He’s been called “The Next Big Thing,” “Hollywood’s Hottest Hunk,” and of course, “The Sexiest Guy In The World”…but how does this Missouri boy view all this hoopla? Check out the things that Brad holds near and dear.

On his move to L.A. to become an actor:

“It’s a cliché. Everyone has had to do silly little jobs. I remember when I first got to L.A., I read about Michael J. Fox and how he had to answer a pay phone because he didn’t have a phone of his own. I mean, everyone’s been through this. What’s interesting to me now is that a kid who had never been farther west than Witchita, Kansas, loaded up his car until he couldn’t even see behind him and drove to that crazy city. I remember going to the Grand Canyon. I took a photo of myself at the Grand Canyon, I was thrilled by the whole journey. Then I got into L.A., and there was so much smog, and I realized that I didn’t know anyone. And I was like, God, this is kinda depressing. So I got a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a large fries. And I got the newspaper and looked for work as an extra. The first couple of nights, I had to crash in the car.”

On his sex symbol image:

“Another sex symbol? How boring. That’s just what the world needs. Somebody who symbolizes sex.”

On acting:

“Acting’s what you make it: It can be limo rides and [phony stuff], or it can be this real exploration of yourself. That’s the reason I left Missouri and why acting fit. That’s a little grand, but I really believe that.”

On happiness:

“I think happiness is everyone’s priority in life whether they’re conscious of it or not. There’s just people out there who get hung up on it. I’ve found that the bad times are more important because they kick your butt. I guess it’s more about understanding that happiness. And what’s really sad is that it seems to me that a lot of what a person thinks of himself, unfortunately. Comes from what other people think. I think that’s why so many actors get whacked out.”

On being considered too intense:

“At times I can get manic, but I definitely have to relax. Relax is my favorite word. It’s my dog Deacon’s command to sit.”

On his age:

“I’d prefer not to have my age printed, It’s not a vanity thing. I just don’t think people should know certain things because it’ll go against my characters.”

On his growing up years:

“Growing up I was like an insider—inside of everything, like the cool stuff at school—but always looking out. Because it wasn’t quite enough or something. Insider looking out—that’s perfect. That sums it all up.”

On Tom Cruise, his co-star in Interview with the Vampire:

“I like the guy, I honestly like the guy. But at a point I started really resenting him. In retrospect I realize that was completely because of who our characters were. I realize that it was my problem. People take everything so seriously. It’s a movie and it’s done.”

On River Phoenix death:

“I knew River a little, but I wanted to know him more. His death affected everyone on the movie [River was to have the Christian Slater role in Interview with the Vampire], but at the same time it was real personal. You gotta realize, River did a role in My Own Private Idaho that took it to a level that none of these other young guys have gotten to yet. I was really looking forward to him being on the set. It just seems like when we lost him, we all lost something special.”

On being compared to legendary actor James Dean:

“I don’t know why you’d want to pattern your life after someone who’s not a survivor.”

On his personal role models:

“I know very few men to look up to…That’s why I appreciate the older films, because they show a man standing up for his principles. Like [Robert] Redford. He portrayed the kind of man men wanted to be and the kind of man women wanted men to be.”

On beauty:

“When you see a person, do you just concentrate on their looks? It’s just a first impression. Then there’s someone who doesn’t catch your eye immediately, but you talk to them and they become the most beautiful thing in the world. The greatest actors aren’t what you would call beautiful sex symbols. I’ll tell you who my favorite actress is—Dianne Wiest—and you wouldn’t call her a sex symbol. Dianne Wiest is, to me, the most beautiful woman on the screen.”