IT’S A PITT PARTY He went into battle with himself, as Brad Pitt turns 60, we reveal how the heart-throb turned his life around

The secret of Brad’s eternal youth and sex appeal is, according to friends, his new clean, uncomplicated life

But as he celebrates his milestone birthday tomorrow, Brad will congratulate himself less on his full head of hair, handsome features and ripped pecs – we all saw the photos of him shirtless on holiday in Mexico, back in January – and more on the man he’s become, following his ugly split from Angelina Jolie seven years ago.Brad Pitt is turning 60, and will congratulate himself on the man he’s become

Brad Pitt is turning 60, and will congratulate himself on the man he’s become

Brad with then-wife Angelina Jolie in 2009

Brad with then-wife Angelina Jolie in 2009. Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Brad with Jennifer Aniston in 1999

Brad with Jennifer Aniston in 1999. Credit: Dave Lewis/Shutterstock
After his alleged drunken, violent meltdown in front of his ex-wife and their six children on a private plane in 2016 shocked the celeb world, Brad has transformed his life.

He no longer drinks, having spent 18 months in a Los Angeles Alcoholics Anonymous group.

He’s also quit smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and has thrown himself into what he’s called “life-changing” therapy, in part down to advice from his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston.

For the past year, he has been in a relationship with fellow divorcée and Swiss businesswoman Ines de Ramon.

At 30, she is half his age, but friends say she is “relaxed, calm and happy to be there to support him and just have fun”.

“My goals in life,” Brad has said, “are now pretty simple – to be happy and to stay healthy. I got friends.

“I got lovely kids. I like my coffee. I like my dogs. I’ve got no complaints.”

In fact, Brad claims that, despite the ongoing issues with the three oldest children he shares with Angelina – which recently hit headlines after a 2020 Instagram post by Pax calling him a “f**king awful human being” resurfaced – he is more content now than ever before.

But the Brad Pitt story is a lesson in how the Hollywood dream can fast become a nightmare.

He was the open-hearted country boy who arrived in Hollywood with $325 to his name and, within a decade, became the biggest power player in town – at a cost to both his mental and physical health.

It’s a tribute to him that, after years of using drugs and alcohol to deal with the pressures of fame, he has finally confronted his issues. He says it himself: “Success is a beast.

It puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. You get away with more, instead of looking within. You must lose everything in order to gain anything.”

Born in Oklahoma, Brad was the eldest of three to blue-collar, devout Christian parents William and Jane.

At school he was bright, but a daydreamer, and in his late-teens he got into smoking marijuana with friends.

He dropped out of his journalism degree at the University of Missouri to take a chance on Hollywood.

The first time I met Brad, he was a million miles away from the international superstar he is today.

It was in 1988, in a bar in west London. He was dating the singer Sinitta, who’d had a hit the previous year with Toy Boy. At the time, he had a bit-part in the TV series Dallas.

He was extremely handsome in that effortless, Californian way. But he was more than happy to play second fiddle to his high-octane girlfriend.

Laid-back to the point of horizontal, and with no discernible sign of ego or ambition, I recall Brad talking more about carpentry than acting.

He told me: “You never know what’s going to happen in this business.

“There’s a lot of talented people who go nowhere – not a lot you can do apart from try to be a decent guy and do a decent job. I just try to keep it simple.”

The heart-throb making a name for himself in Thelma & Louise

The heart-throb making a name for himself in Thelma & Louise. Credit: LMKMEDIA

Brad alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in New York in 1997

Brad alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in New York in 1997. Credit: Mari Sarai/WireImage
The big Hollywood stars of the day were the super-macho Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford. I remember wondering how a guy like Brad Pitt was ever going to make it.

Three years later, in 1991, his major breakthrough came when he played the charming con-man JD in Thelma & Louise. It was a small part, but one that blew (female) audiences away.

His career rocketed, with lead roles in a series of huge box-office hits, including Seven and 12 Monkeys (for which he received his first Oscar nomination).

In 1994, he famously met America’s sweetheart, Friends star Jennifer Aniston, through their managers.

But it wasn’t until after his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow ended in 1997 that Tinseltown’s “It” couple was cemented, and in 2000 Brad and Jen married in a private ceremony in Malibu, with the Friends cast and Cameron Diaz in attendance.

Jennifer spoke of wanting to start a family, but by 2005 they announced they were splitting.

Hollywood was awash with rumours of Brad falling for his Mr & Mrs Smith co-star Angelia Jolie.

And within a matter of months, they were photographed together in Kenya with Angelina’s adopted son Maddox.

