After a lot of rumors and tabloid stories – including plenty about his failed marriage to Angelina Jolie – Brad Pitt has started talking about his difficulties with alcoholism. During an in-depth interview with a former co-star, he admitted to many mistakes and talked about what the cause of them was. Furthermore, the star mentioned how he was trying to fix it all.
We’ll return to Pitt’s struggles with alcohol a little later, but first let’s learn about his marriage to Jolie. The two were, for a while, Hollywood’s golden couple, despite media claims that their relationship had began as an affair while Pitt was married to actress Jennifer Aniston. Nevertheless, the actor left his wife for Jolie, who he’d met on the set of the 2005 movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Then the following year they had a child together.
Pitt had some of his biggest hits while partnered up with Jolie: including Burn After Reading, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Inglourious Basterds and more. Then in 2014 the couple officially married in a private, low-key ceremony – with all six of their children taking part in the celebration.
But cracks started to show not too long after that. In 2015 Jolie and Pitt made a movie together which was directed by the former. This was By the Sea, the first time the couple had co-starred since Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It was about a failing marriage comprised of a miserable wife and an alcoholic husband.
When the movie came out, Jolie claimed to The Telegraph, “[Pitt] and I have our issues, but if the characters were even remotely close to our problems we couldn’t have made the film. To be clear: we have fights and problems like any other couple. We have days when we drive each other absolutely mad and want space, but the problems in the movie aren’t our specific problems.”
Jolie went on, “Most of my films are based on a history that’s important to me. I don’t have the same connection with By the Sea although it’s important because humanity in life is important. But I think I am more comfortable making war films, to be honest… Not that marriage can’t be a little bit like that.”
But then Pitt and Jolie shocked the world; in September 2016 the celebrity gossip website TMZ announced that Jolie had filed for divorce from her husband. The reason given in the paperwork was “irreconcilable differences,” and the internet went absolutely wild.
Countless people turned to social media to express their despair, horror or amusement about the end of “Brangelina.” There were a lot of memes shared about Jennifer Aniston and the idea that the divorce of her ex-husband and the person he allegedly cheated with was a triumph for her. And gossip magazines, naturally, covered the story extensively.
Jolie’s lawyer, Robert Offer, released a statement later in September that year as the news continued to spread. It stated that Jolie had made the divorce decision “for the health of the family,” but furthermore “she will not be commenting and asks that the family be given privacy at this time.” Pitt, meanwhile, had something similar to say.
Pitt released a statement of his own to People magazine. It read, “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.” And “challenging” would definitely prove to be the right word.
Later that month the news broke that Jolie had been granted – for the time being – full custody of all six kids. And furthermore, the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services had become involved. Allegedly, Pitt had been drunk on the family’s plane and had been abusive to one of the children.
The news at that time was that Pitt and the family’s oldest child Maddox had entered into a verbal altercation. But an anonymous friend of the actor insisted to The New York Post, “He was never physically abusive to her or the kids. He did yell at one of their children on the plane during an argument, but he didn’t hit the child. [Pitt] is denying claims of inappropriate behaviour.”
TMZ uncovered and reported on the terms of the custody agreement. It wrote, “The initial visit is with a therapist present and [they] then [have] the power to either allow [Pitt] subsequent unmonitored visits or insist on being present whenever he’s around the kids.” And the actor would also be subjected to testing for drugs or alcohol content in his system. And according to TMZ, so far he had tested negative.
In November 2016 Jolie’s camp then released a statement to People. It said, “We can confirm that childcare professionals have encouraged a legal agreement accepted and signed by both sides over a week ago. In accordance with this agreement, the six children will stay in their mother’s custody, and the children will continue therapeutic visits with their father. This has been determined by childcare professionals to be in the children’s best interest.”
The statement went on, “We are not in a position to discuss the details. We hope now that it is clear that the events which led to the dissolution filing involved minor children and their wellbeing, there will be understanding of the sensitivity of the family situation. We believe that all sides are committed to healing the family and ask for your consideration during this difficult time.”
And later on in November 2016 it was announced that Pitt was no longer under investigation for alleged child abuse stemming from the plane incident. Both the Los Angeles Country Department of Children and Family Services and the FBI, who had also been involved, dropped their cases and filed no charges.
In January 2017 People published a statement which had been written on behalf of both Pitt and Jolie. It said, “The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues. The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification.”
In May 2017 Pitt then gave an extensive interview to GQ Style about how he was coping post-divorce. He told the interviewer something he had once heard from a lawyer, “No one wins in court – it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.”
Pitt went on, “And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees. It’s just very, very jarring for the kids – to suddenly have their family ripped apart.”
In the interview, Pitt shared some things about past substance abuse. He told the reporter, “… I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something.” The actor continued, “I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know – things I wasn’t dealing with.”
Pitt went on, “I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem. And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: you either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.”
