interview Brad Pitt talks about playing a gritty professional gunman in Killing Them Softly
Brad Pitt’s new film Killing Them Softly based on the 1973 novel Cogan's Trade , by George V. Higgins, centres around the effects of a mysterious poker game heist. Brad Pitt plays Jackie Cogan, a folk music-loving mob enforcer, who is called in to find the suspected culprits. Directed by Andrew Dominik, Killing Them Softly is a crime drama that illustrates gangster life in the wake of the recession. Set during the 2008 election, political commentary and presidential speeches are a major part of the film's narrative. In an email interaction, Brad Pitt talks about playing a gritty professional gunman with a cold heart and producing a film with universal appeal.
Your character appears as cool as ever in the middle of all the mayhem! How would you describe him?
Killing Them Softly is an adaptation of George V Higgins' novel Cogan's Trade , with the action moved from the 1970s to the 2008 financial crisis. My character’s name is Jackie Cogan, a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game. It was interesting to feel in charge and at ease with lowlife losers and pricey attorneys. It was fun getting that dominant element in terms of my body language. My life is defined by my job in the film.
Leaving aside the innumerable 'sexist man alive' tags that you hold, as a 'family man', how do you relate to Jackie Cogan?
First, I don’t take these media-created labels seriously. Jackie Cogan is a fictitious character. He is not inspired by any real life persona. If I were to relate to him as a family man, I would have to be part of a rather dysfunctional family for sure! On a serious note, Jackie is a lethal, lean mean fighting machine. His actions resonate with violence and cold blooded mayhem. And yet, he is not an evil character. His violence stems from circumstances that make him do wrong. I would like to see how people react to this quietly powerful sociopath and if they do so strongly.
Have you decided to space out your work and hence are deliberately doing fewer films?
I have had one hell of a career in films so far, having tried both the mega-budget, studio-backed blockbusters to the kind of films that appealed to me, irrespective of how much business they brought in. I have worked with some great filmmakers irrespective of the length of my role. I am greedy nevertheless but not so much about having the spotlight on me forever. Today, I feel I am in a safe place. I can take risks without feeling insecure about my career by only doing films that interest me.
Because we're actors, we want to tell stories; we want to tell personal stories. And not just something you can plug any one of us in and basically get the same thing. Get into something that's really personal that means something to you, where you have something to say. There was a time when I did things I was told would be good for me. And they weren't, because it left me empty, so I didn't do a good job anyways. I think that's what's key to what we do: It's got to be personal.
We are getting to read about how you wouldn't mind acting or even shaking a leg in Bollywood. Any concrete plans to get there?
Indian cinema seems to be growing very well at its own pace. I would love to work in a Bollywood film as there is so much drama and colour in the films there. The filmmaking, I hear, has evolved a lot in India and of late we have witnessed some good films making a presence at the Oscars and the world stage. That tells you a lot about the quality of the actors and the films. You never know when I might decide to work in a Bollywood film and do one of those dance numbers with the whole crew in the backdrop!