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Brad Pitt Talks 'Killing Them Softly,' Failed Democracy & Responsible Capitalism, Plus McQueen's '12 Years A Slave'

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood October 9, 2012 at 1:09PM

Guy Richie interviewing Brat Pitt for Interview Magazine is quite a read, and the photo spread of Pitt isn't too shabby either. Pitt had a great year in 2011 with "The Tree of Life" and "Moneyball," and he's kept busy with a handful of new projects. They discuss Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" and the state of American capitalism...
Pitt, Interview Magazine
Pitt, Interview Magazine

Guy Richie interviewing Brat Pitt for Interview Magazine is quite a read, and the photo spread of Pitt isn't too shabby either. Pitt had a great year in 2011 with "The Tree of Life" and "Moneyball," and he's kept busy with a handful of new projects. He and Richie discuss Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" (November 30) and the state of American capitalism and democracy, plus the Dominik-Pitt duo's "fine wine" film "The Assassination of Jesse James," Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" (which just wrapped production; Pitt is producing and co-stars with Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and others), "World War Z" and how Pitt is feeling about himself as an actor: "Pretty damn solid." Check out some highlights below:

How Pitt chooses his projects: "…even more as I get older, it's about the company that I keep. That's the most important thing to me—that if I'm gonna spend however long it takes to make a movie, give up 14 hours a day for however many weeks or months, then it's very important for me to know that I'm working with people who I respect and enjoy and that we're going for something together. That's it, really.

"...I'm interested in finding people who I think have a voice—and a very specific voice. It's hard to be surprised by a film. It's hard to be surprised by another actor or by a director when you've seen enough and been around. So when I am, or when I forget that I'm watching someone's movie, or when I don't know how someone made a certain turn that I didn't expect...You know, I'm in."

On the politics behind "Killing Them Softly": "In a way, it's a call for responsible capitalism. But Andrew wanted to juxtapose that idea with the financial crisis and effects of that because there's an interesting psychology at play in terms of who we are and what we do when given too much room. It started out in the '90s, under Clinton, with the good intentions of 'Everyone should own a house and have a shot at the American dream.' So you open up doors to make that possible by giving people these loans. Then, Bush comes in and deregulates everything, so there's no one at the helm, and it becomes easier to take advantage of it because there's no accountability. And then you know what happened from there—a lot of people got hurt. But it also says something about the nature of greed and what can happen when we don't look beyond that. At the end of the day, what it says is that we can't trust ourselves, that we need some governing body. I mean, people knew where things were heading–clearly, we got to the point where banks were actually betting against the very people they were giving these loans to.

"…And, by the way, most people's daily lives are just about surviving. Their lives are about making the weekly nothing and taking the kids out on a Sunday. Most people don't have time to really study the issues. And the media could help us, but there's capitalistic interest in the media outlets as well,..the Internet has done a wonderful thing for us. But democracy doesn't work unless people are well informed, and I don't know that we are. People just don't have the time."

On producing instead of acting: "I'd rather be behind the camera. As a producer, obviously, you're part of a team that brings the story to the screen. It wouldn't be there if you didn't champion it or if you and a group of people weren't championing it. I like that."

On "12 Years a Slave": "[It] is a very particular story about American slavery, which is a subject that some people think we've dealt with and done and put away, but then you see this story and you realize that we really haven't. It's based on the memoir of a free black man who lived in the North and who was tricked into slavery in the South. It's just a horror story in a lot of ways."

This article is related to: Brad Pitt, Interviews , Steve McQueen, Killing Them Softly, Shame, World War Z

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.