Brad Pitt may have had one of his most successful professional years ever with World War Z earning $550 million at the box office so far, but he’s just like the rest of us when he’s apart from his family – he misses them.
Currenly in the UK where he is completing filming on the World War II movie Fury, partner Angelina Jolie and their six children are in Australia where she is directing Unbroken, a true-life prisoner-of-war story of an Olympian.
“I get that first moment of quiet and I go, 'this is great',” he says.
“And then within 30 minutes, I miss them. I miss that crazy running back and forth and sounds in the house with someone fighting, and someone banging into a wall over here and someone calling for dad.”
He pauses, thinking aloud. “It’s crazy, but I kind of like a little chaos.”
He also worries about Jolie and the kids – sons Maddox, Pax and twin Knox and daughters Zahara, Shiloh and the other twin Vivienne.
“I worry about them all the time. That’s the emotional bond and responsibility that sweeps over you when you have a family to look after.
“I care about them more than I care about myself which I think is the real definition of love – you see past yourself and become so much more generous and giving and wanting only the best for your family.”
He credits Jolie as “a great mother” and the major contributor to the wellbeing of their kids.
“She is amazing. I’ll be tired and lie down on the sofa and she’ll keep going until late at night.”
He says her effort and energy make him feel as if he’s taking it easy so he is compelled to help out.
“I play with the boys and get them to bed. You realise that you always have the energy inside you and, as a parent, you need to have a lot of will power too.”
Pitt says his approach to being a father is shaped by his fairly conservative American Midwest upbringing, and says he has a strong sense of being a guide and mentor.
“My attitude is pretty much shaped by the way my own parents raised me and my brother and sister. I feel as if I was able to grow up with a good perspective and a good common-sense understanding of the world.
“I want to impart those same values to my children. They may have a lot of privileges, but I hope they will have a lot of respect for other people and the fact that life can be difficult at times, in the physical and economic sense.”
While he wants his children to have the same sense of security as he did, Pitt says he is different from his own father.
“When I was growing up, you weren’t encouraged to talk a lot about your problems or frustrations. You were expected to be tough-minded and rely on your own strength and determination and not complain or look to others to help you.
“There’s still a lot of that in me,” he says, “but I’ve also become more open with my feelings. I want my children to grow up to feel they can talk to me about anything and not keep things inside.”
Despite that, Pitt admits that he still has difficulty articulating and expressing himself but reports he is getting better at it.
“I guess age is wearing down my protective armour,” he laughs.
Pitt turns 50 on 18th December – something to which he’s given a lot of thought and which he says holds no fear for him.
“In a way, getting older is liberating because you have a lot more clarity about how you want to live and there are fewer doubts about everything.”
In contrast to his female counterparts, he also believes that there are more doors open to him as an actor.
“I’m less of a commodity. Audiences can accept me in a variety of guises. People see past my image and look at the work.”
He also says reaching the milestone makes him realise what he wants to do.
“As a father, I’ve become much more acutely aware of spending my time wisely and doing the things that are important to me.”
For Pitt that means acting less and producing more.
It is also likely to mean a visit to Australia for a joint birthday and Christmas celebration after he finishes filming Fury. There’s the usual intense speculation that accompanies Pitt and Jolie that it may become a triple celebration with a long-awaited wedding.
He avoids the issue but says he wants to spend more time with his family.
“Children enrich you and I want to show them and guide them and enable them to have a good life. That’s what it’s all about.
“Everything comes down to family – it defines you as a man above all else.
“My family is my real project in life.”
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Brad Pitt is currently starring in two movies screening in Australia: the much-heralded 12 Years a Slave (which he also helped finance) directed by Steve McQueen and co-starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, and Ridley Scott’s The Counsellor, again co-starring Fassbender as well as Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.
Next week: Brad Pitt tells us what he loves and hates – one of them is a big surprise!