Since breaking out over 20 years ago in “Thelma & Louise,” Brad Pitt has been difficult to miss.
After landing his place in cinematic history as a hunky (and shirtless) criminal, Pitt’s career blossomed with starring roles in critical and box office hits alike, such as “A River Runs Through It” (1992), “Seven” (1995), and “12 Monkeys” (1995) — just to name a few. In the past two decades, Pitt has become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but his role has expanded beyond just acting. In only the past few years, he’s produced two Best Picture nominated films, “Moneyball” (2011) and “12 Years a Slave” (2013). This fall, he’s back in front of the camera leading his battle-hardened platoon into Nazi Germany in “Fury.”
From his early days in Missouri to his unlikely romances, here are 35 things you probably don’t know about Brad Pitt.
1. Brad Pitt was born December 18, 1963 in Shawnee, Oklahoma to Jane Hillhouse and William Pitt.
2. His mother was a school counselor, while his father ran a trucking company.
3. Pitt has two younger siblings, Douglas and Julie, each three years apart.
4. Douglas Pitt is a successful businessman and philanthropist, who became the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Republic of Tanzania in 2010.
5. Pitt and his siblings were raised in a strong Southern Baptist household, but he admits he isn’t particularly religious and “oscillate[s] between agnosticism and atheism.”
6. Although he was born in Oklahoma, Pitt was raised in Springfield, Missouri, which he described on “Inside the Actors Studio” as “Mark Twain country, Jesse James country.” He has the guns to prove it!
7. “I got my grandfather’s shotgun when I was in kindergarten.” Pitt has been a gun owner since the age of 6 and fired his first handgun when he was 8. The actor acknowledged that it’s simply a rite of passage to inherit your ancestors’ guns in Missouri.
8. In school, he was also a member of the tennis, golf, and swimming teams and participated in school debates and musicals.
9. After high school, he enrolled in the University of Missouri as a journalism major, but felt unsatisfied as graduation approached.
10. With only two weeks before earning his degree, Pitt packed up and headed to Los Angeles to cut his teeth as an actor.
11. To support himself while he auditioned, the future star worked for El Pollo Loco in Hollywood. His job required that he wear a chicken suit and dance around to attract customers to the restaurant. Really.
12. In 1987, Pitt made his film debut in “Hunk” in an uncredited role.
13. Later that year, he appeared in “Less Than Zero,” starring Robert Downey Jr. Pitt played a “partygoer” and his role, yet again, was uncredited.
14. After having a small recurring role on the hit show “Dallas,” Pitt also appeared in a 1988 episode of “21 Jump Street.”
15. The actor’s big break came a few years later in “Thelma & Louise” (1991) as the hunky — and occasionally shirtless — small-time criminal, J.D.
16. Although the role seems tailor-made for Pitt, he actually was the producer’s third choice to play J.D. Who was the top candidate? William Baldwin.
17. He almost played another famous “J.D.” A few years prior, Pitt auditioned for the lead role of J.D. in “Heathers” (1988). The role eventually went to Christian Slater, after Pitt was deemed “too sweet” for the part.
18. The attention from “Thelma & Louise” led to Robert Redford casting the young actor as a co-lead in his period drama “A River Runs Through It” (1992). The part was a career-making performance for Pitt and proved he could carry his own.
19. After “A River Runs Through It,” the starring roles began piling up, most notably as a vampire in “Interview with the Vampire” (1994) and a detective in David Fincher’s “Seven” (1995).
20. He broke his arm while filming “Seven” and the injury was subsequently written into the script.
21. Although the lead roles were rolling in, it was a supporting role in Terry Gilliam‘s “12 Monkeys” (1995) that earned Pitt his first Oscar nomination. The actor earned rave reviews for his performance as a crazed mental patient with fanatical animal rights views.
22. Unfortunately, Pitt did not receive the Oscar, losing out to Kevin Spacey for “The Usual Suspects” — but he’s been nominated twice for Best Actor since then, for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) and “Moneyball” (2011).
23. He’s also won a Best Picture Oscar as a producer of “12 Years a Slave” (2013). “12” seems to be Pitt’s lucky number.
24. Pitt has also been included on dozens of “Hot Lists” since his career began, earning People’s coveted Sexiest Man Alive title in 1995 and 2000.
25. The titles probably didn’t hurt the actor’s chances of snagging several beautiful and high-profile actresses. Pitt dated Gwyneth Paltrow from 1994 to 1997, and the pair were even briefly engaged.
27. In 1999, Pitt also attracted the unwanted attention of a 19-year-old fan who broke into the actor’s Hollywood home, dressed in his clothes, and stayed for 10 hours before being apprehended.
28. After Paltrow and Pitt split, the actor met “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston. The pairing of America’s heartthrob and its new sweetheart drew significant tabloid attention and the two were married in Malibu, California in 2000.
29. By the way, Aniston and Pitt met on a blind date arranged by their agents.
30. The romance was too good to be true, however, and the couple separated just five years later. Pitt’s subsequent involvement with Angelina Jolie created a media frenzy.
31. During the production of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2005), sparks flew between Pitt and co-star Jolie, and while he’s acknowledged he fell in love on set, they were reportedly not romantically involved until after Aniston’s and Pitt’s divorce.
32. Jolie and Pitt announced their engagement in 2012 and were married in a private ceremony at their residence, Château Miraval, in August, 2014.
33. Jolie and Pitt have six children together. The three oldest are adopted, while the three youngest are the couple’s biological children.
34. The actor is banned from entering China after starring in “Seven Years in Tibet” (1997), which depicts China’s controversial takeover of Tibet.
35. Pitt admires architecture to such a degree that he did an informal apprenticeship at the office of renowned architect Frank Gehry. In 2001, Gehry also renovated the wine cellar in Pitt’s and Aniston’s Los Angeles home.