Jennifer said at the time in a Vanity Fair interview: “Brad is not mean-spirited; he would never intentionally try to rub something in my face. There’s a sensitivity chip that’s missing.”

Twenty years after I first interviewed Brad, I spoke to him again at the Venice Film Festival for his movie Burn After Reading.

Writers had been told not to ask about Angelina (they were now officially together after his 2005 divorce from Jennifer).

There was one moment when he laughed. It was when I asked him whether he still liked sawing wood. “Always,” he replied.

And how did he find fame? Long pause. “Comfortably uncomfortable, or maybe uncomfortably comfortable,” was his response.

A producer, who’s worked with Brad over the past three decades, says: “Brad openly admits the glory years were glorious for him on a lot of levels.

“He never stopped working, and he did good work – movies like Fight Club, The Tree Of Life, and the Ocean’s franchise. He got a lot of respect in Hollywood for being a good guy.

“He played everything right. You never saw anything but the good Brad. But he has opened up now about how he couldn’t deal with a lot of personal stuff.

“He self-medicated his way out of thinking.

“Then he got together with Angelina Jolie and they seemed like god’s perfect couple, but it went to the devil and all of a sudden there’s divorce papers and a very ugly portrait of Brad drinking, being violent, using cannabis, Child Services being called – this was nothing anyone knew.

“It pulled everyone up, but, to his credit, it pulled him up. He never really went to war on Angelina. He went into battle with himself. He’s a very different guy now.”

That incident in 2016 – on-board the Jolie-Pitts’ private plane – involved a fight between Brad and Angelina in which the actress claims he became violent and abusive to an extent that their kids were terrified (they share three adopted children Maddox, 22, Pax, 19, Zahara, 18, and three children of their own, Shiloh, 17, and 15-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox).

Angelina claimed in court papers that an inebriated Brad tried to choke one child, struck another in the face, and poured beer and wine on the kids who, terrified, hid under blankets.

“No one was more disgusted than Brad,” says the producer.

“That was it. It wasn’t about who was right, who was wrong, who you supported, who had the best lawyers. It was about getting his life in order and getting himself back.”

Jennifer, who’s a huge advocate of counselling, suggested therapy to her former husband. In the past, he had always refused to seek any form of help, but therapy has changed Brad.

He has spoken in interviews many times in the past year about how he has changed his life for the better.

As for alcohol, he has been sober for seven years. He told GQ: “I went to AA. I had a really cool men’s group here that was really private and selective, so it was safe.

“You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard.

“It was this safe space where there was little judgement, and therefore little judgement of yourself. It is actually really freeing just to expose the ugly sides of yourself. There’s great value in that.”

In terms of his day-to-day life, Brad no longer lives in the palatial, ultra-modern LA home he bought back in 1994.

Instead, he’s retreated 300 miles to the sleepy, coastal town of Carmel in northern California, having recently splashed out a reported $40million on a cliffside haven.

It’s an incredibly private place, which is ideal for surfing, hanging out round a fire and, for Brad, meditation.

“Brad is living a very simple life,” said his friend.

And while relationships are reportedly still strained with Maddox, Pax and Zahara – who gave her name as Zahara Jolie rather than Jolie-Pitt at an induction event at Spelman College in Atlanta last month – he still has shared custody of the three youngest children and is said to be on very close terms with Shiloh.

“He has learned to process what he goes through,” said his friend.

“He has always struggled with fame, with feelings of imposter syndrome and guilt. In the past, he would just use drink or cannabis as a numbing tool and as a way to suppress anger.”

He is trying to mend his relationship with Angelina, and has been seen out laughing and smiling with Jennifer Aniston.

And of course, it has been noted that, on the eve of his big 6-0, the actor is looking even younger, fitter and hotter than he did a decade ago.

While Hollywood surgeons claim he looks “remarkably untouched” for an LA actor, he has admitted to keeping up a tough fitness regime – weights, cardio, yoga and swimming – to stay fit and in shape.

The secret of his eternal youth and sex appeal (he’s been dubbed the real-life Benjamin Button) is, according to friends, his new clean, uncomplicated life.

“He’s taken stock of who he is on the inside.

“He’s faced his demons.

“He allows himself to do things he loves – working with wood or sculpting porcelain, working behind the camera with his film company, encouraging musicians with his record label and hanging out with friends and his dogs.

“He knew he had cracks, but he let in the light, and it suits him. Brad has never been better, been healthier or looked better.” Happy Birthday, Mr Pitt.

The father with Angelina and the kids in 2011

The father with Angelina and the kids in 2011. Credit: Splash News

The star having won an Oscar in 2020

The star having won an Oscar in 2020. Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

The Hollywood actor with former flame Sinitta in 1988