Brad Pitt it seems, can play anything. Currently on a closed set at Pinewood Studios filming Interview with the Vampire, Pitt also appears in this month’s Kalifornia as an unkempt serial killer with a seriously wacko sense of humor. The day before he left for London and Interview, Roald Rynning talked to him in California.

In Kalifornia, your character Early Grayce, a bearded unwashed psycho, is pretty gross. Is that what attracted you to the part?

Yeah [laughs]. I’m basically a guy who finds farts funny and things like that. My character’s a redneck. A real backwoods hillbilly, you know. He’s a guy with no morality. An idiot. He kills people as if they’re bugs. He hasn’t had many options, so he’s created his own ideas about right and wrong, and they’re a bit off from what other people think. He creates things in his life for excitement, and one of those things happens to be murder.

Are people starting to get bored of serial killer movies?

There’s definitely an onslaught of nihilistic films coming out right now and we’re gonna get burnt out on them, just like we’re gonna get burnt on Westerns, and then we’ll go on to something different. That’s why I picked Legends of the Fall and Interview with the Vampire as my next projects. In both films I play characters who care very much. Having said that, the violence in Kalifornia is fine for me because it’s like a little boy’s daydream. Movies are make-believe.

Do you think you’ll still feel the same way when you have your own kids?

I would like to think that I’d let them make mistakes and let them see the things they wanted to. I would like them to have all kinds of information early on. Then they’ll figure it out. When I think of all the things I’ve done and how many times I’ve done something stupid…Of course, this is all theory now. I might have kids and say, “Lock the door, you’re staying in!”

What was it like working with Juliette Lewis on Kalifornia after you two had split up?

Juliette is the best. She’s probably the best actor I’ve ever seen. She has this ability to just pick up a script, see it and do it.

What’s the state of your relationship with Juliette right at the moment?

We had one for about three years, then we didn’t have one. She was living with me, now she doesn’t. She lives four houses away. We still hang out. I see her a lot, but it’s hard with two actors together. We had a great time together and maybe one day, who knows? When we’re hanging out, we’re not doing romantic things. We’re just at home on the couch with the remote control.

Many people were horrified that Tom Cruise was cast in Interview. How about you?



Just remind everybody that it’s just a movie. I mean, I can understand why the author, Anne Rice, is against the casting. She has created a book with all these characters and sees it one way. That’s all fine, but she sold her book and she ought to know that when a movie is made from a book, it takes its own form. The film’s never going to match the book.

She said in a recent interview that you would be better cast playing Lestat, Tom Cruise’s part?

We talked about Lestat but I wanted to do Louis. I’ve done these characters who don’t care very much, this big wave of nihilism, so I want to come back as a guy who cares very much. The only problem is, they put fangs on me and now I lisp. I’m going to have to do something about that or I’m going to be a lisping vampire.

So, how is Tom?

tell you, he’s great. We’re having a good time and he’ll surprise people with his performance. He’s going at it hard. He’s changed the look and everything. I’m not going to give anything more away. If you want more information, you’ll have to knock on his door.

Well, at least he’s got the right teeth for the part.

He’s sure has got big teeth [laughs]-and he’s got even bigger ones now because he’s wearing fangs.

Doesn’t the book feature some homoerotic necking between Louis and Lestat?

Yeah [laughs], I don’t know, it’s not so blatant but there’s no way around it-it’s got to be there. You’ve got one guy biting another guy’s neck but you don’t have it flashing up homoerotic. You have to follow vampire logic-once you’re a vampire, male and female doesn’t matter.

Were you one of those precocious kiddies who had a burning ambition to be an actor?

No [laughs], it was to go to college, get a gal, get a house with a white picket fence…

What went wrong?

A lot of movies. I used to think, “If I’d been born in California I’d have a shot at it.” Then I realized that I could go there. It was very simple. I’d never done any plays in college, so I thought I’d move into art direction because I have a good eye. You’ve got to go for the opportunity.

So what dodgy jobs did you do in LA?

Well, I had one taking strippers to do stripper-grams. I had to drive them there, make sure they got the money, and then drive them back. I did that for a couple of months, until one day I drove this girl who said she knew an actor who studied with Roy London [a well-respected acting coach who died recently], which turned out to be kind of a blessing. I was in Roy’s class of about 10 or 12 people for a year, and one day this woman had an audition and needed someone to do a scene with. I remember making a point not to try too hard, so I didn’t shower or anything. I just got up, put on a T-shirt and some jeans. They probably said, “I like the guy but he kind of smells.” When I first got here there were all those ads in the LA Times-‘be a star’ and all that shit, which I’m opposed to. I had $325 when I arrived and there were ads for extra work that involved paying $25 to get you hooked up. I did Less Than Zero and I did that Charlie Sheen movie about stealing cars, No Man’s Land. It just goes in stages. I was sitting there doing this and I was watching and watching. Then I got an agent and started auditioning. I screwed up all the auditions royally then got a part on a little TV show.

What was your first break?

A TV show called Glory Days. It was cancelled after a brief run and I was relieved because I knew they were grooming me to be this teen idol. I didn’t want to be like the guys in Beverly Hills 90210. Heartthrobs are a dime a dozen

So you don’t have any proper acting training?

