Opinion

Thursday 20 June 2019

Sad Brad still the good guy despite his big boozy temper

Brad Pitt's admission that his heavy drinking broke his marriage to Angelina has done him no harm, writes Sarah Caden

GOOD, BRAD AND THE BUBBLY: Brad Pitt Picture: Reuters
GOOD, BRAD AND THE BUBBLY: Brad Pitt Picture: Reuters

Sarah Caden

Apparently, Brad Pitt gave Angelina Jolie the "heads up" that he was doing the soul-baring interview that appeared in the US GQ Style last week. "He's committed to having a healthy relationship with..." the mother of his six children, it was reported.

On the one hand, this seems like he did the decent thing in warning her. It was also nice of Brad to explain, in this interview, how he didn't just play a part in the split; but that he was the problem. It was his boozing that broke the marriage, he said. Brad took full blame and thus earned the brownie points that come of being a mea culpa decent bloke, despite the admission of less-than-decent behaviour.

Just the cover of GQ Style says it all. There's Brad, thinner than he was in happier times, a little bit grey around the hair and the stubble, a slightly hangdog expression. His baby-blue eyes have a sort of troubles-I've-seen wistful look. It's winsome and the only problem with it all is the nagging feeling that Brad knows well how winsome it is.

The major bombshell of last week's Brad Pitt interview was his admission that his drinking destroyed his marriage to Angelina Jolie. "I was boozing too much," Brad said. "It just became a problem. And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again." So Brad has been off the drink since late last year, swapping alcohol for cranberry juice and fizzy water.

"I can't remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn't boozing or had a spliff, or something," Brad continued. "I mean, I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know - things I wasn't dealing with."

Brad said that he could "drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good." He also talked about his newfound love of therapy, how he discovered that he is an "emotional retard" and how the six months since splitting with Angelina have been "weird".

Significantly, in terms of the split, Brad said that his downfall was "self-inflicted".

"I hit the lottery," he said, "and I still would waste my time on those hollow pursuits". The hollow pursuits, in question, appear to have been the clinging on to perceived slights and injuries, though Brad is vague on whether he means personal, professional or even political issues. He gave up the spliffs, he says, once he had children, but the drink was always an exercise in running away from his feelings, and this cheated the children.

It all sounds very honest, open and decent of Brad. But somehow there are details to it that feel a bit carefully constructed, as if it's a baring of his soul that is designed to demonstrate what a great guy he is, and not what a heel.

There's the stuff about how he felt so awful staying in the family home that he chose instead to sleep on the floor of the Santa Monica "little bungalow" of his friend, director David Fincher. Really? David Fincher doesn't have a spare bedroom? Or even a sofa? Or a blow-up bed, surely? Also, Brad is training to be a sculptor as a way of clearing his head. This may well be true and I may well be hopelessly cynical, but that sort of smacks of fishing around for a pursuit that screams sensitive, reformed bad boy. As does the photo shoot that accompanied the interview, for which Brad has been mightily lampooned in the days since its publication.

There has been much mocking of the shots taken in various national parks, some where he's falling like a man who has been shot. Which is in keeping with the general tone of the images. In one, just to hammer home the point, his eyes are full to the brim with tears. This is sad Brad. And so, while he's saying, "I've been bad," this is outweighed by his atonement.

When she was given the heads-up about GQ, Angelina no doubt appreciated the fact that Brad wasn't planning on slinging any mud. However, she must have been aware that a self-flagellating interview would win Brad popularity points. And they live in a world where popularity matters. Brad is the man who was still somehow the pitied party in their split, despite the initial involvement of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services, who investigated an alleged incident with eldest son Maddox on a private jet. Pitt was exonerated, but it remained that Jolie cited the health of her family in her reasons for wanting a divorce.

Brad shouldn't have seemed the injured party back then; but he was perceived thus, and GQ only bolsters that. Angelina's reaction to GQ, said by a source to be admiring of Brad's courage and honesty, is prudently magnanimous. You can't win against those weeping baby blues - so it's best to just keep smiling.

Sunday Independent

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