Don’t be fooled by Brad Pitt’s skincare, skirts and smiles


 

Jonny Mahon-Heap is a culture writer and ex-PR professional.

OPINION: Brad Pitt may be the original Hollywood heartthrob – but the star’s bright light has started to dim of late.

That is, until his PR team gave him an award-winning makeover.

Brad Pitt waves upon arrival at the premiere of 'Blonde', produced by his production company, Plan B.

Joel C Ryan

Brad Pitt waves upon arrival at the premiere of ‘Blonde’, produced by his production company, Plan B.

Pitt’s revamped red carpet wardrobe, and his newly unveiled Le Domaine skincare line, are the latest in a series of manoeuvres by Pitt’s creative team to rehabilitate his image – in a manner consistent with Hollywood’s rehabilitation of other embattled male stars, including Shia LaBoeuf, Johnny Depp, and Casey Affleck.

The Hollywood comeback cycle doesn’t waste a second in manufacturing a redemption – the plan to paper over their transgressions with stunt media tactics and a smoothly orchestrated return to the limelight – it’s transparent and depressing and, well, highly effective.

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But is Pitt’s new zest for colourful fabrics and retinol really a style revolution, or is it a rug-pull designed to make us care more about his new moisturiser than his misbehaviour?

In this week’s glowing Vogue interview with Pitt detailing Le Domaine, the “genderless” skincare line with $800 serums, he muses on the creative potential of the brand – how it makes him feel “like the old Renaissance artists in a way.” (“What’s your regimen?” Vogue asks. Pitt balks: “I’m not doing that!”)

But it’s no coincidence Pitt unveiled Le Domaine swiftly after newly public FBI records were released detailing ex-wife Angelina Jolie’s allegations of a 2016 altercation with Pitt on their private plane.

It’s been six years since Pitt and Jolie divorced, and the bitter disputes are ongoing.

Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

It’s been six years since Pitt and Jolie divorced, and the bitter disputes are ongoing.

The couple, who share six children, have been embroiled in several bitter legal disputes, but have never publicly addressed what happened in the 2016 incident, which involved their then 15-year-old son, Maddox.

In the notes of the FBI special agent who reported on the dispute, Pitt was drinking and berating Jolie, saying things like “You’re f…ing up this family” while their children were onboard. She said he poured beer on her, grabbed her, shook her, and left wounds on her back and elbow.

 

When Jolie asked her then partner of 12 years what was wrong, she alleged he responded, referring to Maddox, known for his goth-like fashion, “That kid looks like a “f…ing Columbine kid.”

While the acrimony between the couple wages on, Pitt was taking to red carpets worldwide, showing off playful linen looks for his new action-comedy Bullet Train.

Then, he popped up in a Finland art gallery for a surprise display of his sculptural works – symbolically violent ceramic pieces he crafted while shooting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Next came the overwhelming media obsession with his looks – The Cut ranked his 2022 red carpet outfits, Vogue penned “An Ode to Brad Pitt’s New Style Era”, and GQ featured him in glowing cover stories – twice.

The latter, written by My Year of Rest and Relaxation novelist Ottessa Moshfegh, is a breathless and slightly barmy cover story, in which the acclaimed author described Pitt as, not only “affable”, “charming”, but “psychic” and “having a Buddhist style of detachment.”

Brad Pitt, Hollywood heartthrob and skincare influencer.

Getty Images

Brad Pitt, Hollywood heartthrob and skincare influencer.

2022 is set to be a big year for Pitt – he’s fresh from the Cannes Film Festival where he promoted Blonde, and next up is Hollywood epic Babylon, directed by La La Land’s Damien Chazelle, co-starring Margot Robbie.

The path to redemption shines bright and clear, as though he had never strayed off course.

The moves of his PR team are engineered to not only distract us from the legal troubles, but also convince us they don’t really matter: mining nostalgic sympathy by doubling down on the star power and reminding us of Pitt’s brand appeal as magazines, directors, and co-stars all appear to tacitly endorse the actor.

In his film Killing Them Softly, Pitt plays a weary hit man, who in one scene sums up his world view: “In America, everyone is on their own – it’s not a country, just a business.”

And in America, or everywhere it seems, the business of Brad Pitt is still booming.

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