Starring in a multitude of big-budget blockbusters and film festival contenders, Brad Pitt has established quite a reputation for himself. However, there was a time when he wasn’t that big of a star. Apart from a brief role in Thelma & Louise, he starred in a slew of drama films in his younger years that have largely gone unnoticed by modern viewers.
Even after establishing his stardom, fans might have missed out on some of his films like Allied and By The Sea, which are largely overlooked. As Pitt prepares for Babylon, the upcoming project by Damien Chazelle, it’s a good time for fans to check out some of his more under-the-radar roles.
10 Killing Them Softly (2012) – Available On Netflix
Killing Them Softly is a great crime comedy with political commentary and mob tropes thrown in the mix. Brad Pitt stars as the enforcer Jackie Coogan, who is hired to restore order in the criminal economy after a mob-protected card game is robbed.
While Pitt is supported by talented actors like James Gandolfini and Ben Mendelsohn, the leading man shines with his own perfect control on deadpan humor. Darkly comic tones suit the actor, as is evident in Snatch and Inglourious Basterds. Similarly, Killing Them Softly offers him a chance to showcase his comedic prowess.
9 Voyage Of Time: Life’s Journey (2017) – Not Currently Available To Stream
The Terrence Malick documentary, Travel of Time, recounts the creation of the universe and the origin of life on Earth through photorealistic technology and digital imagery. In terms of its scale and aesthetics, it is comparable to The Tree of Life, an experimental drama that is considered to be one of Terence Malick’s best movies.
Brad Pitt not only produced this documentary but also served as its narrator. His calming voice acts as the perfect companion to Malick’s visually rich journey through space and time.
8 Kalifornia (1993) – Available On Hoopla
An underrated road thriller, California revolves around a journalist investigating and researching serial killings. His quest leads him to a parolee and his developmentally-delayed girlfriend, the couple played by Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. What follows is a dark and violent journey that falls into both arthouse and violent exploitation territory.
At the time of its release, California received mixed reviews, but the general consensus towards Pitt’s and Lewis’s performance was largely positive. The film makes for an interesting watch, as Pitt’s Early Grayce adds a human touch to familiar serial killer tropes.
7 By The Sea (2015) – Available On Netflix
Shot during the two actors’ honeymoon, By The Sea stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a couple who are struggling to repair their marriage. As they spend time in a French hotel, they reflect on their past decisions.
Given that its stars were actually married at the time of filming, the intense and heartwarming couple drama feels increasingly raw and real in scenes. Jolie also helmed the direction, focusing on some stunning visual locations. By The Sea might not have fared well with the critics, but it is worth a watch for those who shipped “Brangelina.” This was their second film together, following the action-comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
6 Cool World (1992) – Available On Prime Video
Cool World follows the same approach as Who Framed Roger Rabbit as it is a film that blends live-action and animated formats. The fantasy comedy focuses on a cartoonist who enters his own made-up world of characters. Trouble ensues when a comic-book vamp seduces him and wishes to be real.
Even though the film flopped at the box office, Cool World is somewhat considered a cult classic by a few modern-day fans. It also functions as an effective showcase of Brad Pitt’s youthfulness, as he plays a charming police detective who is intent on capturing the film’s antagonist.
5 The Devil’s Own (1997) – Available On DIRECTV
Legendary director Alan J. Pakula’s last feature film, The Devil’s Own, finds Brad Pitt sharing screen space with Harrison Ford. The plot revolves around an IRA member who arrives in America for an arms deal. However, in his journey, he encounters an Irish-American policeman with whom he shares a close bond. Loyalties are tested as Pitt’s protagonist goes through a moral dilemma.
The Devil’s Own is bolstered by Pitt and Ford’s on-screen chemistry. Another reason to check out the film is its nuanced exploration of violence and the morality behind it. However, in its time, The Devil’s Own couldn’t garner the popularity of Pakula’s other films.
4 Allied (2016) – Available On Vudu
A World War thriller movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, Allied features Brad Pitt as a Canadian intelligence officer and Marion Cotillard as a French Resistance fighter. As the two characters pretend to be a married couple on a mission, they end up falling in love.
Despite its grand budget, Allied was a box-office dud and that might explain its lack of popularity when it comes to Pitt’s filmography. But it still deserves a second chance and can be viewed as a stylish period piece. In the late 2010s, Pitt was mostly focusing on hardline dramas, so a slight tinge of romance served as a breath of fresh air.
3 Cutting Class (1989) – Available On Showtime, Fubo & DIRECTV
One of Pitt’s earliest films, Cutting Class was a teen romance disguised as a slasher. The central theme in the film is a series of student disappearances terrorizing a high school. An extremely young Brad Pitt appears as a high-school rebel who is also the heroine’s boyfriend.
By no means is Cutting Class a masterpiece. Drawing mostly negative reviews, the film is a largely forgotten chapter of the actor’s filmography. At the same time, it is this film that offered an early glimpse at the star’s future potential. As the rebellious teenager Dwight, this impressive Brad Pitt performance showed his dashing persona and his ability to outshine his co-stars.
2 A River Runs Through It (1992) – Available On DIRECTV
Covering the First World War and the Prohibition era, A River Runs Through It is a drama about the family of a Presbyterian minister and his two sons. While the brothers share a common love for fishing, they lead drastically different lives. Brad Pitt plays Paul, the son who resorts to gambling, while Craig Sheffer plays the ideal brother who is a respectable professor.
The clash of ideas adds to the drama and A River Runs Through It becomes another one of the memorable films that actor Robert Redford directed. What makes the film worth revisiting is to see how far Redford and Pitt have come as they starred against each other in the 2001 thriller, Spy Game.
1 The Dark Side Of The Sun (1998) – Hoopla
While Brad Pitt’s films are popular, his cinematic debut is very rarely talked about. The Dark Side of the Sun is a direct-to-DVD drama delving into the life of a man who struggles with a rare skin disease that prevents him from getting exposed to sunlight. As he desperately searches for a cure, he also yearns to feel the sun for a change.
The film’s unique storyline is amusing although the low budget makes it one of Brad Pitt’s weaker films. Regardless, it is a must-watch for the very fact that this was his first-ever film role. It is also interesting to note that he was paid just over $1,500 for the lead role, as reported by Total Montenegro News. But now, the tables have clearly turned in his favor.
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