Posted by Larry Gleeson
BRAD PITT SAYS HE NO LONGER REMEMBERS THE FIRST RULE OF FIGHT CLUB; HONORED WITH MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD AT 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 23, 2020) – Day 8 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG featured a sold-out tribute to Brad Pitt, who received the Maltin Modern Master Award for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood from Columbia Pictures and Ad Astra for New Regency.
The evening featured a one-on-one discussion between Pitt and acclaimed film critic Leonard Maltin, who returned for his 29th year to moderate the evening. The two discussed Pitt’s history as they looked back at his iconic career – first as a University of Missouri journalism student (inspired by “All the President’s Men”) who dropped out before graduation to move to Los Angeles. The tribute also featured a slew of clips from Pitt’s film accolades, including Thelma & Louise, Interview with a Vampire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club, Inglourious Basterds, Burn After Reading, 12 Years a Slave, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and others.
Highlights of the evening included:
- On turning down the role of Neo in The Matrix: “I did pass on The Matrix. I took the red pill. That’s the only one I’m naming … I wasn’t offered two or three. Only the first one. Just to clarify that. I come from a place, maybe it’s my upbringing, if I didn’t get it, then it wasn’t mine. I really believe [the role] was never mine. It’s not mine. It was someone else’s and they go and make it. I really do believe in that. If we were doing a show on the great movies I’ve passed on, we would need two nights.”
- On his familiarity with Santa Barbara: “You guys don’t know this, but I hang out here a lot. I have been in Goleta since 1999. This is home.”
- On trying to earn his SAG card by adding an unsolicited line while filming (playing the role of a waiter): “I thought, I’m going to try it, and so I went, ‘Would you like anything else?’ And I heard the first assistant director go ‘Cut! Cut! Cut!’ And he said, ‘If you pull that again, you’re out of here.’ So I didn’t get [the SAG card] then.”
- Director David Fincher – who worked with Pitt in the acclaimed films Seven, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – presented Pitt with the award, saying: “The task of acting is multi-faceted. There’s the grand overriding two-hour arch that one might call the performance. There are the subtle behavioral hints at a lifetime of backstory, often referred to as the characterization. And then, there is the moment. And that is the character at rest. A person, idling. And for me, this is the test. The ultimate challenge. No intention. No witty banter. No dramatic change of trajectory. You just roll the camera and be. And this is the gift to your film that Brad Pitt brings. Like a supple suede jacket, he form fits his characters to the overall narrative and he shows up for more than the big beats. He idles smoothly at 3,000 RPMs in the most fractal of moments. Between speeches. Between stunts. Between moments that most actors actually choose a role for…so few people in the history of movies have been good at this, that we annex them to a special tier. People like Bogart, or Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart or Paul Newman. They exist on celluloid in a way that mere mortals can’t. They have a comfort and ease that cannot be faked, or sadly, duplicated. And they are as rare as albino pandas. They are movie stars. And this is one of them.
- Upon accepting the award, Pitt said: “Wow, it’s things like this and nights like these that tell me I’m old. I’ve been around awhile and I’ve been doing this for a bit … I can’t do night shoots anymore, and I’ll gladly hand a stunt over to a stunt man. I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club. But it’s also nights like this where I get to look back and feel really, really blessed. I feel so fortunate to all the amazing people I’ve been able to work with who have taught me so much and who’ve touched my life. From editors and composers and amazing directors who have sent me on a trajectory that has meant so much to me… I feel really blessed to be here and I feel grateful for this.
The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Past recipients include Glenn Close, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.
The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes, and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.
About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes, and panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.
SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.