'WHAT'S the mystery?" asks the back of Brad Pitt's head in the hunkiest voice he can muster. The world waits for the Hollywood A-lister's Chanel campaign, with mouths still gawping at the premise of a male face to an iconic women's fragrance. In a series of YouTube teasers for the commercial due to be released today, Brad puzzles a prospective Chanel No 5 customer further with questions not even the object cares to ponder.
So why is Brad Pitt peddling women's perfume? The answer is fame and money. The 'Brangelina' star is fading fast as this couple settle down, prepare to swap rings and cut the cake. Did he crack under the pressure of taking advantage of his money maker while he's still got the 'it' factor. A £4.3m (€5.4m) cheque from Chanel is nothing to sneeze at.
While their gossip-friendly show-mantic relationship is losing its allure, both Brad and Angelina are falling in the sex symbol charts. At a life stage where trading on your looks starts to look a little desperate, Pitt is having his last hurrah as a desirable hunk -- and cashing in while he can.
Ageing means retirement to the majority on the rolling Hollywood roster. High-flying careers with longevity enjoyed by the likes of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are rare -- as are stars over the age of 35 who continue to enjoy their original faces.
The pressure to be forever young on female actors is well documented. Celebrity cosmetic surgery is among the top gossip topics, with young actresses such as Leighton Meester and Emily Blunt joining Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston in pray-tell columns and magazines. But Hollywood has become an equal opportunities employer applying pressure on both male and female stars.
Brad and Angelina are a unique pair of actors. They have each garnered respect for their performances but their fame is down to their looks and sex appeal. Pitt enjoyed a couple of decades in the upper echelons of the 'sexiest male' lists, but the coveted Oscar still evades him. Trading on his looks for so long means that as they fade -- and he is seen as a celebrity husband and father over a hunk -- the facts of Hollywood life will serve him a small number of options. Does he make the move to the other side of the camera like Robert Redford, or go for the nip-and-tuck to compete with the likes of up-and-comers Ryan Gosling and Zac Efron?
While he ponders his future, Brad has this odd swansong of an endorsement to fulfil. One wonders if he was hired to become the first male face of Chanel No 5 as a massive publicity stunt based on the public's (albeit waning) interest in his forthcoming wedding, or does the market really still see him as a leading man?
ACCORDING to rumour, in the ad, Pitt flirts with an unseen woman -- the big reveal being that he's just talking to a bottle of the iconic fragrance.
In a magazine editorial, as unintentionally comical as Angelina's Oscar leg-posing, the break-out star of 'Thelma & Louise' plays dress-up as legends Rudolf Valentino and Bob Marley -- dreads and all. In an effort to fight time and the Hollywood fade, Brad has made a laughing stock of himself. He has become, like many before, an embarrassing dad.
The switch from the leading man of 'Legends of the Fall' and 'Mr & Mrs Smith' to quirkier and deeper roles in 'Burn after Reading', 'Inglorious Basterds' and 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' pointed to a Pitt eager to be taken seriously and hell-bent on an Academy Award. His search for respect seems to be in a direct battle with an industry that just sees him for his physical attractiveness, as long as that lasts.
He might be too far down the 'looks' road to be seen in any other light, but this is what he signed up for. The movie industry likes to use the pigeon hole, and drain a good thing dry.
Only time, awards seasons and box office numbers will tell if Brad Pitt will succumb to Hollywood pressure, or get left on the shelf -- talking to a bottle.