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Caleb Bailey

Creature Features: 8 Vampire Movies to Watch This Halloween

brad pitt ghost movie

All sorts of things go bump in the night. Ghosts, ghouls, werewolves, witches — creatures that haunt our nightmares and ignite our imaginations. Then, there are vampires. These denizens of the dark hold a special place in human history; our ancestors were genuinely afraid to travel when the sun was down, lest vampires bleed them dry. Entire communities feared bats and wolves, believing them to be bloodsuckers in disguise. Vampire hunting  became a legitimate profession in 18th century Europe. We really can’t overstate how much these monsters have messed with our minds over the years.

Maybe that’s why vampires have experienced so much success on the big screen. Vampires have frightened and excited audiences for decades — changing with the times and reflecting some of our darkest desires. As much as we dread these creatures of the night, there’s a small part of us that’s utterly fascinated with them.

Spooky season is in full swing this year, and many of us will participate in the festivities at home. Looking for a way to liven up the night? Here are eight iconic vampire movies to watch this Halloween.

Nosferatu (1922)

brad pitt ghost movie

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror  (or Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens  in German) is a staple of the horror genre. This German Expressionist masterpiece was helmed by director F. W. Murnau and stars Max Schreck as the infamous Count Orlok.

Special effects and robust film sets weren’t exactly a thing in the early 20th century. Murnau instead relied on mind-bending camera angles, striking shadows and innovative set design to scare audiences. This film’s impact on the history of cinema can’t be exaggerated — many horror film franchises likely wouldn’t exist if Nosferatu  hadn’t crept onto the scene and paved the way.

Dracula (1931)

brad pitt ghost movie

Nosferatu’s  popularity spread across Europe like wildfire. It didn’t take long for American filmmakers to catch wind of F.W. Murnau’s success either. But here’s the thing: Nosferatu was essentially an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula   — one that Murnau filmed without permission. Stoker’s wife successfully sued Murnau and Nosferatu  was pulled from theaters. Enter Universal Pictures, which paid approximately $40,000 for the rights to adapt Dracula . Garrett Fort penned the script while Tod Browning took the director’s chair. Bela Lugosi was cast as the titular prince of darkness, and the rest is cinematic history.

Dracula  is a genuinely terrifying landmark film. When many people think of Count Dracula, they think about Lugosi’s chilling performance. Universal’s adaptation takes plenty of inspiration from Nosferatu . However, Dracula is not a silent film; characters deliver their lines either with palpable dread or devilish delight. “Talkies” had only recently hit theaters in the early 1900s. Dracula helped legitimize sound films and reshape the movie industry.

Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958)

brad pitt ghost movie

Similar to sound films, Technicolor movies were also relative rarities in the early 20th century. Films were primarily shot on black and white stock, and filmgoers were accustomed to greyscale pictures. The opposite was true by the 1950s, which is when The Horror of Dracula  hit the scene. Hammer Films spared no expense when it adapted Bram Stoker’s timeless tale; special effects and ornate gothic sets were specifically created for this film. The Horror of Dracula  is also a much more visceral visual experience due to being shot in color.

We’d be remiss not to praise Christopher Lee’s performance as Count Dracula; he aimed to play the character as a “heroic, erotic and romantic”  figure — one that was just as mystifying as he was terrifying. Lee’s good friend Peter Cushing starred as Doctor Van Helsing, further elevating the film. And The Horror of Dracula  revealed something truly harrowing about vampires: they were dark reflections  of human nature.

Blacula (1972)

brad pitt ghost movie

The United States’ counterculture movement gathered momentum in the 1960s and persisted well into the 1970s. People vocalized dissatisfaction with the government, civil rights initiatives swept the nation and artists used their platforms to critique the powers that be. The Blaxploitation films of the 1970s echoed these sentiments, challenging decades-old stereotypes  that were (and still are) imposed on the Black community. Blacula  is precisely what its name implies; an adaptation of Stoker’s tale made primarily for Black people by Black people.

The late William Marshall portrays Prince Mamuwalde, a Nigerian man who asked the original Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to intervene during the transatlantic slave trade. For his trouble, Prince Mamuwalde was transformed into Blacula, sealed in a coffin and transported to America. Indeed, Count Blacula is a tragic anti-villain; he was stripped of his identity, taken from his homeland and left to fend for himself in a hostile environment. Allegorical, innovative and genuinely frightening, Blacula is worth a watch — and post-screening analysis.

The Lost Boys (1987)

brad pitt ghost movie

Drugs, sex, rock n’ roll and excess are hallmarks of the 1980s  — hallmarks that naturally found their way into ’80s cinema. The Lost Boys  epitomizes this trend; “It’s fun to be a vampire” is the film’s tagline, and that sentiment is more than reinforced throughout its runtime. Vampires are ageless, powerful, beautiful beings who live by their own rules and party like rockstars in The Lost Boys. That’s the scariest part about this film — how enticing vampirism can seem on the surface.

The Lost Boys can also be viewed as a metacommentary of the 1980s. Vampirism is an analogy for the excess and hedonism of the decade. Just like it seemed “fun to be a vampire,” it also seemed fun to be a hard-partying rockstar. Spellbinding performances by a committed cast, strong directing by Joel Schumacher and a compelling script helped The Lost Boys break new ground. Vampires weren’t just creepy anymore. They were also undeniably cool.

