The director of an obscure Serbian film has talked about when she “discovered” award-winning actor Brad Pitt as a young adult looking for his big screen debut, and how she nearly got knocked out to give him his start.
Before the fame of blockbuster productions like Ocean’s Eleven and Mr and Mrs SmithA pimply but “exciting” 21-year-old Pitt responded to a casting call from the agency of Lauren Lloyd, former executive vice president of Hollywood Pictures and Trust Sony Pictures.
Lloyd described her first meeting with the young wannabe who would become a megastar on the ’80s to Aussie podcast How was it?.
“So this guy comes in and I think he may have done an episode or two on a soap opera… and I was like, who is this guy? But it was like God came in,” Lloyd told the podcast.
“So I said ‘sit down and talk to me,’ and he had some pretty bad skin…but he seemed very calm because he was so young and inexperienced.”
At 21, Pitt had minimal acting experience and wanted to enter the film industry.
Lloyd’s talent agency had agreed to scout a male lead for a Yugoslav-American co-production The dark side of the sun.
And by the time young Pitt read them the script, Lloyd and her work partner were giggling with delight at the actor they’d found.
“We were like who is he? This man is amazing,” she said.
But despite Pitt successfully charming the two talent scouts, Lloyd revealed that she almost didn’t cast him due to his lack of experience in film.
“I said ‘but he just does TV’ – because we were at the stage where the people in the movie industry looked down on television… they made the money, but we made the movies,” she said.
After her partner assured her “you’ve got a movie star!” the pair hired Pitt for his first-ever film appearance with Yugoslav directors.
“And Brad was so excited, he was like a kid,” Lloyd added.
They call it the ‘X Factor’
It is the quality that distinguishes ordinary people from ‘stars’ who become global and acclaimed artists.
And that’s exactly what Lloyd saw in Pitt the day he walked in and read his first movie script.
Much of the movie’s success, she admitted, was down to genes — being born with a face in front of the camera.
“Well (Pitt) had shaggy hair and kind of bad skin, but you’re still fascinated by it,” she said.
“He was almost too beautiful. He had very delicate features – he has grown into a much more masculine man – but he was just a very beautiful being.”
But looks don’t drive the “X-Factor,” she said, and when it came to Pitt, what made him “exciting” was his “calm” and “holistic” presence.
“(He was) so united inside — and when I say that, I mean someone so young is so comfortable in their body, to be there intellectually.” she said.
“So it’s a spiritual, intellectual and physical blend… and there he was – looking beautiful.
“So when someone like that comes into a room, you see them – but you feel them. It’s almost like every cell in your body is under voltage.”
Lloyd said Pitt was “blessed” with an “incredible combination of genes” that gave him that “movie star quality” talent agencies look for.
But pretty faces come and go, she acknowledged, and to make a long-lasting career in the Hollywood film industry, actors need to be persistent.
“If you go to Hollywood, you have to have that (self-belief), whatever you do,” she said.
“(Because) if you don’t have that drive, it’s so hard… you’re going to perish… you have to be so driven that no matter how many times you get ‘no’, you’ll find a way.
“And he did.”
This is an excerpt from the podcast What it Was Like. Click here to hear the full story of how Brad Pitt became a star.