In the controversial female buddy picture "Thelma and Louise," Brad Pitt is J. D., the scene-stealing irresistible bad boy who teaches Louise (Geena Davis) a thing or two about sex and crime, then proceeds to rob and ditch her.

Mr. Pitt, who earned enthusiastic reviews for his performance, says: "I don't think the movie has some big moral the way a lot of people are making out, and I don't find it controversial." He says he just sees it as a slap in the face "for us guys -- and we deserve it."

A veteran of six films and extensive work on television, including recurring roles on "Dallas" and "Another World," the 27-year-old actor will be seen during the coming year in three films ("Johnny Suede," "The Favor" and "Cool World"). He is currently in Montana for the filming of "A River Runs Through It," an adaptation of Norman Maclean's story of two brothers growing up in Montana in the 1920's. Produced and directed by Robert Redford from a screenplay by Richard Friedenberg, the movie also stars Tom Skeritt, Craig Sheffer and Emily Lloyd.

Things are moving fast for Mr. Pitt, who finds himself working for the man who starred in the first film he remembers seeing. "I loved 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' when I was little and have a clear memory of my parents taking me to a drive-in to see it when I was 6 years old," he says.

The eldest of three children, Mr. Pitt was born in Oklahoma and raised in Springfield, Mo. His father owned a trucking company, but Mr. Pitt says the family business never held much allure for him. Enrolling at the University of Missouri as a journalism major, he quit school two credits short of his degree in 1987 and moved to Los Angeles.

"I left Missouri intending to pursue acting," he says, "but told my parents I was going into graphic design so they wouldn't worry. When I arrived in L.A., I had no contacts at all, but I set myself a goal of getting an acting job before a year passed. I started taking classes, and after I'd been there seven months I got a job on television." The role of J. D. fell into his lap in 1989 when Billy Baldwin, the actor originally cast in the part, bowed out to be in "Backdraft."

When not on the set or at the lessons in fly fishing and dialect called for by the script of the film he's working on now, Mr. Pitt spends his time reading (he is in the middle of Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood"), exploring with his coon hound and redecorating his apartment. "I have a small apartment here with a really mushy bed," he says, "so one night I set up my tent in the apartment and slept in the floor. It was much more comfortable, so I had them take the bed out."

After "A River Runs Through It" is completed, Mr. Pitt hopes to move to northern California. He also plans to do what he can to secure financingfor a film biography of the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, to be directed by Ralph Bakshi. "I want to play Chet Baker because I love his music and because I'm fascinated by characters like him," Mr. Pitt says. "People who have so much, yet somehow just can't get it together are very mysterious and compelling to me."