Brad Pitt Relives the ‘Fight Club’ World Premiere and Being Stoned As the Film Bombed

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" was all the rage at Cannes last year, which is the exact opposite of "Fight Club" at Venice in 1999.
Brad Pitt - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture - Once Upon a Time In... Hollywood77th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Jan 2020
Brad Pitt

It’s been quite an awards week for Brad Pitt. In addition to winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, the A-list actor also made memorable appearances at the New York Film Critics Circle awards (presenting his “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” writer-director Quentin Tarantino with the Best Screenplay prize) and the National Board of Review awards (picking up anther Best Supporting Actor prize). To top it all off, Pitt is expected to land an Oscar nomination Monday morning. Pitt’s “Hollywood” journey started with critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, which is exactly the opposite of his experience with “Fight Club” two decades ago.

As Pitt recently told his “Hollywood” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio and comedian Marc Maron on the “WTF” podcast, “Fight Club” world premiered at the 1999 Venice Film Festival to a confounding response. Making matters more memorable was the fact Pitt and his “Fight Club” actor Edward Norton were high on marijuana throughout the movie’s first screening. What happens when you’re stoned and the head of the Venice Film Festival walks out of your film? You just have to laugh, apparently.

“It was the Venice Film Festival and it was a midnight screening. For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to smoke a joint before,” Pitt told DiCaprio and Maron. “They put you up in a balcony next to the festival head, it’s very formal. The movie starts. First joke comes up, and it’s crickets. It’s dead silence. Another joke, and it’s just dead silent. You know it’s in subtitles, and this thing is just not translating at all. The more it happened, the funnier it got to Edward and I. So we just start laughing. We’re the assholes in the back laughing at our own jokes. The only ones laughing.”

Pitt continued, “At some point it gets to Helena Bonham Carter’s line when she says, ‘I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school,’ and I watched the festival guy who had been squirming the whole time get up and leave. He doesn’t say a word. He just gets up and leaves, which makes us laugh even more. We had a good time.”

“Fight Club” was not the first world premiere that Pitt sat through while audiences around him were baffled. Two years prior, Pitt and David Fincher unveiled their serial killer drama “Se7en” in New York City and the crowd’s reaction when the film ended was not what either of them were anticipating.

“The movie ended. The lights flick on. I look at people. They just slowly get up from their seats and no one is talking and they kind of disappear from the screening,” Pitt said. “I remember looking at Fincher and being like, ‘Oh my god, what the fuck did we do? What happened?’ I thought that shit was great!”

Pitt is currently the Oscar frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actor thanks to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” The actor received some of the strongest reviews of his career for “Hollywood” and James Gray’s space drama “Ad Astra,” both released in 2019. Next up for Pitt is a starring role in “Babylon,” a Hollywood drama from “Whiplash” and “La La Land” filmmaker Damian Chazelle. Production begins this summer.

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