“Legends of the Fall” director Ed Zwick reveals in his new memoir that Brad Pitt would become “volatile when riled” on the set of the 1994 Western film.
“It fell to [producer] Marshall [Herskovitz] to talk Brad off the ledge,” Zwick writes in “Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood” (as excerpted by Vanity Fair).
“It was the first augury of the deeper springs of emotion roiling inside Brad. He seems easygoing at first, but he can be volatile when riled, as I was to be reminded more than once as shooting began and we took each other’s measure.”
Zwick, who has directed other films such as “Blood Diamond” and “The Last Samurai,” admitted that his relationship with Pitt would become strained because he “would get edgy whenever he was about to shoot a scene that required him to display deep emotion.”
The famed director said he’d try to push the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” star past his comfort zone because he had grown up with men in the Ozarks “who held their emotions in check” and he wanted the character to really feel.
“Yet the more I pushed Brad to reveal himself, the more he resisted,” Zwick, 71, writes. “So, I kept pushing and Brad pushed back.”
The director-actor’s tense relationship came to a head one day when Zwick had given Pitt, now 60, a direction in front of the crew, which he now admits was a “a stupid, shaming provocation” that led to a chair being thrown.
“Brad came back at me, also out loud, telling me to back off,” Zwick writes. “… I was angry at Brad for not trusting me to influence his performance. Also for the reluctance he’d shown after the first table read. … But Brad wasn’t about to give in without a fight.
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“In his defense, I was pushing him to do something he felt was either wrong for the character, or more ’emo’ than he wanted to appear onscreen,” he recalls.”I don’t know who yelled first, who swore, or who threw the first chair. Me, maybe? But when we looked up, the crew had disappeared.”
The “Love & Other Drugs” director admitted that he and Pitt frequently had “blowups” but would always “make up and mean it.”
He also emphasizes in his novel that despite their dustups, Pitt “is a forthright, straightforward person, fun to be with and capable of great joy. He was never anything less than fully committed to doing his best.”
A rep for Pitt didn’t immediately return Page Six’s request for comment.
“Legends of the Fall” was based on author Jim Harrison’s novella and featured Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond and Henry Thomas. The epic followed a father and his three sons as they lived remotely on the plains of Montana in the early 20th century.
The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won for cinematography.