Blade (1998)

brad pitt ghost movie

You can’t talk about cool vampire movies without giving Blade  its due. The 1990s were an incredibly experimental time for the film industry; spec scripts were being produced by the dozens and comic book adaptations were becoming much more prevalent. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan created Blade in 1973 for Marvel Comics. At last, in 1998, Wesley Snipes would bring the Daywalker to life on the big screen. Directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer, Blade  redefined what superhero movies  and vampire films could be. Action, horror, pathos and even a bit of comedy are seamlessly woven into this film.

Though Blade  was initially overlooked when it premiered, the film has since been recognized for setting several precedents. It’s one of the first Black superhero movies to achieve widespread critical and commercial success, grossing $131.2 million off of a $45 million budget. Blade  also paved the way for many of the superhero films that have become commonplace today; it’s not a stretch to suggest that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man  trilogy, the Underworld franchise and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t exist if Blade  hadn’t resonated with audiences. Lastly, this film proved that vampires could transcend genres; Blade  is more of an action film than a horror flick, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Twilight (2008)

brad pitt ghost movie

Hate it or love it, Twilight’s  impact on cinema is undeniable. This adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel was an international phenomenon in its heyday. It focused solely on the romantic aspects of vampirism  — living forever, being young forever and loving forever. If reading that sentence was painful for you, imagine how excruciating it was to write. 

Personal feelings aside, Twilight is an iconic film in its own right. It spawned four sequels, launched numerous careers and kept vampires at the forefront of our collective imagination from 2008 to 2012. Even Burger King  got in on the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debacle. Twilight  ultimately proved that there was still a thriving, thirsting market for vampire films in the 21st century.

Blood Red Sky (2021)

brad pitt ghost movie

We end with Blood Red Sky, a British-German Netflix film  that’s equal parts graphic, terrifying and heart-wrenching. The film follows Nadja and her son Elias as they try to survive aboard a hijacked airplane. Discussing this film in detail without spoiling it is virtually impossible, but we can say this: Blood Red Sky  focuses on the toll that vampirism would exact on a person’s family, community and mental state. Scenes unfold at an intentionally deliberate pace. Minor characters and extras are treated with a degree of respect that we don’t often see.

In many ways, Blood Red Sky is the culmination of the vampire films that precede it; there are genuine scares here, alongside meta-commentary, dazzling action scenes and genuine pathos. Blood Red Sky  proves that vampire films can make viewers cry — not out of fear, but out of true remorse.


brad pitt ghost movie

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Brad Pitt sued Angelina Jolie for selling a stake in their vineyard

Breaking up is hard to do.

When actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie purchased a controlling stake in Chateau Miraval, a vineyard in southeast France, they liked it so much they eventually got married there.

Now the pair are divorced, and Pitt is suing Jolie for selling her stake in the Miraval estate.

Pitt is accusing his ex-wife of seeking to undermine his investment in the wine estate, which has grown into “a multimillion-dollar international success story,” according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles yesterday (Feb. 17). He’s reportedly seeking monetary damages, legal fees, and for the sale of Jolie’s stake to be voided.  

Jolie sold her stake to a Russian oligarch

The couple bought the Miraval estate for about €25,000 in 2008, with Pitt contributing about 60% of the purchase price. The actor says that when he and Jolie divorced in 2019, they had a “mutual understanding” that they couldn’t sell off their respective stakes in the vineyard without getting permission from the other person.

Pitt found out in October that Jolie had sold her stake in Miraval to Tenute del Mondo, a wine group controlled by the Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler. At the time, the CEO of Tenute del Mondo’s parent company Stoli said the company was “thrilled to have a position alongside Brad Pitt as curators of their extraordinary vintages.”

But Pitt says he never agreed to the sale. The lawsuit claims the acquisition deprived Pitt of the “right to enjoy his private home” on the Miraval estate, “and to oversee the business he developed from scratch.”

Miraval purchase worth estimated $164 million

In the years that Pitt and Jolie owned Miraval together, they cashed in on the growing popularity of rosé wine by producing and selling it out of the Provençal estate. In 2013 a Miraval wine with the couple’s name on it was ranked number one in the world by the trade magazine  Wine Spectator .

The complaint claims Miraval is now “one of the world’s most highly regarded producers of rosé wine,” bringing in $50 million annually, thanks to Pitt, who has “poured money and sweat equity into the wine business.” Chateau Miraval was valued at $164 million when the couple divorced. Jolie was one of the highest-paid actresses in the world in 2020, according to Forbes , earning nearly $36 million that year.

Jolie hasn’t yet commented on the lawsuit.

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Meet Joe Black

Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani in Meet Joe Black (1998)

Death, who takes the form of a young man killed in an accident, asks a media mogul to act as his guide to teach him about life on Earth and, in the process, he falls in love with the mogul's... Read all Death, who takes the form of a young man killed in an accident, asks a media mogul to act as his guide to teach him about life on Earth and, in the process, he falls in love with the mogul's daughter. Death, who takes the form of a young man killed in an accident, asks a media mogul to act as his guide to teach him about life on Earth and, in the process, he falls in love with the mogul's daughter.

  • Martin Brest
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Claire Forlani
  • 925 User reviews
  • 98 Critic reviews
  • 43 Metascore
  • See more at IMDbPro
  • 3 wins & 6 nominations

What Roles Did Brad Pitt Miss Out On?

