Everyone Struggles

The new Brad Pitt movie Ad Astra that comes out in a few weeks looks like it has potential:

Pitt talked with Kyle Buchanan at the New York Times for a piece that came out this week about the movie, working with the director of the film, and his personal life.

You never really know what to believe when a mega movie star talks about their personal life because they have to be very careful about what they say. This is especially true in the social media age where every quote is immediately dissected.

But Pitt was refreshingly candid in this interview. He discussed what his personal life was like while filming Ad Astra, which coincided with his divorce from Angelina Jolie:

When I asked Pitt about that period of time in his life, he at first curtailed the inquiry. “I had family stuff going on,” he said. “We’ll leave it at that.”

Was “Ad Astra” a way to work through some of the loneliness he may have been experiencing? “The fact is, we all carry pain, grief and loss,” he said. “We spend most of our time hiding it, but it’s there, it’s in you. So you open up those boxes.”

It was reported that the final straw in Pitt’s 11-year relationship with Jolie came in September 2016, when they fought about his drinking while aboard a private plane. Now, Pitt is committed to his sobriety. “I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges,” he told me. After she filed for divorce, Pitt spent a year and a half in Alcoholics Anonymous.

The story also hit on how his massive rise to stardom in the 1990s wasn’t as great as it may have seemed from outside appearances:

Everything he did then was scrutinized: His hits, his misses, his hair, his body and especially his romances — among them, an engagement to Gwyneth Paltrow and marriage to Jennifer Aniston. His life, he told me, wasn’t simply “the lottery it appeared from the outside.” It got to the point that he could no longer tell his own feelings and wants apart from the ones impressed upon him by others.

Here’s perhaps the biggest movie star of my lifetime1 talking openly about how imperfect his life is. I can’t tell if Pitt’s story is a sign of hope or a sign of despair for the rest of us non-movie stars.

On the one hand, this shows that even becoming one of the most beloved famous people on the planet doesn’t guarantee your life will be any easier than anyone else’s in certain respects. On the other hand, this shows everyone struggles with certain aspects of their life.

No one has a perfect life.

Coming to this understanding may be helpful to some people because it frees them up from striving to make everything perfect all the time since that’s an unrealistic goal. I know people like this. They try to portray the perfect life on social media, to their friends and family, and in the workplace.

Keeping up that front has to be emotionally draining because everyone has their own struggles or inner demons.

This week Bill Hader talked about dealing with crippling anxiety for most of his life:

The realization that helped get him through the anxiety was learning how to live with it instead of trying to bury it. Hader says he didn’t truly figure out how to deal with it effectively until he was 37.

There are plenty of feel-good stories about people starting a business later in life or becoming successful in a new career endeavor. I like the fact that Pitt and Hader opened up about their struggles and how they faced them head-on later in life.

No one ever has life all figured out. There’s always time to learn new ways of dealing with whatever you’re struggling with.

And everyone struggles with something.

The Planets, The Stars and Brad Pitt (NY Times)

Further Reading:
You Never Know

Now here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

1And when I say movie star I don’t mean in terms of acting ability. I mean star power. You could probably add Cruise, Clooney and DiCaprio to this list in terms of star wattage over the past 30 years or so.

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