Twice declared People magazine’s “sexiest man alive,” Brad Pitt might be an expert in American ideals of masculinity.
But masculinity was still a theme the movie star was eager to discuss when he spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about fathers, sons and confronting Harvey Weinstein, ahead of the release of his latest movie, the sci-fi thriller “Ad Astra.”
The film, directed by James Gray and also starring Tommy Lee Jones and Liv Tyler, tells the story of astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt), who is searching for his missing father. In his quest he uncovers secrets that could destroy the universe.
Speaking about parental relationships, Pitt, 55, said: “My individual experience is somewhat universal, in the fact that you know our parents, our universe, our gods, our first imprint on on how to behave, react, feel in the world.
“And with that, to different degrees, some of us more than others, carry pain and confusion from that. I think it almost takes a lifetime to understand what was yours, and what was theirs,” he told Amanpour.
“My dad always said he wanted to give me a better life than he had coming from extreme poverty, and he did it. And it makes me think, as a dad, what do I have to offer that’s better than I had, to my kids?” he added.
The film explores themes of father-son relationships, masculinity and vulnerability and loneliness – a topic Pitt was eager to address in his work.
“We’ve all experienced loss, we’ve all experienced great loneliness at times. And we’re good at packing that away and not dealing with it. Some of us are really good at it, at getting through it and coming out the other side as a more well rounded, I think more confident, more loving human being,” he said.
Pitt has been candid about his divorce and his struggles with sobriety. In September 2016, his wife, Angelina Jolie, filed for divorce after two years of marriage and more than 10 years as a couple, and in 2017, the actor spoke to GQ about quitting drinking, admitting he was “boozing too much.”
Speaking about his divorce and relationship with alcohol, Pitt told Amanpour: “What I realized is that I was running to avoid tough feelings, painful feelings.”
“I just didn’t know how to deal with them. Anything I found that I used for escape,” Pitt said. “Those kinds of em… those kinds of difficult feelings, I don’t know how better to describe it. It can be anything, drugs, booze, Netflix, snacks. Anything. I don’t want at this point to be running from anything,” he said.
“I want to sit in it, I want to feel it, I want to get through the rough night. I found in doing so, you come out the other side with a more profound understanding, of yourself and a greater gratefulness of those in your life. And the birds and the trees and everything else.”
The actor also spoke about an encounter with Harvey Weinstein. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whom Pitt dated in the 1990s, was among the main sources for The New York Times reporting that broke open the scandal surrounding the accused movie producer, who has since pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual assault charges.
The actress told the publication that before they began filming “Emma,” Weinstein asked her to come to a meeting with him at his suite at a Beverly Hills hotel. The NYT reported that Paltrow said the meeting “ended with Mr. Weinstein placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages.”
Paltrow went on to say that she refused Weinstein’s alleged advances, immediately left, and told her then-boyfriend Pitt what had happened.
Pitt, she said, confronted the producer.
Asked by Amanpour about challenging a man whom few people were willing to cross, Pitt said: “At that moment, I was just a boy from the Ozarks on the playground.. and that’s.. and that’s how we confronted with things.”
“I just wanted to make sure nothing was going to happen further, because she (Paltrow) was going to do two films. I think the interesting thing is that we, Hollywood specifically, but the workplace, men and women’s dynamics is being recalibrated, recalibrated in a very good way that is long overdue. And I do think that’s an important story to tell.”
CNN’s Lisa Respers France, Sandra Gonzalez and Chloe Melas contributed to this article.