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Hollywood Waits for Brad Pitt

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 27, 2011 at 9:58AM

In Hollywood, Kevin Kline is known as "Kevin Decline," because he's so picky about his parts. Robert Redford and Warren Beatty were notoriously indecisive about choosing projects to star in or direct. They could keep movies on hold for years. Today, the star that can freeze a movie in its tracks is Brad Pitt. While someone like James Franco is saying yes to every project in sight --"how long will this heat last?"--Pitt is very selective. And he's in demand: at 47 he's at the top of his game, still handsome, not too young and callow, not too old and grey. He carries a masculine, athletic authority. He can be serious (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), funny (Burn After Reading), sexy (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or dangerous (Inglourious Basterds). That's a deadly combo.
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Thompson on Hollywood


In Hollywood, Kevin Kline is known as "Kevin Decline," because he's so picky about his parts. Robert Redford and Warren Beatty were notoriously indecisive about choosing projects to star in or direct. They could keep movies on hold for years. Today, the star that can freeze a movie in its tracks is Brad Pitt. While someone like James Franco is saying yes to every project in sight --"how long will this heat last?"--Pitt is very selective. And he's in demand: at 47 he's at the top of his game, still handsome, not too young and callow, not too old and grey. He carries a masculine, athletic authority. He can be serious (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), funny (Burn After Reading), sexy (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) or dangerous (Inglourious Basterds). That's a deadly combo.

He's also known for pulling out of movies such as Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain and The Fighter and Kevin Macdonald's State of Play when they aren't just right. Why not be choosey? A star doesn't stay a star by doing favors for cronies and studio execs (see Burt Reynolds, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone). Longevity comes from the right mix of making your audience happy (Harrison Ford) and thinking about how your legacy will look in the history books (George Clooney). It certainly has nothing to do with how much money you get paid. So what's coming up for Pitt?

Wrapped or In Production:
The Tree of Life (Mr. O'Brien, producer): Terrence Malick's long-awaited drama premiering at Cannes May 16 (Fox Searchlight, May 27, limited).
Moneyball (Billy Beane): Director Bennett Miller's baseball drama with Robin Wright, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Sony, September 23, 2011).
Happy Feet 2 in 3D (voice): George Miller's animated musical sequel (Warner Bros., November 18, 2011).
Cogan's Trade (Jackie Cogan, producer): Andrew Dominik's drama about an enforcer investigating heist after a mob-protected poker game co-stars Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini (Weinstein Co., March 3, 2012).

It remains to be seen which of the projects not yet filmed or in development to which Pitt is connected will get made with him:
World War Z (Gerard Lane, producer)
Director Marc Forster is actively casting this Paramount zombie horror thriller adapted by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Michael Carnahan from Max Brooks' novel (World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War) for a June start on location in London and Malta. Pitt plays the interviewer collecting stories about the past zombie war. Mereilles Enos (The Killing) is his wife.

The Tiger (actor, producer )
Focus Features, Plan B and director Darren Aronofsky are developing this adventure-drama-thriller about hunting down a marauding tiger in Siberia, adapted by Babel's Guillermo Arriaga from John Vaillant's book.

Selma (producer): Lee Daniels directs Robert De Niro, Hugh Jackman, Tim Blake Nelson and David Oyelowo in this Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic. Currently in pre-production, with funding from Pathe.

Vlad (producer)
Plan B's biopic centered on a young Vlad the Impaler with director Anthony Mandler and Summit Entertainment attached. Scott Kosar (The Machinist) is penning the script.

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry (actor)
This Paramount project, with a script from Greg Mottola (adapted from Leanne Shapton's book) has been listed for a while, with Natalie Portman (and her Handsomecharlie Films banner) also attached.

The Fortress of Solitude (producer)
Pitt and Dede Gardner's Plan B is producing this Alfonso Gomez-Rejon writing/directing gig based on Jonathan Lethem's novel.

The Imperfectionists (producer)
Plan B has the rights for this Tom Rachman's sprawling bestseller, which follows various scribes over the decades who work in a fictional English-language newsroom in Rome.

Zebra Murders (producer)
This DreamWorks project is based on Prentice Earl Sanders's non-fiction book which chronicles racially charged serial murders in 1970s San Francisco and the two detectives trying to solve the crimes.

The Night Manager (producer)
Paramount's adaptation of the John le Carre novel, a 1994 bestseller.

The Sparrow (producer)
Warner Bros.'s adaptation of Mary Doria Russell's novel about humanity's first encounter with extraterrestrial life, scripted by Michael Seitzman with Jason Rothenberg.

Untitled Jerry Lee Lewis project (producer)
A biopic about the controversial rock and roll and country music legend, with director Terrence Malick.

Untitled Linda Trest Project (producer)
Paramount, with director Anthony Walton, script by Andrew Dresher, based on the true story of the journalist who exposed a con-man who posed as a federal agent to break into people's homes.

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Career Watch, Darren Aronofsky, Thriller, Brad Pitt, Fox Searchlight, Paramount/Vantage/Insurge/CBS


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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.