  • Joe Black …

Anthony Hopkins

  • William Parrish

Claire Forlani

  • Susan Parrish

Jake Weber

  • Eddie Sloane
  • Jamaican Woman
  • Jamaican Woman's Daughter

Marylouise Burke

  • Construction Foreman
  • Electrician
  • (as Madeline N. Balmaceda)
  • Drew's Secretary
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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Seven Years in Tibet

Did you know

  • Trivia A truncated two-hour version has been shown on television and airlines, achieved by chopping out most of William Parrish's (Sir Anthony Hopkins ') business. Producer and director Martin Brest has disowned this edit, so the director's credit is for "Alan Smithee" (the usual nickname used for directors when they disregard from a work).
  • Goofs Just after Joe steps out of the crosswalk to watch Susan walk away, a man wearing a pink shirt walks behind him. There's a brief shot of Susan, and then the man in the pink shirt walks behind Joe again in the same direction.

William Parrish : Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I'm not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there's no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven't lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven't tried, you haven't lived.

  • Alternate versions TV version shortens the scene when Joe is hit by the cars.
  • Connections Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Siege/Elizabeth/Gods and Monsters/The Waterboy/The Wizard of Oz (1998)
  • Soundtracks Top Hat, White Tie, And Tails Written by Irving Berlin

User reviews 925

  • Oct 13, 2004
  • Who's the voice of the death?
  • November 13, 1998 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official Facebook
  • Hẹn Gặp Tử Thần
  • Aldrich Mansion - 836 Warwick Neck Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island, USA (William Parrish's mansion)
  • Universal Pictures
  • City Light Films
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $90,000,000 (estimated)
  • $44,619,100
  • $15,017,995
  • Nov 15, 1998
  • $142,940,100

Technical specs

  • Runtime 2 hours 58 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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Meet Joe Black

1998, Fantasy/Romance, 3h 0m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Meet Joe Black is pretty to look at and benefits from an agreeable cast, but that isn't enough to offset this dawdling drama's punishing three-hour runtime. Read critic reviews

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Meet joe black videos, meet joe black   photos.

Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), businessman and devoted family man, is about to celebrate his 65th birthday. However, before he reaches that landmark, he is visited by Death (Brad Pitt), who has taken human form as Joe Black, a young man who recently died. Joe and Bill make a deal: Bill will be given a few extra days of his life, and Joe will spend the same time getting to know what it's like to be human. It seems like a perfect arrangement, until Joe falls in love -- with Bill's daughter.

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama

Original Language: English

Director: Martin Brest

Producer: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn , Jeff Reno , Bo Goldman

Release Date (Theaters): Nov 2, 1998  original

Release Date (Streaming): Mar 18, 2014

Box Office (Gross USA): $44.6M

Runtime: 3h 0m

Distributor: Universal Pictures, MCA/Universal Pictures [us]

Production Co: Universal Pictures, City Lights Pictures

Sound Mix: Surround, Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS

Aspect Ratio: Flat (1.85:1)

Cast & Crew

Anthony Hopkins

William Parrish

Claire Forlani

Susan Parrish

Marcia Gay Harden

Jeffrey Tambor

David S. Howard

Eddie Sloane

Lois Kelly-Miller

Jamaican Woman

Martin Brest

Ronald L. Schwary

Executive Producer

Thomas Newman

Original Music

Emmanuel Lubezki


Joe Hutshing

Film Editing

Michael Tronick

Ellen Lewis

Juliet Taylor

Dante Ferretti

Production Design

Robert Guerra

Art Director

Leslie Bloom

Set Decoration

Aude Bronson-Howard

Costume Design

David Robinson

News & Interviews for Meet Joe Black

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Critic Reviews for Meet Joe Black

Audience reviews for meet joe black.

Far longer than it needs to be, and pretty silly at times, but unforgettable and fascinating. There's nothing out there like this film. It's a great look into the human mind and how it interacts with its environment, as shown in Pitt's almost childlike portrayal of Death. Good story, fantastic music and atmosphere...I just love how a lot of the scenes are set up in this film. Very unique.

brad pitt ghost movie

This movie really makes no sense, but I still enjoy it a lot by the grace of the willowy and wounded Claire Forlani. Death has been around since the beginning of time (just ballparking it), so how is he still so ignorant about friendship, passion, sex, success, greed, revenge - the ways of the world, essentially, including colloquialisms about Death and taxes? One would think he'd have a human dalliance every decade at least. The character is written to be a wide-eyed simpleton, and they had to pick the actor with the worst face and voice for that: Brad Pitt. He's so dead-eyed and dumb-sounding.

A very interesting film that I found to be really cool, however not as great as I had expected, it was very long an got stupid at times.

I I were just judging it's beautiful score, it would be a ten. If I had a brain? About a 5/10.

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Every brad pitt horror movie ranked from worst to best.

From zombie apocalypses to cheesy slashers to serial killer thrillers, what is the best (and worst) of blockbuster star Brad Pitt's horror movies?

Not all of  Brad Pitt ’s horror movies were critical successes, but some are surprisingly influential entries into the genre. For many actors, horror movies are a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Traditionally, the largely low-budget genre was viewed as a way for actors to get their name out there in the hopes that horror movie parts would lead to more impressive and — crucially — more respectable roles in the future.

However, the advent of “elevated horror” has shifted this perception. Nowadays, stars like Alexander Skarsgard don’t make horror movies  until they are already well established and can often gain acclaim for their daring choice of projects. However, one star who took the traditional route when it comes to horror roles is The Lost Cit y ’s Brad Pitt.

