INTERVIEW - by Natalia Higginson

We chat with Brad Pitt, star of Tarantinoís latest, and, lest we forget - the most famous man in Hollywood

When you know that you are about to interview someone as mind-bogglingly famous as Brad Pitt, you try to stay cool. You remind yourself that, really, this man is just a good guy from the American Midwest armed with a charming smile Ė and a phenomenal career in the film industry. After all, heís got to be just like the rest of us: human. But the minute I shake his hand that internal voice starts screaming, reminding me that this is him: Brad Pitt. A megastar since Thelma And Louise 18 years ago, winner of countless acting accolades and now the lead in Quentin Tarantinoís long-awaited war film, Inglourious Basterds. So what do I do? Try and pretend that this really is just a bearded guy in a white T-shirt and baggy beige pants. So, here goesÖ

Iím curious Ė what got you interested in Tarantinoís new project?
This one came with a build-up of mythic proportions. There were rumours that heíd been sitting on this idea for eight years. People wondered: would he ever get to make it? Rumours were spreading that he wanted to make a WWII spaghetti Western. Then I got word this summer: he was going to get in touch with me because he was almost finished with the script and wanted to start shooting immediately. After that it was just one of those times when you read a script and thereís nothing you want to change.

Did you discuss WWII much with Quentin?
Well, you know this story basterdises history. I really enjoyed reading it [laughs]. I just wondered if we could get away with it, and then I realised Ė Iím going to do this! Ė and I didnít want to give a piece of it away. This felt like the finishing piece, the top to all Nazi-focused films. I felt you canít take it further than this.

Some of the critics have said that itís a very American movieÖ
In the sense that we [Americans] love a revenge story and historically in our cinemas they work well Ė yes, thatís fair to say.

How did you decide on the physical mannerisms of your character, Lt Aldo Raine: his walk, accent, moustache?
It was all written in the script. It was so well laid out, you know, it was a really clear road map. Quentin writes some brilliant characters. You really donít need to add anything. Why would you? Youíd only ruin his work of genius [laughs].

So, whatís your favourite Tarantino film?
I canít be sure. Iíve seen them all and I canít really say that one is better than the other. I mean, with directors like him Ė and thereís only a handful Ė itís really about their work collectively. This film is as good as any others that heís made; itís so outrageous.

And this isnít the first time youíve worked with QuentinÖ
I did a script that he wrote and Tony Scott directed called True Romance [in 1993]. Heís really good on his feet and not precious about his work: he makes moves and cuts sections out, and is so well versed in cinema. He is really impressive to watch, but then heís just good fun to hang out with too.

Iíve heard that he is rather talkative.
[Laughs] He tells a good story Ė but donít ever fall asleep on his setÖ ask somebody else what happens when you do that. Iím not going to tell you!

Does he let you improvise?
You know, you really donít improvise with his stuff because his dialogue is so good and so specific. I find that if you wander off the trail you just mess it up. He knows a little bit about acting and is good at throwing a wrench at your performance, say, if youíre getting a little stagnant and messing it up or sending it in the wrong direction. He knows how to get what he wants out of you, and he knows exactly what he wants.

Why did you start acting? What do you like about it?
I like movies, not so much acting, but I like movies, the cinema, the stories, and I like being a part of that. Iím not sure I like acting so much. Making a film is a collaborative process. If people like the movie, thatís credit to everyone who has put in the effort to make it happen; it takes us all. One person canít make it happen Ė but it does start and end with the director.

What have you learnt throughout your acting career?
That experience helps. Now I have shortcuts and shorthand to get to places faster.

What is your favourite movie of all time?
Dr Strangelove is probably my all-time favourite, and Apocalypse Now.

Have you ever wanted to direct a movie?
Oh no! It would be too painful for me. It would take up too much time. Iím too much of a perfectionist, it just wouldnít be a good mix. Iíve got too many other things I like to do, like being with my kids or building or something.

Iíve heard that you like architecture.
I have some partners, and weíve done some conceptuals for a few resorts, hotels and apartment blocks, but none of them have been built as yet.

Do you think youíll do more of it when you retire from movies?
Iím doing it now. I donít plan on ever retiring; there are so many interesting things to do. I think you make your own life and if you donít like it, itís your fault.