Brad Pitt on beating alcoholism and becoming a better dad
Rebuilding himself after his high-profile divorce from Angelina Jolie
The last six months have fundamentally changed Brad Pitt, the actor tells GQ Style in his first big interview since news broke of his and Angelina Jolie’s bombshell divorce last September. “For me, this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street,” he said. Pitt quit drinking (“I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something… I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem.”) and started seeing a therapist.
Jolie has physical custody of the kids, and initially, the couple agreed to a plan proposed by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services that allowed Pitt regular visits with his six children, supervised by a therapist (Jolie’s lawyer said in January that he had been seeing them once a week since October). The couple announced on Jan. 10 that they would be keeping further developments on their divorce sealed out of the press. Now, in May, they’re very much in the middle of the settlement process, with Pitt and Jolie working on the visitation arrangement.
Initially, it was hard to deal with the restrictions, Pitt said. “I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. And you know, after that, we’ve been able to work together to sort this out. We’re both doing our best.” He and Jolie are avoiding a court battle, Pitt added. “I heard one lawyer say, ‘No one wins in court—it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.’ And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees. It’s just very, very jarring for the kids, to suddenly have their family ripped apart. If anyone can make sense of it, we have to with great care and delicacy, building everything around that.”
Angelina Jolie filed for divorce two years after the couple tied the knot
When it comes to explaining the divorce to the kids, it’s complicated. “Well, there’s a lot to tell them because there’s understanding the future, there’s understanding the immediate moment and why we’re at this point, and then it brings up a lot of issues from the past that we haven’t talked about,” Pitt said. “So our focus is that everyone comes out stronger and better people—there is no other outcome.”
Pitt is trying to improve as a father and be more emotionally open. “I come from a place where, you know, it’s strength if we get a bruise or cut or ailment we don’t discuss it, we just deal with it,” he explained. “We just go on. The downside of that is it’s the same with our emotion. I’m personally very retarded when it comes to taking inventory of my emotions. I’m much better at covering up. I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality—the father is all-powerful, super strong—instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it.”
The kids are his first priority. “[I put] family first. People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets—that seems to be the menu. I say that as someone who’s let the work take me away. Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I’m not hearing. I want to be better at that.”
With healing from his divorce generally, “the first urge is to cling on,” Pitt explained. “And then you’ve got a cliché: ‘If you love someone, set them free.’ Now I know what it means, by feeling it. It means to love without ownership. It means expecting nothing in return. But it sounds good written. It sounds good when Sting sings it. It doesn’t mean fuck-all to me until, you know, until you live it.”
From: Elle US