He’s beautiful, famous and he’s got Gwyneth. Now Brad Pitt wants to be taken seriously, especially in his new movie, The Devil’s Own. Yeah right, says Sascha Reins.

JFK airport, New York, on a drab, white morning. Today I have picked the wrong queue for the Immigration Control windows. The woman official-16 stone of pure suspicion topped off with a nasty little moustache—barks out the standard question: ‘What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?’ I give her the honest answer, though I know I’m being a bit of a tease, and tell her I’m here to interview Brad Pitt. ‘You wanna start getting’ cute with me, I’m gonna letcha know all about it!’

Ouch! Fearing the worst nightmare scenario, I hand over the fax that officially confirms my movie-star rendezvous. First I get the angry stare, then amazement, then a little coo of approval. Suddenly a huge smile transforms the mustachioed moose into a trembling little schoolgirl. ‘Hey. My name is Rosalita. Listen, d’ya think when you meet him you could tell him I jut love him so much?’ I promise to pass the message on, and add er name to Julia, Sophie, Val—and even Lance and Dave—who have all entrusted me with the same mission. As I’m moving off, I tell Rosalita that I’m meeting Harrison Ford as well. ‘He don’t cut it no more, honey… Have a nice day.’

Without realizing it, Rosalita has summoned up the general lack of interest aroused by Harrison Ford’s presence in The Devil’s Own. Alan J. Pakula’s new movie. In America today, it’s Brad the people love, Brad they want, Brad they go to see. You can imagine the scene on the set of The Devil’s Own. Indeed, the two actors clashed virtually every day, accusing each other of trying to steal the other’s glory. So the script was constantly changed by the actors’ personal screenplay writers, with each of them refusing to accept the other’s changes. To cap it all, Brad—seldom backward about coming forward—made a few sensational revelations to Newsweek magazine just prior to the film’s opening in the States.

Mad and bad—that’s our Brad. I’m thinking back to Rosalita as he walks into the interview room. Dressed in a navy sweater and black jeans, this is the most beautiful man in the world. And you may as well know: the charisma you see on screen is nothing compared to the real-life Brad. The young newcomer has matured and blossomed: now we’re seeing his true talents. Whereas three years ago in interviews he would just huddle up in his chair and mumble a few words, today he talks readily and looks me straight in the eye. Ask him a question that he doesn’t like, and he lets you know so politely that you’d feel terrible if you pressed him. Even so, it would be nice to know a bit more about his private life. Now and again, the first name of his fiancée, Gwyneth Paltrow, does slip out. When it does, his face lightens up like a man who is truly in love. Sorry Rosalita.

It’s public knowledge that there were disagreements in the set of The Devil’s Own, particularly between you and Harrison Ford. Was it a clash of egos?

Egos were never a problem during filming, whatever people might have said or written. What we wanted was to make a good movie. Harrison and I discussed our scenes at length, point by point, with only one thing in mind… to make the film better.

So what were the difficulties?

The subject of the film, the civil war in Northern Ireland, is a very delicate one. We wanted to tell it as a story—and removed from that context and directed by John Ford, it could easily have been a Western—without being political or judgmental, and especially without doing wrong to the people who have to live through this turmoil every day of their lives.

Do you sympathize particularly with one side or the other?

Before we started I knew nothing about the Irish problems, and you don’t get to understand the situation just by reading a couple of books. So I went to Belfast to see what was going on. I really sympathize with these people. There is no right or wrong: it’s just people stuck in a horrible situation. Pain binds the two camps together. Both sides have their guilt and their dark histories.

You seem very much at home with guns in the movie…

Like most Americans, I’ve grown up with them. Guns are part of our culture, our way of life. It was my dad who first showed me a gun and how to take aim. He also taught me never to point a gun at anyone.

Where do you stand on the gun-control legislation that Bill Clinton is currently trying to bring in?

That’s a very complicated and political issue, and I don’t really want to express an opinion publicly.

You have a very strong Irish accent in The Devil’s Own, and in your next movie, Seven Years in Tibet, you have a German accent. Will this become something of a Brad Pitt specialty?

I’m hoping to become the Meryl Streep of my generation! [Laughs] No, in fact, that’s just the way it happened. It forces me to work really hard, because I never studied drama or acting techniques.

As an actor, what are the pros and cons of being a good-looking guy?

Well, it certainly opens doors, but if you aren’t careful they can slam shut pretty firmly behind you.

After Legends of the Fall, did you deliberately try to lose the Mr Irresistible image by doing Seven and 12 Monkeys—films where your body wasn’t part of the equation?

No, I was just looking to do something different, to avoid one type of role. I didn’t have a problem with the image.

And do you have a problem with the hysterical way in which your fans sometimes react?

If I had the choice, I’d definitely prefer to be respected rather than idolized…

You’ve often had well-documented adventures with your female c-stars. Does your fiancée get worried every time you go off to do a movie?

That’s not a problem for us at all. We’re very close and we have a strong relationship. To us, romantic scenes are just part of what we do in our profession. But it’s true that, every now and then, it foes make me feel a bit strange to see Gwyneth in some other guy’s arms.

So why not do a film together, that way she’d be in your arms…

We don’t anticipate working together in the near future. It’s terrible being separated from each other, but it just makes the reunions that much sweeter. I’m going with Gwyneth to London this summer, ‘cause she’s shooting there.

You’ll be followed by the British press…

[Sighs] There are some days when I’ve just had enough, when I think I’m not going to be able to stand it any more. But it’s part of this life, and you have to accept it. I knew what I was getting into when I started out on this career.

When you’ve got a problem, who do you turn to first?

Gwyneth. And if I can’t get a hold of her, then my family.

Have you fixed a date for the wedding?

Not yet, no.

Would you tell me if you had?

[Smiles, without replying, pulling a naughty, childlike face]…

Sailors and pilots have a girl in every town, but with you it seems to be bicycles…

[Laughs] That’s right, I love cycling. In every town I end up in, for whatever reason, I buy myself a bicycle. Then, when I leave, I lock it to a tree. Obviously, by the time I get back it’s either gone or the wheels have been stolen!

Have you got one in London?

Sure I have, only I’m not too sure where it is…