Related:  Rick & Morty’s Grossest Joke Is Taken From An Obscure Horror Movie

Although Pitt is better known for his blockbuster roles nowadays, the actor has featured in his fair share of horror efforts. Before his breakthrough role in Thelma and Louise , Pitt appeared in 1989’s Cutting Class around the same time that the actor cropped up in not one, but two, major horror anthology shows on television. After that early role, Pitt wouldn’t revisit the horror genre until 1993’s serial killer thriller Kalifornia , which was swiftly followed by the campy horror romance Interview With A Vampire , where Pitt bumped up his blockbuster credibility by starring alongside Mission Impossible franchise star Tom Cruise . Now a household name, Pitt was able to avoid the horror genre in favor of bigger budget projects, but he did return to the scarier side of genre fare for 1995’s serial killer thriller Se7en . That outing was his last horror movie until 2013’s much-delayed zombie movie World War Z , an epic that merged apocalyptic action with horror elements.

Cutting Class

One of Pitt’s earliest roles, 1989's  Cutting Class is a weak slasher that arrived at the tail end of the sub-genre’s dominance in horror. Although there are some surprisingly fun moments of back comedy, Cutting Class ’s predictable story of a misunderstood teen arriving out of a mental institution only to be surrounded by suspicious killings adds nothing new to the genre. That said, Cutting Class is still more fun than most classic slasher franchise sequels  of the same decade, thanks to Pitt’s spirited turn as the school’s resident bad boy and comedy veteran Martin Mull’s supporting role.

World War Z

2013’s World War Z is an atypically ambitious zombie movie, telling the tale of an undead epidemic not from the perspective of ordinary citizens, but Brad Pitt’s UN advisor. In World War Z ’s original novel form, this gambit works well, offering a grounded (albeit somewhat dry) idea of what international bureaucracy’s response to a zombie apocalypse would look like. As a movie, however, World War  Z is a little self-serious and worthy, not to mention nowhere near scary enough to function as a zombie horror. That said, World War Z is still a bit better than 2007’s earlier sci-fi horror adaptation I Am Legend , even though ultimately both apocalyptic zombie movies fall into the same trap. Big budget, large-scale action-horror rarely scares, and it’s even less likely to do so with an uber-famous lead actor who viewers can be sure will at least make it to the movie’s finale.

Pitt’s performance as the alluringly unhinged Early Grayce is the best thing about Kalifornia , a grungy 90s thriller wherein a serial killer and his disarmingly innocent girlfriend hitch a lift with an artsy, pretentious couple across the US. A harsher version of the same story was told in Dark Blood and a more playful, blackly comic version arrived in 1996’s Freeway , but Kalifornia is still worth a watch to see Pitt nail a sleazy villain role. However, horror aficionados who found Juliette Lewis’s child-like innocence discomfiting in Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear remake  will want to steer clear of this one, as the actor manages to make Pitt’s girlish romantic partner/hostage tragically believable and accordingly hard to watch in a sad supporting role.

Related:  Will Smith’s Oscars Moment Will Hurt I Am Legend 2

Interview With A Vampire

Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, two titans of blockbuster cinema, come head to head in a melodramatic horror romance. Interview With A Vampire ’s story spans centuries, telling the tale of vampiric life partners Lestat and Louis’s not-quite-romance. It’s touching, tragic, over-the-top, and surprisingly affecting at times, although despite its status as a horror movie, no one could claim that Interview With A Vampire is ever particularly scary. Pitt’s melancholic vampire is an engaging lead, and Cruise puts the cocksure charm of Top Gun ’s Maverick  to use in a rare villainous role. However, a preternaturally talented Kirsten Dunst steals Interview With A Vampire  from under both actors as the foul-mouthed vampire child Claudia. Admittedly uneven and a touch overlong, Interview With A Vampire is still a campy delight that takes the over-the-top fun of  Bram Stoker’s Dracula into even more ludicrous territory.

Unremittingly grim and brutal, Se7en is more of a horror movie than a detective story and more of a deep plunge into the depths of human depravity than a standard-issue horror movie. Director David Fincher’s modern masterpiece is easily Pitt’s best horror movie, and a massively influential entry into the genre to boot. Pitt and Fincher collaborated  again on the more urgent Fight Club , but Se7en sees the duo find the perfect balance between the cold, clinical cynicism of Fincher’s style and the puppy dog sweetness Pitt brings to the role of inexperienced detective David Mills.

Se7en ’s tightly-wound plot unravels slow, taking Pitt’s doomed hero on a trip through Hell as he pursues a mysterious murderer through a perpetually rain-soaked, impossibly gray metropolis. Willfully ugly, hopeless, and harsh, Se7en was a risky move for both its director and its star. However, thanks to Pitt’s engaging lead role, Morgan Freeman’s typically stellar support work as his taciturn partner, and the script’s constant stream of shocking twists, Se7en is a major gamble that paid off beautifully for all involved. Even as classic horror franchises are revived every other week, it is unlikely that Hollywood will produce another movie as nihilistic and dark as Fincher’s 1995 hit any time soon. Fortunately, this means Se7en will stay star Brad Pitt ’s best horror movie - as well as one of the best psychological thrillers ever - for some time to come.

More:  Nightmare On Elm Street's Reboot Can’t Replicate Halloween 2018’s Success

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Profile menu, the 12 best brad pitt movies.

