Brad Pitt on What He Learned Working With Anthony Hopkins

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Brad Pitt on Improv

“If it’s real for you, it’s going to be real, because the camera reads that.” – Brad Pitt

One might not initially think of Brad Pitt and Adam Sandler in the same sentence (except that Sandler has made two movies with Jennifer Aniston and Pitt was once married to Aniston), but the unlikely duo recently had a conversation about their recent career successes (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for Pitt and Uncut Gems for Sandler) for Variety. At one point, Pitt spoke to Sandler about the improv nature of comedy and remarked on how similar it was when he watched Sir Anthony Hopkins during one of their films together.

Pitt made two movies with Hopkins, 1994’s Legends of the Fall and 1998’s Meet Joe Black, and he recalls observing how Hopkins completely changed his approach to a scene in less than a minute. He recalls, “I once saw Tony Hopkins, we were doing — this was mid-’90s — something, and the scene wasn’t working for him. He turned his back to us all for about 30 seconds, turned back around and he did it. He just came in; it was a completely different tone. The words were the same, and it was glorious. I’ve always made a point since then to keep trying to mess up the intention of the scene. That’s what I drew from. Whenever I see comedy guys riffing like that, it’s always fresh.”

Reflecting on that almost-improvisational approach, Pitt adds, “That’s always my argument. If it’s real for you, it’s going to be real, because the camera reads that.”

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