These days, Brad Pitt is just as famous -- if not more so -- for being a doting dad/partner as he is for being an actor. But had he continued down the path he was on 10 years ago, he might never have become the man he is now. In fact, he might have become nothing at all.
Reflecting on his life in the June/July issue of Esquire magazine, the World War Z actor, 49, says there was a time in the not-so-distant past when he was afraid his history of hard living and drug use had ruined him for good. "For a long time I thought I did too much damage -- drug damage," he tells the mag. "I was a bit of a drifter. A guy who felt he grew up in something of a vacuum and wanted to see things, wanted to be inspired."
The problem, he says, was that he was looking for inspiration in all the wrong places. "I spent years f--king off," Pitt admits. "But then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity."
At that point -- "about a decade ago," which would have been when he was still married to ex-wife Jennifer Aniston -- he made a "conscious change" in his life. "It was an epiphany -- a decision not to squander my opportunities," he explains. "It was a feeling of, 'Get up.' Because otherwise, what's the point?"
Newly determined to be more than just a movie star, Pitt took charge of his life and his career. Both changed forever in 2005, when he starred opposite Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. After divorcing Aniston that same year, he began a relationship with Jolie. Eight years and six kids later, the two are still going strong.
"I always thought that if I wanted to do a family, I wanted to do it big," he tells Esquire of his home life. "I wanted there to be chaos in the house...There's constant chatter in our house, whether it's giggling or screaming or crying or banging. I love it. I love it. I love it. I hate it when they're gone. I hate it. Maybe it's nice to be in a hotel room for a day -- 'Oh, nice, I can finally read a paper.' But then, by the next day, I miss that cacophony, all that life."
"I haven't known life to be any happier," he says. "I'm making things. I just haven't known life to be any happier."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Brad Pitt on Drug Use: I Had "an Epiphany" During Jennifer Aniston Marriage