Over his long-running career, Brad Pitt has packed a punch in a variety of roles. In some performances — as an underground fighter in both Fight Club (1999) and Snatch (2000) or an assassin in Bullet Train (2022) — he's done so quite literally. But movie fans have fallen in love with Pitt for his eclectic range of characters: as a baseball manager, stuntman, wacky personal trainer, detective, and so much more.

So here, in no particular order, is our list of the best Brad Pitt movies.

12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys (1995)

Pitt earned his first Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Terry Gilliam 's science-fiction time-travel thriller, 12 Monkeys . While he lost the Oscar, Pitt did take home his first Golden Globe . Teaming up with costar Bruce Willis , Pitt plays Jeffrey Goines, an unpredictable, ranting psychiatric patient in a dystopian facility who happens to be the son of the world's premiere virologist–turned–aggressive social activist. The throughline of the film is unsettling in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where Willis' character, prisoner James Cole, traverses time to gather more information about the onset of a viral outbreak that killed billions.

In 12 Monkeys , a young Pitt delivers a performance with varying degrees of composure and totally erratic behavior, exposing his bare bottom and tearing pillows as he remains unfazed by disturbing actions, such as Willis' character swallowing a spider alive . More details about Goines' motivations are revealed as Cole jumps between timelines. As Pitt's character evolves, so does his mission. Once released from the psychiatric center, Goines embodies his misunderstood-rich-kid-activist mentality, taking underground action to protest animal testing — like letting snakes loose on the Senate floor — while eloquently pontificating as he turns his back on his father's wealth and legacy. It isn't until the final act that the audience can truly understand Goines' scope of involvement in the catastrophic outbreak.


A River Runs Through It (1992)

A River Runs Through It , the 1992 drama directed by Robert Redford , was nominated for a slew of Oscars and even took one home for Best Cinematography. In the novella-inspired, Montana-set film, Pitt plays Paul Maclean, the son of a reverend and younger brother of academic Norman Maclean (Craig Sheffer). The movie is a beautiful slice-of-life vignette, complete with a story of family, companionship, love, and loss. Paul, a young journalist and beloved son, has an alcohol addiction that bleeds into his everyday life, which leaves his brother helpless as he observes the dangerous scenarios his little brother habitually thrusts himself into. Pitt's character is successful, but is all too familiar with fist-fights and jail cells.

But there is one place Paul Maclean finds his inner peace: fly fishing on Missoula waters. With his rod in hand, Maclean's line moves through the air and current like a ballet dancer pirouetting across the stage. Indulging in their family pastime, the Macleans find reprieve from their troubles and tragedies while knee-deep in the Blackfoot River. A cautionary tale about manhood and one's place in the world, A River Runs Through It showcases Pitt's early acting chops — no chic mystique or explosions necessary.


Fight Club (1999)

Based on Chuck Palahniuk 's 1996 novel of the same name, David Fincher 's Fight Club is arguably Pitt's most iconic and recognizable work, as the character of Tyler Durden has transcended film into the general cultural consciousness as a symbol of anti-capitalist-establishment enlightened masculinity. Celebrated by some as gospel and criticized by others as pseudo-intellectual, the split-personality meanderings of Pitt and his counterpart — played by the incredible Edward Norton  — have endured the test of time and are quoted in the vein of films like The Godfather (1972) or Scarface (1983). Remember, "The things you own, end up owning you."

As Tyler Durden, Pitt struts with a cigarette in his mouth, rocking his sunglasses and trademark jackets: both leather and fur. The hyper-macho, wildly sexual (alongside Helena Bonham Carter ), bare-knuckle-brawler perfectly juxtaposes Norton's buttoned-up, Ikea catalog-loving worker bee mentality. As the two explore the curious nature of their relationship, the violent underground fighting ring which brought them together, and the anarchist plans of "Project Mayhem," Pitt delivers one unforgettable scene after the next. Whether it's the reveal of Fight Club and the reciting of its rules, "making soap," or explaining the "illusion of safety," the amalgamation of moments cements that Durden may long be held as Pitt's most beloved role. It's regrettable that the film only received an Oscar nod for Best Sound Editing.


Burn After Reading (2008)

No stranger to outrageous ensemble casts, Pitt's performance in the 2008 Coen brothers dark-comedy-thriller, Burn After Reading , stands out even while he's amongst a bevy of fellow Hollywood heavyweights including George Clooney , Frances McDormand , Tilda Swinton , John Malkovich , J.K. Simmons , and Richard Jenkins . Pitt plays Chad Feldheimer, a gum-chewing, frosted-tipped personal trainer who navigates the world with a sense of childlike wonder that exists in complete dichotomy with the plot of the film. After discovering a compact disc with allegedly leaked CIA documents, Pitt and McDormand's characters thrust themselves into a world of love affairs, murder, and utter confusion.

Despite the high stakes and casual violence of the film, Pitt's character remains giddy as he frolics, dances, and snaps. He fist bumps on the treadmill and casually drinks orange juice while extorting a federal agent by phone. Feldheimer finds himself more concerned with the safety of his bicycle than the litany of felonies he is casually committing, all the while surprised when things go awry. Take, for example, when Feldheimer tries to shake down agent Osborne Cox (Malkovich), who instead delivers the former a swift punch to the face. Feldheimer recoils in confusion and pain, bewildered as to why he deserved such a blow. Burn After Reading delivers Brad Pitt in rare form: a bumbling blockhead who loves berry blast smoothies and sports an iPod strapped to his arm. Both the film and his character are fantastic timepieces of the late-aughts.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)Brad Pitt

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

In Quentin Tarantino 's sprawling World War II-era fantasy, Inglourious Basterds , Pitt leads an elite crew of Jewish American soldiers through German-occupied France with one clear mission: to kill Nazis. Playing Lt. Aldo Raine, an ex-moonshiner from Maynardville, Tenn., the no-nonsense leader tells his squad that they should each deliver him 100 Nazi scalps or die trying. Raine, a man of the Great Smoky Mountains, goes by the nickname of "Aldo the Apache." But he's not the only soldier whose name precedes him. Take for example, Sgt. Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. "The Bear Jew" ( Eli Roth ), who fancies taking a baseball bat to the fascist opposition.