No, but I think I need some. A little bit. But I don’t want to go overboard where I’d start having nervous breakdowns and stuff like that

What, so no Daniel Day-Lewis lovey-style research before a movie?

No, I don’t do a lot of research. I remember reading about this actor who was going to play a kid who worked in a bowling alley in a movie, so he worked a bowling alley for two months before the shoot. I’m opposite of that. For Kalifornia I started reading a book, one of those trashy novels about somebody who’d supposedly killed over 300 people. I got to about page 23 and felt I’d got the idea. Everything’s relative, I guess, that’s what I’m saying. I’m just glad I didn’t have to take a job in a bowling alley, ‘cause that’s a pretty crummy job.

Do you find you start to get wrapped up in the character you’re playing during filming?

Not really, but sometimes I have weird dreams. When I was making Kalifornia I was dreaming about fake blood, rubber knifes and fake guns.

What kind of person do you play in Legends of the Fall [due out later this year and co-starring Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn]?

Another fuck-up again. I guess. It’s based on Jim Harrison’s novella about a tough English colonel and his three sons who leave the ranch in Montana to do battle in the First World War. It’s kind of an epic Western, except that it takes place in the East instead of the West. You still have guns and horses but the people are a little more proper. It was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. The hours were long and it seemed like we had someone dying or crying every other day.

How good an actor are you?

I’m a good actor, not a great actor.

Do you have the clout to get a film made?

Almost, but I need help.

Do you have brothers and sister?

Yeah, I have a younger sister, Julie, and a younger brother, Doug, both married back home in Missouri and having kids as fast as my pet chameleons. I’m crazy about my family so I love spending time there. I’m a bit of a nature freak, and you can get lost in nature there.

And a TV freak, right?

Yep. My buddies kind of abuse me because I don’t leave the house much, I like the nature shows best. I like really bad TV.

What do your family think of your fame?

Well, they think it’s all pretty funny. They’re good people, they’re just really straight and honest people. The other day I called my grandfather and asked how he was doing. He said, “We just saw your movie,” I said, “Which one>” and he said, “Betty, what was the name of that movie we were just watching?” There something about Southern or mid-Western people. They’re very polite, they don’t want anyone to be ill at ease, whereas I’m really mean and nasty [growls]. I think I was a little nicer when I first got to Los Angeles. You actually lose out.

So LA turns people nasty?

LA’s all right, but there are better places to love, that’s for sure. I go back to Missouri quite a bit. I bought some property there for my family. It’s beautiful land, but at the moment LA’s fine.

You’re not part of the Hollywood Harley Davidson posse, then?

Nah. Behind that big metal Harley there’s a lot of loss. It all goes back to the cock salesman telling you what you need to be a man. What you really need to be a man is high standards; you need to stand up for your principles.

Do you still have a dog?

No. When I was doing my last movie my friend lost my dog. It was stolen or something. I’m breeding chameleons now. I’ve got 24 of them from Madagascar. I want them to live in a tree, but I have to invent a cage because once in while I’ll find one of them cruising on the TV set. I also have cats…well, I don’t have cats but I’m looking after a friend’s two cats, and of them shits in the plants. It’s just a little bitty cat and it smells so bad. Unbelievable, I’m just glad they don’t piss on my bed.

Is it true you’re a rock-star wannabe?

Yeah. I take it seriously but I suck. I would be a musician if I could but, oh my God, it would probably turn out like Don Johnson or something. You know those neighbors who play loud screeching guitar and you have to shout at them to turn it down? That’s me.

You’re that bad?

Yeah. I write really bad songs. I don’t know what else you could call them. I still hope to play Chet Baker in a movie one day, because I love his music and I’m fascinated by characters like him. People who have so much, yet somehow they just can’t get it together. They’re very mysterious and compelling to me. I think there’s something positive and uplifting in Chet’s playing, and I’d like to explore why he let people down.

Have you always been a babe-magnet?

I guess you can say that I’ve been very comfortable with the fact that girls fall for me. But I have questioned why more doors open for some people and not for others.

So you’re quite happy to be tagged as a studly sex-symbol?

Why would that bother me? It’s great. You know, it really doesn’t matter too much. People have this other perception of me, and all that kind of stuff that goes with it. But then other people just say, “You’re a dead ringer for that guy Brad Pitt.” One time I was at university and they did this cheesy calendar on campus. I was a freshman then and they had a little party for all the people who were featured on it. I arrived and said, “I’m supposed to check in, I’m Brad Pitt.” And her face fell. She just went, “Oh…” She obviously has [had] some vision of me as being this six-foot-four Italian guy. She just couldn’t believe it.

How does fame feel?

I don’t feel famous. It’s work and you’re still stuck with yourself. What’s different is that how I have National Enquirer camped outside my house every time a couple gets divorced and I’m supposed to be involved. I’ve even had people in my trash.

Roll on that plane to Europe…

Yeah. I love Europe. I hung out in Yugoslavia for four months and I hung out in the Netherlands for two months. I just rented apartments and bought myself a bicycle. Actually I think I bought myself a stolen one. It was such a good deal and the guy was pretty quick about it.

Where else do you want to go?

Barcelona. I want to study some Gaudi. I’m interested in architecture. That’s what I originally went to college for. I didn’t continue because it was too heavy a course. Most of all, thought, I want to go to Madagascar and camp out there for a while. I want to see where all my chameleons are coming from.