The craze over his big brother gives Doug Pitt a feel for stardom.

The black plastic letters on the marquee sign read: “I MET JOE BLACK.”

Not only has the author of the message met Black, he also lived and grew up with him.

He’s Joe Black’s brother.

In the real world, Joe Black’s brother is better known as Doug Pitt, younger brother of actor Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt will join his family in Springfield Thursday for the local premiere of his new movie, “Meet Joe Black.”

“These kind of things are fun,” Doug says about the hoopla that comes with being Brad Pitt’s brother.

“That’s the biggest perk. We get to travel and meet a lot of people and do some things we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

Like head off to Los Angeles or New York for a movie premiere. Or meet Harrison Ford, as their parents, Bill and Jane Pitt, did a few years ago.

Or have breakfast like Doug did on the set of “Legends of the Fall” with renowned actor Anthony Hopkins, who teams up again with Brad in “Meet Joe Black.”

“(Hopkins) is just a regular guy, too. It’s refreshing to see guys of that caliber be so one-on-one, looking to carry on a conversation and interested in your response as opposed to some up-and-comers who tend to think the mode is to be elusive and a prima donna.”

Doing brother stuff

When Brad comes home three or four times a year, the brothers spend time doing “normal brother stuff,” like taking photographs.

“He’s a hack (photographer) like me. We’re outdoor guys and we’ve got some land where we shoot,” Doug says.

But that’s not all.

“We do the Bass Pro gig and McSalty’s. Just normal stuff. He’s as comfortable coming home as anywhere else,” Doug says.

Brad doesn’t wear a disguise when he comes home, but Doug says sometimes it’s “Brad in a hat. That’s just Brad; that’s not incognito. He wears sunglasses and a hat. It’s just him. You don’t see him at the mall.”

The pair have gone CD shopping several times at the music department at Hastings Books Music & Video.

While Brad doesn’t have a favorite group, Doug says his brother “knows his music.”

“He’s a music freak,” Doug brags. “We’ve been there a couple of times. We walk through the aisles. He gets the CDs, gives them to me and walks out to the car for me to buy them so he doesn’t have to stand in line.”

‘I’m an Ozarks guy’

Doug pooh-poohs the idea floated by some that he’s really the better-looking of the two brothers.

“Just my wife,” he says with a laugh.

But the little brother does have an engaging, shy smile and the patented dreamy Pitt eyes that float behind a pair of glasses.

Those similarities, though, belie their different lifestyle choices.

While Brad was lured to Hollywood, Doug decided to plant his roots firmly in his hometown.

Brad’s wardrobe changes daily and his love life has been on a roller coaster for many years. His latest flame is Jennifer Aniston, star of TV’s “Friends.”

Two years younger than Brad, Doug, 32, wears a suit to work at his ServiceWorld Computer Co., which services computers and sells some parts. He and Lisa, his wife of eight years, have three children.

“I’m an Ozarks guy. I want to stay here and raise my family. I love Springfield,” Doug says, adding that Brad does, too, despite rumors to the contrary.

“(Brad) looks forward to coming home.”

There was no tearful good-bye when Brad left for L.A. in the mid-1980s. In fact, the family didn’t know Brad was going West to take up acting.

“He was going to art design school in L.A., supposedly. That’s what he told mom and dad. We didn’t know he was doing movies,” Doug says.

More movie offers

While Doug denies getting the itch to follow his brother to Hollywood, he did get his own movie offers after big brother made it big.

But they weren’t the best offers.

“I call them C movies, not B movies. I’m going to create my own category here. Of course, they wanted the name, just to throw a Pitt up on the screen, whether I could act or not. Naturally, we got to about page two of reading (the scripts) and then they hit the trash. Just trashy stuff. Just cheesy roles,” he says.

There is a downside to being Brad Pitt’s brother. It has to do with the public’s perception of Doug and his role in Brad Pitt’s life.

The marquee with the Joe Black message stands in front of Doug’s business, which he’s operated for 7Ï years. That’s something his brother’s fans sometimes forget.

“People probably need to realize that I run a business here and I’m in the computer business, not the Brad Pitt management company. It’s kind of intrusive (especially when) you’re right in the middle of working with a customer,” Doug says.

With Brad coming to town, Doug has been handling up to 10 calls a day from people and organizations from as far away as the Netherlands requesting a few minutes of Brad’s time.

At least 40 groups are vying for Brad’s attention to record public service announcements or endorsements when he’s going to be in town for less than 24 hours.

Doug doesn’t mind handling a few inquiries from news agencies and he’s trying to learn how to handle the media.

“It’s a work in progress, not only for Brad but for the family. I’m probably a lot more guarded. The family really doesn’t do a lot of interviews,” he says.

“There’s definitely a defined line between discussing Brad and anything personal about him. We figure if he wants to say it, he’ll say it and he picked ‘Oprah’ to do it,” Doug says, referring to Monday’s broadcast of Brad’s first extensive TV interview. “I think the regular guy came across.”

Letting Brad speak for himself is why Doug doesn’t answer questions about his brother’s love life or reported interest in Buddhism.

He did dispel one rumor that media harassment forced his parents to move from their longtime south Springfield home where the brothers and their younger sister, Julie, grew up.

“They did move, but it wasn’t anything to do with the media. They wanted a bigger lot,” he says.

Conrad Griggs, a City Council member who is a longtime friend and neighbor of the Pitt family, says Doug used to play basketball on his homemade court.

“I can say I don’t recall the family ever having a falling out. They’re good kids. You can see why Brad is a charmer. He’s no phony,” Griggs says.

A regular guy

Doug hopes people realize his brother is a regular guy.

“He’s somebody you can sit down and talk to and he’s just as interested in the guy sitting in the back of the room as the celebrity sitting up front,” he says.

Doug saw that regular brother in action during the filming of “Legends.”

“We were eating breakfast one morning with the cast and crew and there were a lot of big names at this deal. We all get up and everybody was running off to their trailers to get ready and all of a sudden, Brad’s gone.

“He walks to the cooks’ trailer and I hear him shaking hands and thanking the cooks for breakfast. It just kind of struck me funny, not in a weird way, but I just thought, that’s pretty cool to walk in and shake the hand of the man who cooked his eggs. That’s Brad behind the scenes.”

And Doug also wants people to know that it doesn’t bother him a bit to be known as “the other Pitt, the kid brother, whatever.”

“That’s no competing with that. I wouldn’t even try,” he says.

“I’m just real proud of him.”