He delights his fans in the heart of summer. Brad Pitt will be on view, Wednesday, August 3, from Bullet Traina police comedy set on board a train in which seven murderers try to liquidate themselves. On the occasion of his promotion in Paris, the actor and producer within the company Plan B Entertainment gave himself to the 20 hours of France 2, in an interview to be found in full on franceinfo.fr. He talks about his new opus, his wishes for the future and his feelings about the state of health of cinema today.
France 2: You are the poster of the comedy of the summer, Bullet Train. It’s a completely crazy story where you play the role of Ladybug, an unlucky, not very professional hitman. What did you like about this role?
brad pitt : (Laughs) In the translation, you say it’s a bit of a loser, that’s it ? Yes, he really is, he’s a jerk and playing a jerk is really the funniest thing. He always does a bit of shit, can we say that? He always has good intentions, but he fails all the time.
The action takes place on a high-speed train in Japan between Tokyo and Kyoto. It is the country of moderation, where transport is perfect, clean, silent… There, you arrive and you break everything in this train.
Yes, indeed, but I suspect that in real life it’s only quiet on the surface and behind the scenes they’re just as crazy as we are. I’m doing this wonderful trip between Tokyo and Kyoto… It’s true, in the film, nothing goes as planned! Everything explodes.
“To sum it up, it’s a film where six or seven sociopaths get on this train. Everyone has their own intentions, their purpose on board and everyone gets in the way of that. That’s what creates all the conflict and humor.”
It’s a very funny film, very aesthetic, very brutal too. Do you know how many people you kill in this movie?
It’s the footprint of David Leitch [le réalisateur de Bullet Train], who is an old friend and started out as a stuntman. He continued working on John Wickthen was director of Dead Pool 2. His touch is the encounter between ultra-violence and humor with great kinetic energy, that’s what makes the film fun and perfect for the summer.
You talk about your relationship with David Leitch. He started out as a stuntman; he was even your stunt double in some movies like fight club. So you had known each other for a very long time?
Absolutely ! The first time we met was on fight club : he was my stunt double. He was very good, expert in combat training. Then we did The Mexican, Mr and Mrs Smith, Troy… That’s three films. Each time, he helped me develop the character, which I wanted to see on screen, and now he’s the writer of the film and I work for him, and he’s the one I obey. The circle is closed in a way… But he had already told me at the time of Mr and Mrs Smith that he wanted to become a director. I had answered: “Yeah, yeah, like everyone else… Good luck, mate!” And lo and behold, he succeeded.
In this film, you perform your own stunts, as you did in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It went well ? There were no injuries?
(Laughs) Ah, we always go home with bruises, sometimes a little blood! It very clearly happened to Aaron [Taylor-Johnson, acteur à l’affiche de Bullet Train]. But we did that with a lot of caution, everything was secure. It was in a studio because we were in full confinement. And it wasn’t just fights: there’s a lot of comedy in it, a bit like Jackie Chan, you know – who’s a really underrated guy, who we have a lot of respect for. So everything was designed with a lot of security, to create humor, to serve the characters… but also to add this ultra-violence.
So that’s it, are you a stuntman? You have loved ?
Not really… No, I’m a lazier actor! You see, there’s Tom Cruise: he does everything, like clinging to the cabin of an airplane… Well, I’m the other guy! Rather, I say: “No, listen, go ahead, I’m going to go get a coffee, I’m going to watch and then say ‘thank you very much’.”
In recent years, you have been more surprising in your roles, with characters who are quite far from the image one might have of you…
I am a movie fanatic. I’ve always loved all movies. I like movies with De Niro, I like movies with Will Ferrell, I like what new actors or actresses do, like Jodie Comer in Killing Eve… In short, I really like mixing. I like lots of different films, and I want to shoot in as many genres as possible.
“And this movie, Bullet Train, happened when we were in the middle of lockdown. We were all starting to go a little crazy, there was this kind of depression and people were getting really anxious. And I read that script and it just made me laugh.”
I said to myself: given the times, these difficult times, it will be perfect to release this film now, when people can finally go out and enjoy life.
You also turn a lot to production, you also won an Oscar as a producer in 2014 and another for best actor in 2020. When will you get an Oscar as a director? Would you like it?
No, that was never my goal. In fact, we were very lucky, with my production company, to get an Oscar in the best film category. It’s a great source of pride, but that was never the goal. My partners and I love stories, we love artists. We try to have the best stories, to help artists do what they want to do… and to make the best films possible. This is our project.
You produce auteur, independent films, supporting young actors. What do you like in this role of patron, of support for the cinema?
Yes, we work with recognized talents and emerging talents. It makes us very proud to give opportunities to them. It’s a big chance. But basically, it’s just worshiping what other people are doing. For example, we have Joey King in our film: she is impressive! We have another series, Paper Girls, who is going to date young women and it’s great to see how they take ownership of things. There are always decisions to be made in a scene. You look at the actors and you wonder if they’re going to go right, if they’re going to go left… And when they decide to do something that I never would have thought of, me, sometimes, I could literally scream with pleasure in front of the screen ! It’s just being part of it all.
What is your point of view as a producer on the state of cinema today? There was the Covid; in France, the number of admissions continues to fall. And there is competition from platforms, like Netflix… Does that worry you?
Not really. We have to move forward with the times, follow what the times dictate above all. I like that there are more films on streaming platforms.
“I like the fact that we can have the experience of the big screen and that of the platforms.”
I don’t think the big screen is going to wither away. Admittedly, it is more difficult to cover the cost of films that are broadcast in this way, so streaming makes it possible to find new talent, to release more new stories… I went to see Elvis at the movies with the young Austin Butler. It kills everything on screen! It was great to see that and to be with other people to see it. We need this experience for these kinds of films, and Bullet Train is a good example. When people start laughing in a room, it’s contagious and it’s great. But again, there is room for streaming and I like that dichotomy.
You started your acting career very young, but before that, you had studied to be… a journalist. So journalist Brad Pitt, what would he ask the actor today?
So, I wasn’t very good at it; that’s why it didn’t last! So I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. I don’t know… What I can say is that I’m happy that we can talk more about the difficulties, the ordeals we’re going through. I feel like over time, we can more and more face our weaknesses, bring them to the table and even find humor in them. And thank you to comedy and comedians for allowing us to laugh at ourselves. In fact, I could not add anything to what you are doing.