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Brad Pitt finally makes a movie kids can see


Brad Pitt has built his career on unexpected choices and an ability to change gears.
He goes from drama to comedy, from hero to villain, from big-budget blowouts to on-a-shoestring indie features. He turns up as a smooth-talking crook ("Ocean's 11") and a mumbling lowlife ("Snatch"). He goes from the ultimate pacifist ("Seven Years in Tibet") to the personification of violence ("The Fight Club"). He's equally at home in period pieces ("Legends of the Fall") and futuristic sci-fi ("12 Monkeys").
Even so, he has found something new to tackle: cartoons. He provides the voice for the title character in "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," an animated adventure that opens Wednesday.
This one, he said, is for the kids.
"I've got little nieces and nephews, like most of us, and I wanted to do something they could enjoy, something beyond people's heads being cut off and put in boxes," he said, referring to the thriller "Seven," in which he played a detective on the trail of a sadistic serial killer.
Pitt, who's in Europe filming the period epic "Troy," didn't go looking for a voiceover gig, he admitted. But he didn't have to think twice about accepting the offer when he was approached by Jeffrey Katzenberg, producer of the animated blockbusters "Shrek" and "The Prince of Egypt" and one of the founders of DreamWorks.
"With Jeffrey Katzenberg, you're at the top of the bar in quality," Pitt said.
Besides, animation has come a long way from the Saturday-morning TV cartoons he watched as a kid in the late '60s.
"It's such a fine time for animation," he said. "The best of the best are at work."
No Sinbad look
Animators say that in creating their characters, they often use physical traits from the actors providing the voices. For the "Sinbad" animators, that certainly wouldn't have been a bad idea. After all, Pitt routinely lands on various lists of "sexiest stars" (Empire magazine) and "most beautiful people" (People).
But in this case, the physical similarity is not strong. Although both Pitt and Sinbad are strong-chinned, Sinbad has dark hair and eyes, while Pitt's fair hair and blue eyes are high on the list of reasons women have swooned over him ever since he thumbed a ride with "Thelma & Louise."
Pitt doesn't see a resemblance, either.
"No, I don't," he said, adding with a self-deprecatory laugh: "But what do I know?"
For one thing, he knows that he likes variety. He never tackles two similar projects in a row.
"I like jumping around and getting into some territories I haven't been in before," he said.
To wit, as soon as he finished talking about "Sinbad," he was going back to work on "Troy," which director Wolfgang Petersen has based on Homer's "The Iliad." Some Web sites have described it as "the definitive epic."
"It's the biggest movie I've ever worked on," Pitt confirmed. "It's a monster. It's based on the Trojan War. Basically, it's a bunch of men in skirts, fighting over a woman."
Doing voiceover work turned out to be easier than he had expected. It just took a little getting used to.
"It's harder to capture the subtleties of the scene when you're just relying on your voice," he said. "But, overall, it's much simpler [than acting]. It's great fun. You just go in and have a laugh."
He thinks that the timing helped. Katzenberg wanted the project to be well underway when he approached the actors, who, in addition to Pitt, include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dennis Haysbert and Joseph Fiennes. Instead of getting just a vague description of the film and a few rough pencil sketches to study, the cast got a comprehensive and surprisingly detailed presentation.
"They were already two years into this thing when I came along," Pitt said. "Each time I came in to do a session, they would show me a little bit that they had been working on, to get the flavor of what was going on. Again, I'm so impressed with these guys. The animation, the detail of the expression. . . . I mean, it's really a high point for animation."
Meet the press
Working in England poses a different potential problem: protecting his privacy. The British paparazzi are legendary for their vigorous/pushy (it depends on your point of view) attitude when it comes to covering celebrities.
True to form, it didn't take them long to find out that Pitt was doing interviews in a hotel across from Hyde Park. Although a couple of no-nonsense security guards made sure that only members of the press with appointments were allowed into the hotel, the street outside the building quickly filled with photographers.
Pitt and his equally famous wife, Jennifer Aniston, are prime targets for such overkill, but he purported to be unruffled by it.
"It's part of the business," he said with a shrug. "And expected."
Perhaps because he studied journalism in college -- when the acting bug bit, he left the University of Missouri two credits shy of a degree -- he's philosophical about his interaction with the press. He draws a line between what he considers the good press and the bad press.
"We've got to distinguish," he said. "There are different breeds of paparazzi. There are some that are responsible for documenting this era, and they do some great work and get some great shots and they're still respectful. Then there are the others, that have no line. And can justify any of it. Those are the ones I'll fight to the end."
Another disadvantage of being in England is that he won't be around his nieces and nephews when "Sinbad" opens. But he's confident of their reaction.
"They're going to love this one," he predicted. "I can't wait for them to see it."

