Brad Pitt knows how to make the most out of an uncomfortable situation.
On the most recent episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, the actor, 56, and Leonardo DiCaprio sat down to talk about their storied Hollywood careers with host Marc Maron. For Pitt, one memory involved the Venice Film Festival world premiere of 1999’s Fight Club, his eventual cult classic that received mixed reactions upon its release.
“For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to smoke a joint before,” Pitt said, referring to his 35-year-old self and costar Edward Norton.
Pitt recalled being sat next to the festival’s director for the formal screening. When the provocative film’s lines weren’t landing, the stoned actors couldn’t help but laugh.
“The movie starts, first joke comes up, and it’s crickets; it’s dead silence. Another joke, and it’s just dead silent … this thing is just not translating at all,” Pitt said. “The more it happened, the funnier it got to Edward and I. So we just start laughing.”
He added: “We’re the a—holes in the back laughing at our own jokes. The only ones laughing.”
One moment in the film prompted a displeased audience member to leave the screening, which proved ultimately humorous to Norton and Pitt, who said that the two “had a good time.”
“At some point it gets to Helena Bonham Carter’s line when she says, ‘I haven’t been f—ed like that since grade school,’ and I watched the festival guy who had been squirming the whole time get up and leave,” said Pitt. “He doesn’t say a word, he just gets up and leaves, which makes us laugh even more.”
The initial negative reception to the David Fincher–directed film came as a surprise at the time to Pitt, who won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor on Sunday for his performance in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.
“The movie ended, the lights flick on, I look at people,” he remembered. “They just slowly get up from their seats and no one is talking and they kind of disappear from the screening.”
He added: “I remember looking at Fincher and being like, ‘Oh my God, what the f— did we do? What happened?’ I thought that s— was great.”
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“In the ’90s, all that attention really threw me,” he said. “It was really uncomfortable for me, the cacophony of expectations and judgments. I really became a bit of a hermit and just bonged myself into oblivion.”
Now sober, Pitt said he eventually learned how to tune out the outside noise and expectations.
“Those dubious thoughts, the mind chatter, the rat in the skull — that’s comedy,” Pitt said. “It’s just ridiculous that we would beat ourselves up that way. It doesn’t matter. I spent too much of life wrestling with those thoughts, or being tethered to those thoughts, or caged by those thoughts.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.