Pitt said in the interview, “I mean, we have a winery. I enjoy wine very, very much, but I just ran it to the ground. I had to step away for a minute. And truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good.” The interviewer then asked how Pitt dropped it and he answered, “[I] don’t want to live that way anymore.”
Pitt’s interview naturally sparked a lot of attention. Off the back of it, The New York Post then published an article titled “Brad Pitt and the new alcoholism.” They interviewed people, both experts and sufferers, about the concept of “functional alcoholics” and how they hid their addictions from the world.
The newspaper spoke to New York City-based therapist Kimberley Hershenson. She said, “I’m seeing a lot of professionals like nurses, doctors and lawyers and successful people. It’s not people who are blacking out, unemployed or living in Section 8 housing. I’m seeing married executives with great careers, and nobody knows what’s going on with [their alcoholism].”
Carrie Wilkens, the co-founder of the Center for Motivation and Change, told The New York Post that she was glad that Pitt had spoken openly about his alcohol abuse. She said, “Many [celebrities] now seem more open to talking about it in a ‘I want to be a good role model’ kind of way, which is great.”
While promoting his new film Ad Astra, Pitt revealed to The New York Times in September 2019 that he had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for over a year. The actor told the magazine, “I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges.”
Pitt said of his group, “You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard. It was this safe space where there was little judgment, and therefore little judgment of yourself.” And despite Pitt’s fame, not one of those men had taken the story to the tabloids.
Alcoholics Anonymous – a worldwide organization dedicated to helping people find their way out of alcoholism via 12 steps – seemed to have helped Pitt quite a lot. He told The New York Times, “It was actually really freeing just to expose the ugly sides of yourself. There’s great value in that.”
In December 2019 Pitt then did another intensive interview. For this one he sat down with his Legends of the Fall and Meet Joe Black co-star Anthony Hopkins, and the two had a discussion for Interview magazine. The actor spoke again about the alcohol abuse and how he thought he’d ended up in that position.
Right at the beginning of the interview, Hopkins said to his old co-star, “I’ve read you had a struggle with booze and all that.” Pitt explained, “Well, I just saw it as a disservice to myself, as an escape.” Hopkins filled in, “It was necessary,” and the younger man answered, “To some degree, yes.”
Hopkins, meanwhile, is knowledgeable about “struggles with booze” because he’s been through the same thing himself. In 2018 he told an audience at the University of California that he ended up as an alcoholic “because that’s what you do in theater, you drink. But I was very difficult to work with, as well, because I was usually hungover.”
But Hopkins said that meeting a woman from Alcoholics Anonymous changed his life. The Silence of the Lambs actor told his audience, “From my own life, I still cannot believe that my life is what it is because I should have died in Wales, drunk or something like that.”
While talking to Pitt, Hopkins mused of his former problem, “I look at it, and I think, ‘What a great blessing that was, because it was painful.’ I did some bad things. But it was all for a reason, in a way. And it’s strange to look back and think, ‘God, I did all those things?’ But it’s like there’s an inner voice that says, ‘It’s over. Done. Move on.’”
Pitt agreed with the older actor, saying, “I think we’re living in a time where we’re extremely judgmental and quick to treat people as disposable. We’ve always placed great importance on the mistake. But the next move, what you do after the mistake, is what really defines a person.”
And Pitt went on, “We’re all going to make mistakes. But what is that next step? We don’t, as a culture, seem to stick around to see what that person’s next step is. And that’s the part I find so much more invigorating and interesting.” And Hopkins agreed, adding, “We’ve all screwed up.”
Later on in the interview, Hopkins said, “Why do we do the things we do? We have no idea. I don’t know why I drank all my life. I did it because it was the only thing I knew. I look back now and I think, ‘Well, it wasn’t bad, but I don’t want to do it again.’ I caused a bit of damage then, but I’ve made my apologies to people for doing what I did.”
Hopkins added, “It’s all part of being alive. And whatever power there is in us, it’s forgiving. It’s over. Forget it. Just move on.” Pitt told him, “I find that beautiful. And it makes me think of how prone we are to want to see things in black and white, and not really investigate the grays.”
Pitt also talked in the interview about the concept of forgiving himself for mistakes. He said, “I’m realizing, as a real act of forgiveness for myself for all the choices that I’ve made that I’m not proud of, that I value those missteps, because they led to some wisdom, which led to something else. You can’t have one without the other.”
Thankfully, things seem to be improving for Pitt now. His 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a big success, even though the well-reviewed Ad Astra turned out to be a bomb at the box office. He will also spend his first unmonitored Christmas with at least three of his children.
In another December 2019 interview, this one with The New York Times, Pitt said, “I spent most of the ‘90s hiding out and smoking pot. I was too uncomfortable with all the attention. Then I got to a place where I was aware that I was imprisoning myself.” But, he went on, “Now I go out and live life, and generally people are pretty cool.”