix to make her point? Phoenix’s work in “Joker” was superb, not because he lost weight beforehand, but because he attacked the role with a ferocity, fearlessness and lack of vanity that was extraordinary. He deserves to win this Oscar.

  98. @Roy I didn’t see Joker and I’m not going to see Joker. Yeah, rah Joaquin Phoenix played some comic book character, and there were some set pieces, none of which required him to truly act,

  99. I just assumed everyone knew he was a gifted actor! He was amazing in Guy Ritchie's "Snatch". Paul Newman, Grant - same thing. Newman in "The Verdict" was perfection.

  100. Thanks for the excellent article!

  101. Brad Pitt sure is watchable, even in ostensibly "bad" stuff like "Meet Joe Black." But I was blown away by his acting skill in the complicated "Babel," which had several stories being told at once. When his character finally speaks to his faraway kids on the phone and breaks down crying, he had my permanent vote. Plus, then, there's his Cliff. . . . .

  102. You lost me at "Legends of the Fall". If you think Pitt was a golden sex pony in that movie, you missed the entire point. It's about loss, grief, and regret. And Pitt and the rest of the cast executed it beautifully.

  103. Spot On description of Brad, and everything he personifies at least on screen. He oozes every aspect of sexuality, ( yet as the author commented on the usual phobias ) unquestionably male, and yes second fiddle doesn’t diminish him one iota.

  104. Robert Redford did well by Brad Pitt...recall "A River Runs Thru It" and "Spy Game?" I sensed they both knew only too well that their shared sense of beauty, and somewhat similar sensibilities, lead them to CREATE roles that could showcase their talents and abilities, as well as their strong personal screen presence. It is likely that Redford saw Pitt as his heir apparent as both actor and filmmaker, and sure enough Pitt also went on to produce some impressive films. These "pretty boys" both seemed to want to tell a good story, and knew they would have to take matters into their own hands if they wanted to be thought of as actors- not movie stars.

  105. He is 57. And still has a body like this. I guess he deserves Oscar for that if nothing else. In Thelma and Louise that was good genetics. In Once Upon a Time that is a hard work in the gym and in the kitchen. Did he also really jumped up on the roof as Cliff, or was that done by a stuntman?

  106. Let's not forget Pitt's outstanding performance in Burn After Reading. Really good acting that is out of character and in a role he is not usually cast in.

  107. @JCM That’s the movie that got me to reconsider Brad Pitt. My husband and I just watched/rewatched Burn After Reading, and we were both laughing our you know what’s off!

  108. I saw Thelma and Louise when it came out, and I loved it, almost in spite of Brad Pitt. I thought he was too beautiful, too pretty even, to be believable (although I thought his performance was good). Fast forward to 2008, when Burn After Reading was released. I saw that in a theater, too, because, well, Frances McDormand. I see every movie of hers in a theater if it’s playing anywhere near me. Also, the Coen brothers, and Clooney. But the best, almost perfect, part in that movie was Brad Pitt’s. He was such a joy to watch, and I loved what age had done to his face. His physicality and the way he moves really made an impression on me. Echoes of Cary Grant, my teenage heartthrob when he was in his 80s. Then I went back and watched A River Runs Through It, which was much hyped when it came out in 1992, but frankly hasn’t aged well. I don’t know I could choose between what was most awe-inspiring, the Montana setting or Brad. (We were on a first name basis by then, or at least I was.) I enjoyed the article, and I agree that he’s simply one of the best actors working today. I’m going to rewatch Thelma and Louise and reconsider my first impression of Mr. Pitt. Long may he grace our screens.

  109. Characters like Cliff Booth, Roy McBride, Aldo Raine, Glen McMahon, Mr. O'Brien, and Chad Feldheimer - exist to me as those characters in the world they inhabit. They aren't Brad Pitt or the event of a persona he represents to us. Very few actors can disappear like that. It's even rarer when you look the way he does.

  110. I understand this is about male actors. Most of whom are not classically handsome let alone beautiful the way they were 50 plus years ago. However, the hype over Brad Pitt, over the years, appears to be an astonishing PR stunt say it over and over again that he is beautiful and the public will believe it. He is no Michelangelo's David by any stretch of the imagination so putting his head on that statue is ludicrous. If one critically looks at him, his facial features do not equate to a beautiful standard in a classical sense by mathematical Greek or Roman principles. So it is clear what is going on. On the other hand, Henry Cavill happens to fit the classical standards of handsome or male beauty yet we do not see the same type or level of talk about him.

  111. Is Brad Pitt really so beautiful, or is he such a gifted actor that he has convinced people he is beautiful? Mae West is also rightly famous for that role.

