Terrence Malick’s new drama “The Tree of Life” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and resulted in an open discussion about faith and the delicate nature of life from its star Brad Pitt.
“I grew up with Christianity,” says Pitt, who grew up Southern Baptist in the Midwest. “Some things worked for me and some things didn’t.”
Pitt says he felt a very personal connection to his character in this film. “I grew up being told that ‘God is going to take care of everything and it doesn’t always work out that way; and if it doesn’t, that’s God’s will.’ I’ve got my issues,” he admits. “Many people find religion gives them opportunities. I found it very stifling as an individual and a tightness to it that the father character carried with him.”
“The best moments were not preconceived,” says Pitt, who has nothing but respect for Malick’s lose, improvisational approach to directing, going so far as to compare the director’s style to carrying a butterfly net and capturing performances. “I’ve tried to go more in that direction,” says Pitt, “Making an intense study when you go into it, but then let it go where it takes you.”
While the finished product wasn’t always clear during filming, Pitt says, “It’s a leap of faith, and that’s the point.” The actor says he feels a pull toward this sort of film’s genre lately, “Like the film itself, you want to discover, you want to find something new, and that’s been my focus. About 10 years ago, I started thinking about my favorite films, and they weren’t the big commercial things; they had more depth and they were asking a lot of the big questions.”