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[Interview] – Brad Pitt on ‘Fury’

 

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Posted January 10, 2015 by

 
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Often looming large in the cinematic sphere is Golden Globe winner Brad Pitt, whose most recent film Fury dresses the handsome chap in World War Two apparel and sees him combat the Germans for the second time since Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2008).

This categorically hardnosed action drama follows a tight-knit crew of American Sherman tank combatants during the end of the conflict, as the allied troops advance throughout Germany.

David Ayer’s World War Two tank drama closed the 58th BFI London Film Festival where we spoke to Pitt about his role as Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier and the hardships of taking on a project as physically, emotionally and technically demanding as Fury.

Playing a character wrapped-up in the travesties of war carries a certain weight to it. To successfully translate that poignancy on screen, Pitt had to tap into the mindset of what it must have been like, all the while trying to remain respectful to the memory of the troops who are represented here. “I got endless emails at three in the morning, a barrage of backstory that never makes the film but certainly informs the character,” reveals Pitt. “Talking to any of the veterans, they constantly painted this picture of the exhaustion, the fatigue, the mental fatigue, the cold, the hunger, the accumulative effect of seeing trauma and horror and inflicting horror on a daily basis,” added Pitt on becoming Wardaddy. Although there are parallels, albeit limited, between Basterd’s Lt. Aldo Raine and the patriotic yet anguished soul he plays here, “they’re different animals,” insists the actor.

Pitt was very enthusiastic about throwing himself into such a grueling adventure, attaching to Ayer’s script quite early on, thus securing his place as the spearhead of a brotherhood and all the burdens that come with it. “You’ve got to understand when the film starts, we’ve been together for three and a half years and we’ve just lost our fifth member of our family. At that point, a new kid comes in (Norman played by Logan Lerman). The survival rate of a tank crew was not so good and at that point, they had to pull people off the lines with no experience and throw them in the tanks. We had to harden him [Norman] very quickly and get him to function or we may not be going home.” Roughening the new recruit, who’s completely unversed in warfare, not only provides plot momentum but also gives birth to one of the film’s best scenes, as Wardaddy’s duty to his men collides head-on with Norman’s refusal to shoot a German soldier.

Fury’s camerawork finely relays the overwhelming sense of the comrades’ claustrophobia, as they’re so often confined to the limits of the tank’s interior. Although modeled after the Sherman tank and fully functional in way of its weaponry, the set was up-scaled by 10 percent to allow a fraction more breathing space; but even so, the logistics of filming in such a constricted area was not an easy undertaking. “There’s nothing ergonomical about a tank,” asserts Pitt. “It’s not made for habitation in any way. There are no steps to get up it or down it. You get inside, the turret rings and if you’ve got an appendage out, it’s likely to be taken right off. You can lose your fingers bringing the lid down; you’re always getting banged up on something.”

We certainly get an idea of how awkward it must have been in the tank, but was there anything enjoyable filming in what could be considered as one the most complex sets anyone has ever worked on? “Well, there came this point as we were forced to familiarise ourselves with the tank where we all found our little comfort spots. We became quite proprietary over our tank. It was our home. You think of the real guys who lived in it, they’d literally eat, sleep, crap, fight, all of it inside the confines of this tin can.” Pitt continued by saying that, despite the difficulties, he had in fact become quite fond of the tank. Between sets, Pitt would often remain in the “tin can” instead of retreating to the luxuries of his trailer. It was like his eagle nest; he would gaze down upon the crew working and he was able to stay in character that way.

When asked if he could imagine being capable of going to war and killing to survive, Pitt spoke of “the warrior within all of us” and said that he hoped “soldiers who served in WWII would feel respectfully recognised” by the film. “It’s an amazing fact of human nature that one year we can be chopping each other up, the next we can be sharing a pint. We continually devolve into conflict, no matter how much we evolve,” Pitt adds.

Pitt was shooting Fury at the same time as his wife, Angelina Jolie, was directing WWII exploit Unbroken. “We don’t usually work at the same time but we had got our schedules mixed up. I was studying the European theatre, whilst she was studying the Pacific theatre. I was studying tanks, whilst she was studying bombers. But it was good fun for us. Fury deals with the psychic damage of the soldier [and boy, does it]. Whereas her film focuses on the triumph of the human spirit against horrific odds.”

Brad Pitt is on career-best form, playing a hardened tank commander who’s humanised by the travesties of war. Co-starring Shia LeBeouf, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman and Michael Pena, Fury is released on DVD and Blu-Ray February 23rd 2015.

 

 

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Anthony Lowery
@TonyGLowery
anthonylowery.co.uk
moviematrix.co.uk
Freelance Contributor

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