His roles in films through the years have seemingly gotten better, too, transforming him from a picturesque piece of eye candy (Legends of the Fall and Thelma and Louise, anyone?) into one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men. While Pitt still commits to the occasional "stand-there-and-glisten" role (as evidenced by last year’s bloated epic Troy), he’s also been able to secure parts in films that play upon many of his inherent strengths, including his natural abilities to be goofy, comical and just plain comfortable.
Granted, Pitt’s ability to play on his looks hasn’t fizzled one bit in the last 10 years or so. However, since making it big in the mid-1990s, Pitt has begun to pick out darker, edgier fare to truly stretch his acting chops – Seven, Twelve Monkeys, Fight Club and Snatch, just to name a few projects. And in the last couple of years, Pitt has successfully managed to strike a balance between playing pretty boys and real guys. His turn as cool, calm and collected criminal Rusty Ryan in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (and its sequel, Ocean’s Twelve), played to his comical sensibilities and, on June 10, he’ll be seen in the clever, action-packed, wit-driven romance Mr. and Mrs. Smith, costarring Angelina Jolie.
Directed by critical darling Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity), Mr. and Mrs. Smith stars Pitt as title character John, one-half of a humdrum marriage lacking sex, sensitivity and spontaneity. John is a highly trained assassin-for-hire who masquerades under the self-named cover of a successful construction business. His wife, Jane (Jolie), also runs a flourishing business – and, unbeknownst to her husband, is an extremely skilled assassin as well.
Jane and John don’t have any clue about each of their hidden lives. That is, however, until the two are hired by separate parties to kill each other. The incident in question is what sparks the true beginning of the action in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as well as what manages to rekindle the couple’s seemingly unraveling marriage. While John and Jane beat up on each other (literally) and practically blow their beautiful house to smithereens, they also manage to ignite their sex life and breathe new meaning into their five-year union.
It’s a little ironic, then, that the film – a wild romance about two people reconciling under the strangest means possible – comes out right on the heels of Pitt’s very public split from "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston, which has been reported to death in the tabloids over the last few months.
In a recent interview in GQ, of which he also graces the cover, Pitt – who fights bad guys in his boxers in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and engages in some steamy love scenes with his equally sultry costar Jolie – sets the record straight on the recent tabloid fodder surrounding himself and ex Aniston.
"Anything worth anything is a beast," Pitt tells the men’s lifestyle magazine about his marriage. "The thing I don’t understand is looking at this as a failure. It’s talked about like it failed, I guess because it wasn’t flawless. Me, I embrace the messiness of life. I find it so beautiful, actually."
And it just so happens that, in the last few months, Pitt’s private life has become a bit of a mess. He’s been living in a constant, brighter-than-usual public spotlight since his split with Aniston. Various tabloids have even speculated that it was Jolie’s involvement with Pitt that actually ended his seemingly blissful marriage. Pitt, however, told GQ that a lot of the things being said are just plain untrue. Instead, he claims that the paparazzi are just taking unnecessary potshots at him and Aniston.
"They’re really nasty out here. I mean, some of the things they’ve said during my and Jen’s split – things that are just deliberately said to get a rise out of her, just truly cruel – make me want to punch their lights out. And more toward Jen than me, which made me even more mad, because Jen’s an easier target," Pitt said in his GQ interview, which is currently on newsstands. "Grown men saying awful, despicable things. Things that a normal father or husband or brother would go and kill for."
According to Liman, who directs Pitt and Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, shooting the film wasn’t always easy, either, due mostly in part to Pitt’s recent breakup. Right around the time that Pitt and Aniston separated, Liman says that the paparazzi were virtually on the hunt for his buzz-cut leading man.
"They followed Brad the first day," Liman said in a recent Entertainment Weekly interview about Pitt arriving on set shortly after the split. "Somebody said, ‘That’s Brad arriving.’ We heard the helicopter before we heard him – a helicopter that had been following him since he left the Beverly Hills Hotel. That was taking it up to a new level."
Even with all the unusually heavy attention, though, Pitt – who’s spending a lot of his time these days working on eliminating both poverty and AIDS in Africa, as well as learning as much as he can about the art of architecture – isn’t going to disappoint his fans. The actor, who told GQ that acting "is a younger man’s game. I’ve got a few years left of a good run," is currently attached to a handful of projects. He’ll star in Chad Schmidt, in which he’ll play the title role of a struggling actor going up against the real Pitt (who he’ll also play, of course) in a number of auditions. He’s also currently shooting the drama Babel, alongside The Aviator’s Cate Blanchett and Bad Education’s Gael Garcia Bernal, which is due in theaters sometime next year.
Looks like whatever comes his way, Pitt will keep plugging along. And, after his sexy, funny, action-packed turn in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, that will be just what audiences want to hear.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith releases in theaters June 10.