William Bradley Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to William Alvin Pitt, who ran a trucking company, and Jane Etta (née Hillhouse), a school counselor. The family soon moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he lived together with his younger siblings, Douglas (born 1966) and Julie Neal (born 1969). Born into a conservative household, he was raised as Southern Baptist, but has since stated that he does not "have a great relationship with religion" and that he "oscillates between agnosticism and atheism."
Pitt attended Kickapoo High School, where he was a member of the golf, swimming and tennis teams. He participated in the school's Key and Forensics clubs, in school debates, and in musicals. Following his graduation from high school, Pitt enrolled in the University of Missouri in 1982, majoring in journalism with a focus on advertising. As graduation approached, Pitt did not feel ready to settle down. He loved films—"a portal into different worlds for me"—and, since films were not made in Missouri, Pitt left the university, only two weeks before earning his degree, and moved to Los Angeles, where he took acting lessons and worked odd jobs, including dancing in a chicken suit to draw in customers at an El Pollo Loco restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
While struggling to establish himself in Los Angeles, Pitt took lessons from acting coach Roy London. Pitt's acting career began in 1987, with uncredited parts in the films No Way Out, No Man's Land and Less Than Zero. His television debut came in May 1987 with a two-episode role on the NBC soap opera Another World. In November of the same year, Pitt had a guest appearance on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains, and appeared in four episodes of the CBS primetime series Dallas between December 1987 and February 1988. Later in 1988, Pitt made a guest appearance on the Fox police drama 21 Jump Street, and in the same year, the Yugoslavian–U.S. co-production The Dark Side of the Sun (1988) gave Pitt his first leading film role, as a young American taken by his family to the Adriatic Sea to find a remedy for a skin condition. However, the film was shelved at the outbreak of the Croatian War of Independence, and was not released until 1997.
After years of supporting roles in film and frequent television guest appearances, Pitt attracted wider recognition as a cowboy hitchhiker in the road movie Thelma & Louise (1991). His first leading roles in big-budget productions came with the dramas A River Runs Through It (1992) and Legends of the Fall (1994), and Interview with the Vampire (1994). He gave critically acclaimed performances in the crime thriller Seven and the science fiction film 12 Monkeys (both 1995), the latter earning him a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination. Pitt then starred in the cult film Fight Club (1999) and the major international hit Ocean's Eleven (2001) and its sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). His greatest commercial successes have been Troy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), and World War Z (2013). Pitt received his second and third Academy Award nominations for his leading performances in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011). He produced The Departed (2006) and 12 Years a Slave (2013), both of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and also The Tree of Life (2011), Moneyball, and The Big Short (2015), all of which garnered Best Picture nominations. He is currently serving as an executive producer for the drama anthology series, Feud, under his production company, Plan B Entertainment.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pitt was involved in successive relationships with several of his co-stars, including Robin Givens (Head of the Class), Jill Schoelen (Cutting Class), and Juliette Lewis (Too Young to Die? and Kalifornia). In addition, Pitt had a much-publicized romance and engagement to his Seven co-star Gwyneth Paltrow, whom he dated from 1994 to 1997.
Pitt met Friends actress Jennifer Aniston in 1998 and married her in a private wedding ceremony, costing over a million dollars, in Malibu on July 29, 2000. In November 2001, the pair founded their own production company called Plan B Entertainment. For years their marriage was considered a rare Hollywood success; however, in January 2005, Pitt and Aniston announced they had decided to separate. Two months later, Aniston filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Pitt and Aniston's divorce was finalized by the Los Angeles Superior Court on October 2, 2005, leaving Pitt as the sole owner of Plan B.
During Pitt's divorce proceedings, his involvement with his Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie attracted media attention. While Pitt stated that there was no infidelity, he also stated that he "fell in love" with Jolie on the set. In April 2005, one month after Aniston filed for divorce, a set of paparazzi photographs emerged showing Pitt, Jolie, and her son Maddox at a beach in Kenya. During 2005, the two were seen together with increasing frequency, and the entertainment media dubbed the couple "Brangelina". On January 11, 2006, Jolie confirmed to People magazine that she was pregnant with Pitt's child, thereby publicly acknowledging their relationship for the first time. Pitt and Jolie announced their engagement in April 2012 after seven years together. They were married on August 23, 2014, in a private ceremony in Château Miraval, France. On September 19, 2016, Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt, citing irreconcilable differences. Pitt and Jolie have six children together, including two sons and a daughter who were adopted.
- His high school nickname was Brad the "Pitt-bull".
- He has his teeth capped.
- He has a Single Engine Land pilot license.
- He has a profound interest in architecture, and even did an informal apprenticeship for renowned architect Frank Gehry.
- He was trained to handle weapons by renowned Hollywood gun coach Thell Reed.
- He donated 5 million dollars of his own money to rebuild homes in New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
- In 1995, he was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#23).
- In 1996, he was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.
- He is the first man ever to be named "Sexiest Man Alive" twice by People magazine (1994 and 2000).
- The longest he has gone without an Oscar nomination is 13 years, between Twelve Monkeys (1995) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
- at the