  112. In the insatiable culture of Never-Enough, it is maddening to judge actors (and people in general) only by one aspect of them, may that be beauty, intelligence, witts, compassion, or all and any other. Continue to be your best version of you because, for others, we are never what is in their imagination that we should be. The rest is noise in the background. Brad Pitt has a reputable career and he (as any one elso) deserves respect and recognition. His character in Once Upon a Time, we all want to be flowing as Cliff...

  113. I've always admired Brad Pitt's acting. It's been obvious to me that his extreme good looks distract a little from his excellent talent. I've enjoyed every movie in which I've seen Brad Pitt.

  114. It’s not just actors. People can have a similar attitude toward beauty in men who are not actors, as Eugene Galt expertly portrayed in These Words Are True and Faithful.

  115. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. I really dont find him that beautiful...but Tom Hanks yes very much so!

  116. I don't know much about acting, but Tarantino has used Pitt multiple times so he must be decent. But he seems to play the same character in Tarantino movies: quirky male with subtle masculinity. I see this from Inglorious Basterds and Once Upon a Time

  117. Watch "Burn After Reading." Genius.

  118. "A risible dud that turns him into a golden sex pony"??? A risible dud Manohla?? Ok yes on the golden sexy pony BUT I will forever defend "Legends of the Fall" and Pitt's performance in it. Like Manohla's comment, most critics give this film a similar dud-like critique but watch it again (I can't believe it's been over 25 years since it premiered!) and you'll remember that Pitt gives a very deep and introspective performance to a very tortured character. Remember the scene at his brother's gravestone (spoiler!)? A moving vulnerability reflected in a very masculine character that was early in his career. Golden sexy pony? Yes but a deeply introspective golden sexy pony.

  119. Brad, Are you suffering under the weight of your extreme beauty? We plebians support you, despite the Academy. Mazel tov!

  120. Males are usually obsessed with female bosom. It seems that females too have the same obsession. Has time changed ?

  121. I'm just upset you trashed Legends of the Fall

  122. He is just so hot.

  123. Ad Astra sucks is a bad remake of the Event Horizon from the year 1997 with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill same plot but sorry i didn't see nothing great about Brad Pitt performance it lack passion and credibility and personally I could not immerse myself in the drama It was boring

  124. Ad Astra is a terrible film. The story makes no sense, the acting flat, the dialogue nonsensical.

  125. Wonder how Sean Penn - "Gunman" - was eliminated from consideration as current paragon of male physiognomy & cheesecake?

  126. Guaranteed that if Harvey Weinstein looked like Brad Pitt, Weinstein would not be on trial now. You know I'm right.

  127. I loved his performance in Burn After Reading.

  128. 'Scuse me fr livin', but what's so "beautiful" about this guy? Sure, he's got abs, but so do lots of other dudes. I don't get it. Clearly, he's a master at portraying sexpots, but "beautiful"?

  129. 'The Legends of The Fall', a "risible dud."? Nay. Nay. 'A Glorious, Mutant, Phantasmagorical, Giddy, Silly, Sometimes Solemn, Sometimes Stupid (but endearlingly so) Epic, Operatic, Utterly Persuasive Melodrama. Do not defame this Miracle of a Movie, Please.

  130. Give Brad his Oscar!

  131. What about his portrayal of the always-high doper housemate in the film True Romance (a Tarantino script) , all you Brad Pitt slobberers?

  132. Brad Pitt is not to be missed in “True Romance” as the perfect sunny Southern California stoner, using a plastic “Honey Bear” bottle as a bong.... and utterly guileless in dealing with the Mob. One of his earliest roles, and perfectly cast. Whether stoner, fighter, time traveler, astronaut, or alcoholic fisherman (to name just a few), Pitt’s myriad roles show much more than just a pretty face. And his career has spanned, what, 30 years and still going strong! Pretty remarkable.

  133. I always thought Kalifornia never got the attention it should have. Pitt was amazing, but so were the other actors, the story, the cinematography. It all came together in a truly chilling, original story. One of those movies you can watch more than once and see something new each time.

  134. I thought Pitt's work in "Once Upon a Time" was an excellent parody of a slacker-macho stunt man. He was "male" but his slouchy, overly laid back, slow talking character managed to push back against what could have been a very macho role.

  135. My favorite Brad Pitt: Chad in "Burn After Reading"

  136. The reason Brad Pitt received the initial roles he did was due to his beauty. He would not have been cast as Thelma's one night stand if he had looked like....any ordinary Joe. So while the author writes a "poor Brad Pitt" column, one could argue that poor Brad Pitt would be just another struggling actor if he didn't look like Brad Pitt. I am sure he feels very lucky in life and does not need a statue to tell him he is worthy of superstar status.

