by Jack Tewksbury
For forty years the HFPA has recorded interviews with famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 interviews — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. Below is an excerpt: way back in the early 1990, when an unknown Brad Pitt was starting out in Thelma and Louise, Kalifornia and A River Runs Through It, this is how he described his background, his vocation and his first forays into Hollywood.
“Where I’m from is a million miles away. I call it the Ozarks. A little bit of Huckleberry Finn, with rivers and lakes, trees and places to go get lost. I come from a very stable Christian family. I have a younger brother and younger sister, both married. Dad’s into the outdoors, and had a business. I’m crazy about all of them.
I just went home and spent three weeks there. There’s so much going on in Hollywood, it was good to get home for a while. It’s funny when you’re sitting home in Missouri, you see fame, you see money, you see all these things. They’re definitely an attraction, but when you come out here it turns into something else.
If you’re going to last, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. I’m not saying I despise money, but my dream was not about the fame or the money. It was about those movies I watched sitting by myself in the dark. Seeing films offered me a different way of looking at things. They gave me reasons why people do the things they do. They helped me realize that I could leave Missouri if I wanted to.
After high school I went to college but I got bad grades, and I got it into my head it was time to go, so I left two credits short. Acting wasn’t available there on any level that you could respect, but once I figured out in my head that I could leave, I left two weeks later. Since then, however, they’ve called and asked me to come back.
When I first arrived in L.A. I had a million jobs. I slept the first couple of nights in my car, and I lived six different places the first eight months. I met people where I could kind of crash.
The first week I started doing work as an extra but I also I delivered chickens and refrigerators. I rented a room where I told the landlady, “It’s so small you couldn’t swing a cat.” She replied, “No problem. I don’t allow animals.”
And then, about nine months later, I got my first part in Dallas. Then, episodic television and Movies of the Week until I got Thelma and Louise.
I was in this acting class, and a woman in the class had an audition with an agent. She needed a partner to do a scene. It was one of those classic stories I did the scene with her and ended up with the agent.”
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