FAMILY means everything to Brad Pitt. Once famed for being the most attractive man on the planet, these days he's the A-list poster boy for family values, and the devoted dad of six is happy to admit that he's prioritising his beloved brood ahead of everything else.
In fact, it was his fiancee, Angelina Jolie, who recently stole the limelight at the UK premiere for Pitt's latest film, World War Z.
The event was 38-year-old Jolie's first red carpet appearance since revealing last month that she'd undergone a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she carried the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Her decision to go public led to an outpouring of respect and admiration for the actress – with Pitt leading the praise.
"She's doing great," the actor and producer says today. "It's business as usual and on to the next stage for us."
Asked how important Jolie's support at the premiere was, he says: "I've never not had support from her. I love her; it brings you closer and makes you stronger."
Jolie, whose mother was 56 when she died of ovarian cancer, underwent weeks of hospital appointments, invasive surgery and recovery, but the couple are feeling positive.
"It doesn't have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be empowering," says Pitt. "It's been an emotional and inspiring few months. It's such a wonderful relief to come through this and not have a spectre hanging over our heads."
Pitt's transformation from ladies' man to family man is well and truly complete.
Once engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow, he married former Friends actress Jennifer Aniston in 2000, but they split in 2005.
It was rumoured that his relationship with Jolie, whom he met on the set of Mr And Mrs Smith, caused the break-up. While allegations of adultery were denied from both camps, Pitt and Jolie later admitted they fell in love on the film.
The couple are parents to three biological children – Shiloh (7) and four-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne – and three adopted kids: Maddox (11), Pax (9) and Zahara (8).
Pitt had his kids in mind when he signed up for World War Z, he says, particularly the two older boys.
As well as starring in it, he produced it through his production company, Plan B Entertainment.
"These zombies are scary as hell," he says. "And the movie, I believe, works on numerous levels. But primarily, it's complete summer fun and something I wanted to do for my sons to enjoy."
Pitt plays former UN investigator Gerry Lane, tasked with having to save his family while trying to find, and stop, the source of the epidemic that's turning people into zombies.
"Five years ago, I knew nothing about zombies. Now, I consider myself an expert," Pitt jokes.
"Max Brook's book treats the zombie genre as a global pandemic, spreading much like we've witnessed viruses like SARS travel.
"What happens when everything we concern our days with is rendered useless? What happens when power structures and societal norms are obliterated?"
Playing someone normal, not a superhero, appealed. "Gerry can't fly, he can't beat up bad guys. He has no super-powers. He's a dad, with a burning need to keep his family safe. To do that, he can only rely on his intellect, his instincts and his experience."
He has kind words for his on-screen wife Karen, played by Mireille Enos.
"Mireille is a brilliant partner on set," he says. "She can embody the lovingness of the mother and flip to the ferociousness of the lioness protecting her young in an instant."
As for director Marc Forster, Pitt says: "He can't be pigeonholed as a director; his experience and interest in many genres and types of film is a rarity."
Pitt, who became a Hollywood heart-throb after appearing in Thelma And Louise in 1991, and later in films like Meet Joe Black and Fight Club, has received four Oscar nominations in his time, including two for 2011 drama Moneyball.
But awards don't factor in his game plan. "I don't play the Oscars game. I had a Golden Globe [for 12 Monkeys] about a decade ago, but they are never the focus," he says.
"I believe it's how you feel. You want to feel that you've given it your best at the end of the day. We all want to be really good."