Pitt's character doesn't mince words. He has a clear distaste for the Third Reich, often smack-talking their troopers' affinity for sauerkraut and schnitzel before carving a Swastika into their foreheads. Raine can have tact, like negotiating his team out of a dangerous basement, or use subtle brute force by sticking his finger into a fresh bullet wound in order to navigate difficult situations appropriately. Perhaps the most entertaining image of Lieutenant Raine is in the film's final chapter when the all-American boy cleans up in a white tuxedo and fails miserably at presenting himself as stuntman Enzo Gorlomi — brashly tossing out Italian fragments in his Tennessee drawl. Inglourious Basterds earned eight Academy Awards nominations, with Christoph Waltz taking home Best Actor in a Supporting Role honors for his role as SS Col. Hans Landa.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Interview With the Vampire (1994)

Complete with a ponytail, fancy suit, and pale face, Pitt's character, Louis, details his life as a man — and vampire — to a curious journalist ( Christian Slater ) at the onset of the 1994 Neil Jordan -directed Interview With the Vampire . Based on Anne Rice 's novel, Interview   was arguably the film that helped propel Pitt into superstardom. Told retrospectively through flashbacks from the current day to the 1700s, the film details Louis' story of a man who lost his infant and wife during childbirth. Wallowing in his depression and hoping for a "release from the pain of living," Pitt's character is attacked by Tom Cruise 's Lestat, a Parisian vampire transplant. After being left for dead on the banks of the Mississippi River, Louis later submits to Lestat's offer to live "free from sickness and death" as a vampire by drinking the latter's blood straight from his wrist. 

Louis recounts centuries of life as a vampire, including trips to New Orleans so the duo could dine on French cuisine, as Cruise's character Lestat exhibits truly creepy behavior, like biting a woman's breast during a sexual encounter. Eventually, the vampires convert a young girl named Claudia ( Kirsten Dunst ) to join their bloodsucking family. (Despite it being Dunst's first major role, her performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination.) Ultimately, Louis is portrayed as a broken man whose regret is the only semblance of humanity he retains. A vampire who chronically lamented the idea of killing innocent victims to feed and sustain his own life, he's described as an "immortal with a mortal's passion." If the absurd layers of this film aren't enough to pique interest, any film that includes Pitt slicing flying, flaming vampires with a massive scythe is worth a watch. Interview isn't a masterpiece, but the ridiculousness that it even exists necessitates a viewing.

Meet Joe Black (1997) L-R Claire Forlani and Brad PItt

Meet Joe Black (1998)

Contrary to the mixed critical fanfare and harsh criticism of its three-hour-plus runtime, 1998's Meet Joe Black holds up with a charm that's subtle, refreshing, and thought-provoking. The film is palatable and digestible, which is a tall order considering it's almost exclusively driven by dialogue. Oh, and by the way, Pitt is playing death . Correct, he plays the character operating under the pseudonym of "Joe Black," and is quickly revealed as the human embodiment of death, temporarily perusing Earth as he prepares to take media mogul William Parrish ( Anthony Hopkins ) to the other side. A devilishly handsome grim reaper, Pitt first takes screen as a different identity: a quick-witted young professional who enchants Susan (Claire Forlani) — who happens to be the mogul's daughter— in a diner before they bid farewell. It's not long before a tragic accident replaces Pitt's character's soul with the spirit of death. A confusing love story falls into place, but intertwines with the burning questions we all have: What's the point of it all? When will we expire? What will our legacy be? And is the passion of love worth the heartache of loss?

Pitt's performance is dramatic but is complemented by a disarming levity. New to the human form, death becomes obsessed with peanut butter. He marvels at the wheels on an office chair and speaks with no filter. It has some unexpectedly hilarious moments, but, in short, Meet Joe Black is a great film because it's about mortality. It's about the fleeting nature of time; the desire to live life as long as possible when its sanctity is threatened; and the uncomfortable resolution that some — such as the terminally ill or the accomplished and resolute — may be ready to leave it behind.

Moneyball (2011)Brad Pitt

Moneyball (2011)

Few expected Pitt and Jonah Hill to deliver a film as moving and dramatic as 2011's Moneyball . Based on Michael Lewis ' best-selling book that provides an account of the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season, the film details the strategy implored by the team's general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Hill) to redevelop the way a Major League Baseball team is constructed both financially and philosophically. With support from the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman , Chris Pratt , and more, Moneyball transcends the typical triumphant underdog sports film. By investing in character development and strategy developed off the diamond, the film embraces the stoic, reserved nature of Pitt's character. Beane took pride in embracing new, pragmatic ways of thinking in a room full of naysayers and traditional baseball purists. "We've got to think differently," Beane insisted as he knocked at a table surrounded by lifelong scouts. 

