lIf I was part of the Hollywood elite, I’d spend an inordinate amount of time mulling over which photo of me they’d use during the Oscars “in memoriam” segment. Would it show me young and vital? Old and dignified? A character from my most cherished movie, in which I played a fat baker who was bitten in the groin by a small dog?
I mention this because, if I had to guess, Brad Pitt doesn’t care about this for a moment. Not anymore. Because thanks to the selection of portraits that accompany his new GQ interview, we already know what he will look like dead.
Look at the cover. It’s extraordinary. Pitt’s hair is combed back, he wears a gold locket and an extremely combustible-looking shirt, lying on a bed of artificial flowers. His eyes are open. He has mascara on. He looks like some undertakers have tried to brighten up his corpse before his family comes to visit. Oh, and there’s a lizard crawling all over him.
Amazingly, this is the least surprising setup of the shoot. Scroll through the interview and you’ll see Pitt dressed as a wax figure of Jim Morrison having a stroke, chewing his finger while wearing a bright yellow safari suit, and hiding at the site where they dug up Billy Batts in Goodfellas dressed as the Czech Republic’s 14th best stage magician and an A+ impression of Tino the artistic mouse from Hey Duggee.
Part of me is impressed. In the past, I’ve attended photo shoots where actors have refused to do anything even remotely interesting. For example, recently I saw an actor politely but firmly refusing to face a plain hotel room wall because they thought it would be “too weird”. Meanwhile, a photographer in Los Angeles told Pitt, “Hey Brad, do you mind if I set your hand on fire?” and his response was, “Great! Can I look like I’m peeing my pants too?” Whatever you think of the photos, you should applaud his effort.
Still, GQ has done a very thorough job of taking down one of the world’s most photogenic men and making him stunningly unphotogenic. If I had to guess how this happened, I’d say the biggest culprit is the interview itself.
It’s an example of the worst kind of celebrity magazine profile. It’s selfish and fake deep, determined to whip up even the most mundane exchange until it sounds like a statement from God. There is a long time left whether he prefers cold or room temperature water. There’s a tract on nicotine coins. At one point he just stops talking and the interviewer, stunned with awe, can only marvel: “Silence is especially dramatic when Brad Pitt creates it.”
As such, an inordinate amount of the interview is spent on the most boring topic on Earth. That’s right, Pitt describes his dreams. Nothing special comes out of this – he had a recurring dream in which he was stabbed – but nevertheless it is substantial enough to exclaim on the cover of GQ: “Brad Pitt opens his dream world”. So it makes sense that the accompanying photo shoot is all about dreams. And so a major magazine got around to dedicating several pages to one of the world’s most famous men doing bad David Lynch cosplay.