Jeff Strickler, Star Tribune
Meet Brad Pitt: Actor talks traps, perfection, and honesty

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- He is one of the most elusive superstars in Hollywood today, and one of the most sought-after by women of all ages. Brad Pitt seemed to come out of nowhere and into the spotlight with 1992's "A River Runs Through It," and he hasn't been able to escape the glare of the paparazzi spotlight since.
Through it all, Pitt has remained tight-lipped on most personal issues, including his relationship and break-up with actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
CNN'S Laurin Sydney met up with him recently to talk about his new film "Meet Joe Black," and he responded to some probing questions about who he is, who he wants to be and why.
LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN "SHOWBIZ TODAY" ANCHOR: What about all this attention you're getting ever since "A River Runs Through It"? For the first year you kind of hid out. Can you deal with it now?
BRAD PITT, STAR OF "MEET JOE BLACK": It's more comfortable now. At first you don't know how to take it because you're getting this attention and people are saying you're greater than you feel or worse than you feel and you know, I just didn't know what to do with it, so I hid out. But now it is more comfortable. You just gotta understand the nature of the beast.
SYDNEY: Was it a beast for you at first?
PITT: Listen, I know it sounds funny because I chose acting and it doesn't make sense, you don't want the attention. But it's just a big life change and something you gotta make adjustments for, you know?
SYDNEY: Does it help at all that there are new kids on the block like Leo DiCaprio or Matt Damon?
PITT: Yeah, sure that helps.
SYDNEY: You're a romantic guy. You've been quoted as saying, "I am pretty much mush." Does that mean you cry at Hallmark cards?
PITT: Yeah, well you know, I shed a tear at that commercial.
SYDNEY: So you're still mush to this day?
PITT: A little bit. Listen, I wish I could be tougher.
SYDNEY: Any quotes that I read about people that truly know you, or people that you've worked with -- they are astounded by your morals, astounded by your ethics, and you just made a face.
PITT: Listen, I don't ... morals, morals ... I have a hard time with morals. All I know is what feels right, what's more important to me is being honest about who you are. Morals I get a little hung up on.
SYDNEY: But yet the trappings of superstardom, they haven't touched you one bit.
PITT: You know, traps, traps ... it's a mine field basically.
SYDNEY: And do you try to dodge it every which way you can?
PITT: No, I just try to walk through it and not get hit.
SYDNEY: You're you comfortable sitting here doing interviews?
PITT: I'm alright.
SYDNEY: The name of your new film is "Meet Joe Black." If it was "Meet Brad Pitt" what would it be about?
PITT: Geez, hell if I know ... work in progress, still trying to figure it out myself.
Pitt in "Meet Joe Black"
SYDNEY: Martin Brest said he was sure that you have a lock on the Academy Award nomination.
PITT: Oh, that's silly, but that is really sweet.
SYDNEY: But critical Brad Pitt, I read that you really didn't think that this was your best performance.
PITT: Oh, no. Listen, sometimes people have to find angles and things get stretched out a little more. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist and I could say that about every one of them. Always, there's something you get up and I would love a second shot at it. But that is all it ever is. But yeah, I think it is a lovely movie.
SYDNEY: A lot of messages were beautiful in this and I know that you choose your films from your own gut reactions. At first you weren't going to do the film, but after you read the script you decided "This is good one." What was the message, what made you want to do this one?
PITT: Listen, I can be a cynic at times but at the end of the day, these beautiful thoughts on love and family that I actually hold high. It's all in the movie. I don't want to make too much of it, but it is all in the movie.
SYDNEY: Now I am not here to talk about your personal life and I know that you don't like to talk about your personal life, but during the making of this film was when your relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow did break up. Do you think your personal life had anything to do with your professional life?
PITT: Well there's no way that whatever you are going through at the time -- you know what, it bleeds into the performance, it colors the performance. That's all, that's good stuff.
SYDNEY: I had read that your favorite line in this film is ... "You do the best you can and if you're lucky, you take some perfect pictures with you."
PITT: In the film it is coming from the Easter character and she is just saying basically, "Listen, the daily grind is tough, you're thrown things but they are there for a reason, and every now and then you have these perfect moments that remind you of how great, how fulfilling and wonderful things are and it gets you to the next." And that's what it is about, not the happily ever after kind of things.
SYDNEY: I know you majored in journalism. I know you are not going to like this question, but your gonna understand and have empathy that I have to ask it.
SYDNEY: What is with you and Jennifer Aniston?
PITT: Um, I can't ... I can't help you on that one.

From Correspondent Laurin Sydney
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