  137. You can be the most brilliant actor known to homo sapiens but if you don't look good on camera - if the camera doesn't "love you" - you're not going anywhere in film; Hollywood film, anyway. And don't forget: a stage actor has one chance per show to hit the mark, the right tone, the right look. Film actors get chance after chance after chance to "get it right". Just because an actor helps create a "perfect" scene, a "perfect" moment, does not make the actor "supremely talented", or just "good". Actors are mere pieces in the business of selling soap, the true purpose of Hollywood being, as it always has been, to make money; if "art" happens, no matter, just as long as it sells. Pitt sells tickets; matters not a toss if he's pretty or brilliant.

  138. I appreciate that Brad Pitt, despite the constant adulation about his beauty, for decades, seems to keep his wits about him and take it for what it is: excessive focus on something that is superficial and not really in his control. He is followed closely, yet I have not heard instances of him unfairly using that gift to take advantage of people; which you hear of so commonly with others. He also has said that he does not want to hide his aging. He seems real, despite unreal beauty.

  139. Every time I see Brad Pitt in anything, I clutch my AARP card and sigh.

  140. Well said. His talent goes far beyond the screen - that’s what makes him beautiful. Looks fade but inner beauty does not. Keep being the kind, intelligent, & socially responsible person you are Brad! It comes thru on the screen & in life.

  141. Best thing ever: was Brad Pitt at the recent "Oscar nominees luncheon" which gathered together all the current Academy Awards nominees......a large group. And Brad Pitt, alone, wore a name tag.

  142. Um. Wait. You want us to feel sorry for Brad Pitt? The Brad Pitt? The one that is a movie star? The one that was married to Jennifer Aniston but *that* wasn't good enough for him so he left her for Angeline Jolie? The one who was engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow (ok that I do feel a little badly about.) The one who is worth $300M? The one that lives in a house that was featured in Architectural Digest? The one whose name is a noun that defines having it all? The one who was not only blessed to have been born healthy, white, male and beautiful but talented and lucky? The one whose craggy laugh lines perfectly complement his megawatt smile even at his age? The one with not one but SIX beautiful children, each more adorable than the next? THAT guy? What is next: a Go Fund me for Tom Brady?

  143. @GWE I didn't exactly get the vibe that I should feel bad for him, more just that his talent is overlooked because of his beauty. But I can understand that angle. And your comment about Tom Brady made me laugh out loud.

  144. There's an idea that beauty is something you're born with, and so should not be praised. But that's not completely true. Yukio Mishima said that to create a beautiful work of art, and to make one's body beautiful, are identical. Physical beauty can be an expression of something other than a simple genetic sequence.

  145. Wondering why the author chose a clip of a shirtless Brad Pitt if her objective was to encourage an appreciation for his acting skill rather than his hotness.

  146. I saw his latest film Once upon... and for me he was just being brad Pitt. He was okay. He should have gotten an award for his character in Burn after Reading. Excellent role and film.

  147. Reading through the comments I note an absence of feminist shrieking about the "objectification" of Mr. Pitt. Bit of a double standard there, I'd say.

  148. A good essay despite the clickbait, superficial title (I almost didn't read it. Who writes these headlines?). I disagree about Legends of the Fall--compared to movies today, it was a piece of art.

  149. a lot of this is centered on the notion that Whiteness is considered the norm, and thus more beautiful than Blackness in the U.S. ... which is wrong, but still the current tenet in 2020 mainstream media and movies.

  150. Oh...My...God. Michaelangelo could not have created a more beautiful man. And yes, his work in "HOLLYWOOD" was masterful.

  151. Brad Pitt is exceptional in "Ad Astra; for almost the entire movie his only "acting" is done with his face...the rest of him inside a very large space suit. I don't like sci-fi movies, but I respect the talent of Brad Pitt, and I was riveted to the very end of that movie... by the story, and also by the depth, breadth and magnitude of his acting. (To be honest, agreeing to watch Pitt for a couple of hours is no hardship.) He was wonderful in "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood," too. Like Redford, Newman, Grant...he is so much more than his beauty. I do disagree with this article's author a bit, though. In my personal experience, and in my experience as a personal coach for 20+ years, beautiful people can often be "different" than you and I. Because they possess beauty, we foist our expectations and beliefs onto them, and they do not have the same "opportunities" as you and I to learn and grow through challenges. They often get a "pass" - or folks perceive them with rose colored glasses and illusions - in ways you and I do not. Sometimes that results in emotional immaturity, a self-serving attitude, and at worst...the development of sociopathic tendencies. Pitt is not one of these people; his tangible "real life" experiences are written all over his face and he generously shares that with us. It's up to "beautiful people" to choose to learn, grow, and evolve; it's up to us to keep our paradigms, perceptions, beliefs, and illusions...to ourselves.

  152. You left out Tree of Life. Pitt really surprised me with his character read.

  153. Pitt has been in a few good movies, but he's just not a good actor. Sorry, that's my opinion and I'm going to stick with it until he impresses me with a performance.