Brad Pitt’s film for Netflix, War Machine, premieres later this month. Now that World War Brange has ostensibly ended, he’s back on promotion with a GQ interview, featuring 3 different covers, and several more beautiful photographs taken in 3 American national parks, The Everglades, White Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns. Reaction? Here’s a tweet I just got from a reader called Angela:

MM is the MiniVan Majority, a description I came up with back in the early days of this blog when Brad and Angelina Jolie fell in love and gossip’s biggest obsession was Team Aniston vs Team Jolie. Team Aniston appealed to the MiniVan Majority and now, over a decade later, we’ve come full circle, as Brad Pitt tries to re-engage the same demographic. And this interview, along with the pictures, is masterful public relations. It’s perfect for the Show Your Work podcast, which is why Duana texted me 5 minutes after it was posted. This is a question that Show Your Work would ask. How is the work of Brad Pitt inseparable from being Brad Pitt?

“I have so much attached to this façade.”

That’s almost an understatement. There IS so much attached to his façade. And… a lot of that façade is his face. It’s why the girls in Angela’s office are “melting”. Brad’s statement about his façade is almost rueful. No doubt, the façade, and the fame that supports it, is heavy, definitely at times suffocating. But it’s exactly this façade, and his face, that he’s also depending on to ride out the scandal that resulted from his split from Angelina Jolie. He is calling on that façade, and the “melting” that it inspires, to push this film, and to push his career beyond the Angelina years.

It is specifically that façade that affords him the luxury of being able to offer what amounts to an admission of substance abuse in this interview and it’s not going to be the major headline:

“I do remember a few spots along the road where I've become absolutely tired of myself. And this is a big one. These moments have always been a huge generator for change. And I'm quite grateful for it. But me, personally, I can't remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn't boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something. And you realize that a lot of it is, um—cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I'm running from feelings. I'm really, really happy to be done with all of that. I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn't dealing with. I was boozing too much. It just become a problem. And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that's part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.”

You’ll recall, in the immediate aftermath of Angelina’s divorce filing, when it was rumoured that Brad’s drinking was out of control, the counter argument to that, in his defence from his side, was to suggest that she was full of sh-t, manipulating the situation and attacking his character to get what she wanted. Ironically though, it’s that façade that gave weight to that interpretation – a façade that, ironically, she herself contributed to during their relationship. It was Angelina who told us and showed us what he was like as a father, both verbally and visually, in her own interviews and through the paparazzi.

So when Brad says in GQ that much of his troubles have been “self-inflicted”, it’s a revelation that gets filtered through that façade, and projected out of that face, and then alchemised into sympathy, respect, and, ultimately support. How can you not support the façade behind that face?

In his case, as is it with all true Movie Stars, Brad Pitt’s face is a full body experience. He actually doesn’t get enough credit for the way he uses his body as an extension of his face – possibly by design. This is subtle art, the unspoken witchcraft of fame and celebrity. For years I’ve written my appreciation Brad’s gait, the casual way he saunters, how his feet are never too turned out (Leonardo DiCaprio) or too turned in (Keanu Reeves). He’s also very skilled at shoulder positioning, which is why he always looks good when he’s leaning. You can see that in several shots in this GQ piece, particularly the one where he’s leaning against a tree in the Everglades, with a feather in his hand. You can see it in all of his films – the scene that comes to mind immediately to me is at the end of Oceans Eleven, when Rusty’s waiting outside the prison for Danny to come out, eating, as usual, and wearing that “Ted Nugent shirt”. Rusty pushes off from a lean as soon as he sees his partner in crime and, in spite of the fact that his clothes are obnoxious and his mouth is full of grease, he still looks cool as f-ck… because of the way he moves. There are professional models who aren’t as skilled as he is in knowing exactly how to coerce an audience with his body without them being aware of it.

That talent explodes out of this photo shoot. Note the shot of him that’s intentionally a little out of focus, and he appears to have tears in his eyes. That, right there, is the façade, reaching out to the melting girls in Angela’s office, offering them a dream. How about the one where’s lying back on a bed of branches, both hands on his chest…BITING HIS LIP? It’s not the lip that’s key here but the expression in his eyes, not sensual, not luring, but, instead, it’s uncertainty. Because you can’t serve a lip bite with too obvious of an eye lure – Brad Pitt knows that crosses into cheese. He’s chosen instead to show you that he’s unsure. And THAT is where he hooks you. Very few actors at his level do this as well as he does without seeming studied. Which means that very few understand the façade as well as he does. And when you combine that façade with the perceived generosity in this interview, sharing memories of his childhood, revealing his complicated relationship with alcohol, and the performed grace with which he’s approaching his divorce, talking about how he and his “partner” in the divorce have agreed to move forward in kindness, well of course the office has become a giant puddle. Aren’t you melting too? 

Click here read the full Brad Pitt feature at GQ and to see all the photos.