Brad Pitt on Recording His Dreams, Bullet Train and the Hunt for Buried Treasure
Mining his dreams to find out what meaning they might hold, he says, is part of this process. Just like probing your own past for the wisdom that comes from your challenges. “Here in California,” he says, “there’s a lot of talk about being authentic yourself.” It would torment me, what does “authentic” mean? [For me] it was about acknowledging those deep scars we carry.
Pitt has a number of properties in Los Angeles and beyond – a beach house near Santa Barbara, a modernist glass-and-steel residence also in the Hollywood Hills – but it was this Craftsman home, which was an integral part of his life throughout his tenure as a movie star, where he’s been locked down for much of the pandemic. Inside, the walls are a cedar caramel hue, and the downstairs rooms are outfitted with vintage furniture and tasteful artwork. There are no obvious family photos on display, and no luxury flourishes in the place, other than the simple finesse of the house, perfect in adhering to its turn-of-the-century aesthetic.
When he greets me, Pitt wears neutral tones, draped khaki pants and a baggy white T-shirt, like a man trying to camouflage himself in a wheat field. The colors are reminiscent of the Midwest, the big skies. Pitt grew up in the Ozarks, a place he talks about fondly. A scented candle perfumes the kitchen where he cheerfully offers me a drink: tea, coffee, water, juice, alcohol. I’m sober, like Pitt, who hasn’t had a drink in almost six years. I take water, too.
“Cold or room temperature? ” he asks.
I chose cold because I want to see in his fridge: almost nothing in it, just the cold blue glow of electric light. “All my friends have gone to room temperature,” he says. Ambient temperature. It seems appropriate. The atmosphere here is soft and calm.
“Is there anyone else in this house?” I ask him.
“No,” he said quickly. He has a friendly but acerbic way of answering yes or no questions that he would, I suspect, prefer that I didn’t pursue. No. Yeah.
In the fireplace, there is a barely smoking log, and Pitt pulls out a chair as if to bask in its warmth. His eyes are clear and pale blue and they catch the light when he turns to me.
“It was the first place I bought when I made money in 1994,” he says. Pitt purchased the property from Cassandra Peterson, best known for her television and film roles as campy horror host Elvira, Mistress of Darkness. She told stories of the haunted house when she lived here, saying she once heard the sound of footsteps coming from the uninhabited third floor, saw the ghost of a nurse and a man in period clothing sitting by the fireplace. She also claims Mark Hamill told her he lived in the house in the 1960s until his roommate hanged himself in a bedroom closet. “It was really run down and run down,” Pitt tells me of when he arrived. “I lived here for a few years, then bounced all over the place, just left friends crashing here, then somewhere in the next few years I fixed it all. I practically hid here.
Lately, he’s been up early to play the guitar, an activity he took up at the start of the pandemic. He’ll go down to the living room, where he’ll light a fire and scratch a little. He feels comfortable here, he says, but is also happy to get out of town, often driving up the coast to his beach house – a trip just long enough to feel like an escape. “I’m driving and it just feels like I’m taking off a coat or something,” he says. When he comes back to town, he says he can feel the weight of the place. “As soon as you turn in front of Santa Barbara, I feel it coming. The shoulders start to rise a little higher, and I feel it. I’m not sure what it is and how to deal with it yet. At goes out and travels a lot.