What’s Brad Pitt Eating?

What’s Brad Pitt Eating?

The Washington Post and the New Zealand Herald both featured some of my fun discussion with reporter Emily Heil in her article “Brad Pitt is the ‘Laurence Olivier of eating’ on screen. Here’s why we like to watch.” Enjoy!

…Caroline Liem, a casting director and professor at Pace Performing Arts, says one reason might be that Pitt is just really, really good at on-screen eating. “He’s the Laurence Olivier of eating!” she says.

Even talented actors sometimes screw up what seems like a simple task, she says. They might take bites that are too big. Or tiny bites — a dead giveaway that they’re dealing with multiple takes. But Pitt? “He makes it look like an actual human being eating, and you don’t get that a lot,” Liem says. “He’s just one with food.”

Some of Pitt’s eating is central to a scene. Think of him in “Interview With the Vampire,” in which his brooding undead Louis is trying to kick the habit of human blood and instead chomps into rats. Or in “Meet Joe Black,” when his titular character — who is death itself inhabiting a human body — eats peanut butter for the first time.

Other times, eating has been a way to subtly express something about his character. As Rusty Ryan in the Ocean’s franchise, he’s forever snacking. Pitt has described in interviews why that was — Rusty’s a con man and always on the move, he said, so he figured he wouldn’t have time for a proper sit-down meal. And in 2011, he told NPR’s Terry Gross that his “Moneyball” character’s snacking was a way of showing his intensity and “need to accomplish something.”

Liem says actors can use food to develop their characters in ways that might not even be called for in a script. “As a casting director, I know that an actor knows the character inside and out — better than anyone else on set — and so if the actor says the character needs a sandwich, he needs a sandwich,” she says.

Read the full Washington Post article. New Zealand Herald article.

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