In Pitt's performance, his calm in the face of enormous risk spoke louder than a ferocious loudmouth ever could. Beane and Brand systematically built a game-winning team off of statistics and budget, rather than investing the entire franchise's finances into players who were flashy, self-centered, or individually successful. As Beane explains to his team, the two acted as card counters who were ready to get back at the casino — or teams with astronomical budgets and star power. And perhaps the funniest quirk of Pitt's character, he didn't ever watch the games. Moneyball isn't just a sports movie, it's a great movie. It was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Tarantino's ninth film transports audiences back to late-'60s Los Angeles, where fading Western star Rick Dalton ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) is struggling to find his way forward in an ever-changing landscape — boozing it up in the process. His stunt double, Cliff Booth (Pitt), meanwhile, is the calm, collected, classic car-driving, Hawaiian shirt-donning Everyman who has no issue climbing up on the roof to get his hands dirty. And his performance was much appreciated, as Pitt took home an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The film also took home an Academy Award for production design, and in total was nominated in 10 categories.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stimulates the audience in the way only a Tarantino film can. When Pitt first meets Al Pacino 's character in the famous Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, he's sitting at the bar in a denim jacket, crunching on a stalk of celery and twirling it through his Bloody Mary, smiling and cool as a cucumber. That's a pretty good metaphor for Cliff Booth, who is equal parts suave and badass. Pitt also crosses paths with a stunt coordinator played by Kurt Russell (with a nice nod to Tarantino's Death Proof ) and somehow ends up fistfighting Bruce Lee on a studio lot. Then there's the story line featuring Sharon Tate ( Margot Robbie ) and Charles Manson ( Damon Herriman ) — and Pitt's tense visit to the Manson family ranch. Of course, the three-hour flick includes a good old-fashioned brawl and beatdown delivered by Pitt himself — and Leo has more than one opportunity to wield a flamethrower.

SEVEN, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, 1995

Se7en (1995)

Like Fight Club , Se7en is also directed by Fincher and is widely regarded as one of the most intense roles of Pitt's career. As the story goes, a week outside of retirement, Detective Somerset ( Morgan Freeman ) is ready to step away from police work. As he's showing young Detective Mills (Pitt) the ropes as he prepares to escape the chaos, he's given a unique case as a parting gift: a serial murderer is utilizing the seven deadly sins as a theme in his killings. The murders in the film represent the seven deadly sins as defined by Christianity: gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath. 

The slayings are particularly grisly and not for the faint of heart (though they're always shown after the fact). Take for example, the first victim portrays gluttony: a man affected by obesity is force-fed literally to death via hemorrhage. It's a twisted film that's somewhat reminiscent of what horror films like Saw (2004) would later try to evoke by doubling down on the killer's perceived sense of justice for his crimes. Pitt's performance is powerful in Se7en, notably crescendoing in the film's final act, when the killer John Doe ( Kevin Spacey ) leads the detectives into the desert. They locate a cardboard box with nefarious content, resulting in Pitt's famed scream, "What's in the box!?!?"

SNATCH, Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Stephen Graham

Snatch (2000)

The 2000 Guy Ritchie film Snatch places Pitt amongst a cavalcade of gangsters, thieves, and hooligans played by an all-star cast including Jason Statham , Stephen Graham , Lennie James , Benicio Del Toro , and Dennis Farina . Taking place in the rough-and-tumble world of British organized crime, gambling, and underground boxing, a grifter named Mickey O'Neil (Pitt) finds himself at the center of the blowback from an 84-karat diamond heist, a series of failed fight setups, and murder by arson. A cheeky troublemaker with the gift of (somewhat incomprehensible) gab, O'Neil's tattooed torso and penchant for gold jewelry perfectly complement his physique: that of a bare-knuckle boxing champion. Mickey demonstrates quickly that he's more than just aesthetic, as he tosses an enormous man through a wooden gate in an exhibition of raw power.

Complete with a leather fedora, mustache, and cigarette hanging from his mouth, O'Neil is ready to swindle you for whatever you're worth — making him a thorn in the side of boxing promoters and low-key criminals Turkish (Statham) and Tommy (Graham). A brutish warrior who loves his mother dearly, Pitt's character is focused on providing for his family and seeking vengeance when harm is done in his own backyard. The crime-comedy plotlines interact and come to a close in the most serendipitous of ways, almost as if you were to combine a Coen brothers movie with an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm .

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Perhaps the most peculiar character in Pitt's filmography is his title role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , yet another Fincher film. Loosely based on a short story written by The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald , the movie was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and took home three Oscars: for makeup, art direction, and visual effects. Alongside a terrific cast including Cate Blanchett , Taraji P. Henson , Mahershala Ali , and Tilda Swinton , the film tells the story of Button, who is born with the appearance and strength of an elderly man and ultimately ages backward into infancy. While the story is book-ended by scenes in New Orleans at the onset of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, Button's life journey begins in 1918. Over the years, he navigates his condition, historical milestones, and romance with his childhood friend and lifelong partner, Daisy (Blanchett).

Pitt's performance in the movie, coupled with CGI and makeup, makes for a role with a variety of sub-characters built in. Not only did he perform as the same person at different ages, but at each of those ages he was inversely represented physically. The precision and focus to pull off such a premise cannot be overstated. Aside from the technical acting precision of Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a masterful film because of the universal sentiments it provokes — even through the purview of a character whose life experience is unique and unrelatable. The movie's most fundamental yings and yangs are abundant: Life's highs and lows, births and deaths, and successes and failures are all demonstrated through Button's unusual path and the characters he's met along the way. It's a tragic yet heartwarming reminder to spend time with those you care for and be present all the while.

