An A-lister among A-listers with two Oscars to his name, Brad Pitt’s Hollywood legacy needs no introduction. Yet as many actors can attest, spending so many decades in the spotlight can take a heavy toll, especially when addiction is involved. In the last five years, following his high-profile split from superstar Angelina Jolie, Pitt has opened up about his struggles with alcoholism and relatedly, his mental health. Now sober, he recently shared how he turned his life around since his bombshell divorce in 2017, and credited one mega-celebrity friend with helping him overcome his addiction. Read on to learn who helped Pitt get sober, and how he’s working to become a better man.
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Following the announcement of his split from Jolie in 2017, Pitt opened up about his struggles with addiction. “I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something,” the Fight Club star told GQ at the time. While Pitt notes that he quit hard drugs when he became a father, he admitted that alcohol became an increasingly troubling crutch. “Truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good.”
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At the time of the GQ interview, Pitt was six months sober and keen to reflect on what brought him to what was, by all appearances, his rock bottom (a 2016 incident on an airplane after which child services was called and Jolie filed for divorce).
Pitt acknowledged that leading up to the highly publicized fight on the plane, drinking provided a way of “running from feelings.” And, he said, after several months of sobriety, he was ready to start facing them. “I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny [your feelings] all of your life or you answer them and evolve,” the Moneyball actor told GQ.
“The fact is, we all carry pain, grief and loss,” he later added while speaking with The New York Times. “We spend most of our time hiding it, but it’s there, it’s in you. So you open up those boxes.”
In Jan. 2020, Pitt shared a detail about his journey to sobriety that surprised fans. While accepting an award at the annual gala for the National Board of Review, Pitt credited Silver Linings Playbook star Bradley Cooper with helping him address his addiction issues.
After Cooper introduced his friend and fellow actor, Pitt hugged him warmly and took to the podium. “Thank you, Bradley,” he said, gesturing to his friend, now offstage. “Bradley just put his daughter to bed and then rushed over to do this—he’s a sweetheart,” said Pitt. “I got sober because of this guy and every day has been happier since,” he added, to a round of applause.
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Pitt has shared that quitting alcohol lifted a weight off of his life: “I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that,” he told GQ. “I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again,” he added, seemingly referencing having developed alcoholic neuropathy from excessive drinking.
But for Pitt, the benefits go far beyond the physical. The Oceans Eleven star shared that he began therapy in 2017 as a way of “stripping down to the foundation”of his core issues.
These days, Pitt says he’s “sitting with those horrible feelings, and needing to understand them, and putting them into place. In the end, you find: I am those things I don’t like. That is a part of me. I can’t deny that. I have to accept that. And in fact, I have to embrace that. I need to face that and take care of that. Because by denying it, I deny myself. I am those mistakes. For me every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy. Yeah, the avoidance of pain is a real mistake. It’s the real missing out on life. It’s those very things that shape us, those very things that offer growth, that make the world a better place,” he said.