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“Meet Joe Black” is a movie about a rich man trying to negotiate the terms of his own death. It is a movie about a woman who falls in love with a concept. And it is a meditation on the screen presence of Brad Pitt . That there is also time for scenes about sibling rivalry and a corporate takeover is not necessarily a good thing. The movie contains elements that make it very good, and a lot of other elements besides. Less is more.

As the movie opens, a millionaire named William Parrish ( Anthony Hopkins ) is pounded by a heart attack, the soundtrack using low bass chords to assault the audience. He hears a voice--his own--in his head. On the brink of his 65th birthday, he senses that death is near. He tells his beloved younger daughter Susan ( Claire Forlani ) that he likes her fiance but doesn't sense that she truly loves him: “Stay open. Lightning could strike.” It does. A few hours later, in a coffee shop, she meets a stranger (Brad Pitt). They talk and flirt. He says all the right things. Lightning makes, at the very least, a near miss. They confess they really like each other. They part. He is killed. That night at dinner, she is startled to find him among her father's guests. The body of the young man is now occupied by Death, who has come to inform Parrish that his end is near.

He does not recognize Susan. That's odd. Isn't Death an emissary from God? Shouldn't he know these things? He's been around a long time (one imagines him breaking the bad news to amoebas). This Death doesn't even know what peanut butter tastes like, or how to kiss. A job like that, you want a more experienced man.

No matter. We accept the premise. We're distracted, anyway, by the way Brad Pitt plays the role. As both the young man in the coffee shop and as “Joe Black” (the name given him by Parrish), he is intensely aware of himself--too aware. Pitt is a fine actor, but this performance is a miscalculation. Meryl Streep once said that an experienced actor knows that the words “I love you” are really a question. Pitt plays them as a compliment to himself. There is no chemistry between Joe Black and Susan because both parties are focused on him.

That at least leads to the novelty of a rare movie love scene where the camera is focused on the man's face, not the woman's. Actresses have become skilled over the years at faking orgasms on camera, usually with copious cries of delight and sobs of passion. (As they're buffeted by their competent male lovers, I am sometimes reminded of a teenager making the cheerleader team, crossed with a new war widow.) A male actor would have to be very brave to reveal such loss of control, and Pitt's does not cry out. His orgasm plays in slow motion across his face like a person who is thinking, this is way better than peanut butter.

I was not, in short, sold on the relationship between Susan and Joe. She spends most of the movie puzzling about a very odd man who briefly made her heart feel gooey. There is no person there for her, just the idea of perfect love. Joe Black is presented as a being who is not familiar with occupying a human body or doing human things. One wonders--is this the first time Death has tried this approach? Parrish strikes a deal with him (he won't die as long as he can keep Joe interested and teach him new things) and takes him everywhere with him, including board meetings, where Joe's response to most situations is total silence, while looking like the cat that ate the mouse.

The Parrish character, and Anthony Hopkins' performance, are entirely different matters. Hopkins invests the dying millionaire with intelligence and acceptance, and he talks wonderfully well. “Meet Joe Black” consists largely of conversations, which are well-written and do not seem false or forced as long as Parrish is involved in them. His key business relationships are with the snaky Drew ( Jake Weber ), whom Susan dumps for Joe, and with the avuncular Quince ( Jeffrey Tambor ), his loyal but bumbling son-in-law. Quince is married to Allison ( Marcia Gay Harden ), who knows Susan is her father's favorite but can live with that because Parrish is such a swell guy. (He's ethical, sensitive, and beloved--the first movie rich man who could at least squeeze his head and shoulders through the eye of the needle.) What's fascinating about Parrish is that he handles death as he has handled everything else. He makes a realistic assessment of his chances, sees what advantages he can extract, negotiates for the best possible terms and gracefully accepts the inevitable. There are times when he handles his talks with Death so surely that you wish Heaven had sent a more articulate negotiator.

The movie's ending takes too long. There are farewells, reflections, confessions, reassurances, reconciliations, partings and surprises. Joe Black begins to get on our nerves with his knack for saying things that are technically true, but incomplete and misleading. The film would play better if he didn't always have to talk in epigrams. Even at the very end, when a line or two of direct dialogue would have cleared the air, he's still talking in acrostic clues.

Still, there's so much that's fine in this movie, directed by Martin Brest (“ Scent of a Woman ”). Claire Forlani has a touching vulnerability as she negotiates the strange terms of her love. Marcia Gay Harden plays a wise, grownup scene with Parrish, as a loving daughter who knows she isn't the favorite. Jeffrey Tambor's performance is crucial; through his eyes, we understand what a good man Parrish is. And Anthony Hopkins inhabits a story that tends toward quicksand and finds dry land. You sense a little of his “ Nixon ” here: a man who can use anger like a scalpel, while still standing back to monitor the result.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film credits.

Meet Joe Black movie poster

Meet Joe Black (1998)

Rated PG-13 For An Accident Scene, Some Sexuality and Brief Strong Language

174 minutes

Jake Weber as Drew

Anthony Hopkins as William Parrish

Brad Pitt as Joe Black

Claire Forlani as Susan Parrish

Jeffrey Tambor as Quince

Marcia Gay Harden as Allison

Directed by

  • Martin Brest

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