Brad Pitt Talks Fatherhood, Therapy and Painful Divorce: 12 Revelations From His First Post-Split Interview

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Brad Pitt is opening up about his divorce, his career and how he hopes to be a better father in an emotional new interview.

The 53-year-old actor speaks with GQ Style in his first sit-down interview since his tumultuous split from Angelina Jolie in September 2016.

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In a brutally honest and self-reflective chat at his home in the Hollywood Hills, where he used to live with his ex and their six children, the embattled star hides nothing when it comes to his role in his second failed marriage and the multitude of ways in which he hopes to become a better dad.

Here are 12 fascinating things Pitt reveals about his life, as he struggles to rebuild.

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1. He's in therapy and he's enjoying it.

"You know, I just started therapy. I love it, I love it. I went through two therapists to get to the right one," Pitt explains, adding that he likely would have sought treatment eventually, even if things had turned out differently between him and Jolie. "I think it would have come knocking, no matter what."

2. After the split, he had to get away.

The Oscar winner said that, for some time following his split, the family home simply held too many memories of good times with his family for him to stay there.

"It was too sad to be here at first," Pitt admits. "So I went and stayed on a friend's floor [in] a little bungalow in Santa Monica."

Now he's back, and he's spending his alone time with his bulldog, Jacques.

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3. He's aware of his own limitations when it comes to expressing himself.

"Any of my foibles are born from my own hubris. Always, always. Anytime. I famously step in s**t -- at least for me it seems pretty epic. I often wind up with a smelly foot in my mouth," Pitt explains. "I often say the wrong thing, often in the wrong place and time. Often."

The star says he's "better speaking in some other art form," such as filmmaking and acting, but stresses that he's "trying to get better."

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4. He's spent years drinking and smoking pot, and he's finally done.

"I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something," Pitt recalls. "And you realize that a lot of it is… you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings. I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that."

Pitt says that, back in the day, he could "drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good."

But now that he's replaced alcohol with "cranberry juice and fizzy water," Pitt explains that one simple thought has given him the clarity he needs to quit drinking: "[I] don’t want to live that way anymore."

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5. He admits his own role as an antagonizing force in his life, and regrets his past flaws.

"For me this period has really been about looking at my weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street," he shares. "I’m an a**hole when it comes to this need for justice. I don’t know where it comes from, this hollow quest for justice for some perceived slight. I can drill on that for days and years. It’s done me no good whatsoever."

"It’s such a silly idea, the idea that the world is fair, and this is coming from a guy who hit the lottery, I’m well aware of that," he continues. "I hit the lottery, and I still would
waste my time on those hollow pursuits."

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6. He's filling the void with sculpting.

Pitt says that he's taken to sculpting at his friend's art studio in an effort to work through the chaos of his life and to help him focus his mind and his energies.

"If I’m not creating something, doing something, putting it out there, then I’ll just be creating scenarios of fiery demise in my mind," Pitt notes. "I’m making everything. I’m working with clay, plaster, rebar, wood. Just trying to learn the materials. You know, I surprise myself. But it’s a very, very lonely occupation."

7. He knows what he needs to do to be a better father, and wants to work at it.

During this tumultuous time, Pitt explains that he's always interested in putting his family first, above the drama, the pain and his own career.

"People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets," he shares. "I say that as someone who’s let the work take me away."

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"Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I’m not hearing. I want to be better at that," he continues.

He also wants to get away from the old school parenting mentality by which he was raised, and become a more progressive father and role model.

"I grew up with a father-knows-best/war mentality -- the father is all-powerful, super strong -- instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles," Pitt shares. "And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it."

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8. Despite the animosity, he and his ex are working hard to make things go smoothly for their kids.

"I was really on my back and chained to a system when Child Services was called. And you know, after that, we’ve been able to work together to sort this out. We’re both doing our best," Pitt says.

He went on to lament how divorce has a way of dredging up the worst parts of people's pasts to turn them against each other for short-term gain, while it's ultimately devastating for the family as a whole.

"I heard one lawyer say, 'No one wins in court -- it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.' And it seems to be true. You spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you're right and why they're wrong, and it's just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse. And fortunately my partner in this agrees."

"I see it happen to friends -- I see where the one spouse literally can’t tell their own part in it, and is still competing with the other in some way and wants to destroy them and needs vindication by destruction, and just wasting years on that hatred," Pitt shares. "I don’t want to live that way."

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9. He knows how hard the this been on their kids, and he wants to shield them from the worst of it.

"It’s just very, very jarring for the kids, to suddenly have their family ripped apart," Pitt admits. "Our focus is that everyone comes out stronger and better people -- there is no other outcome."

The actor also says that the worst part of having his marital strife play out in the public eye is the effect it has on his children, and their perceptions of their parents and themselves.

"It is a drag to have certain things drug out in public and misconstrued," he says. "I worry about it more for my kids, being subjected to it, and their friends getting ideas from it."

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10. Divorce has given him clarity when it comes to the nature of love and relationships.

Pitt confesses that his first urge after the split was to "cling on" to the relationship he had with Jolie. But then he came to appreciate the old saying, "If you love someone, set them free."

"Now I know what it means, by feeling it. It means to love without ownership. It means expecting nothing in return," he notes. "It sounds good written. It sounds good when Sting sings it. [But] it doesn’t mean f**k-all to me until… you live it."

Ryan McGinley exclusively for GQ Style

11. He's drifting farther and farther away from his connection to acting.

"I don’t really think of myself much as an actor anymore. It takes up so little of my year and my focus," Pitt shares. "Film feels like a cheap pass for me, as a way to get at those hard feelings. It doesn't work anymore, especially being a dad."

However, he says there are still some roles that excite him, but they tend to be indie projects more than big blockbusters. His interests are "more in comedic stuff, where you’re taking gambles."

The actor, who recently starred in the WWII thriller Allied and will soon be seen in the satirical military dramedy War Machine, says he can "turn out the hits over and over," but still feel unsatisfied.

"My favorite movie is the worst-performing film of anything I’ve done, The Assassination of Jesse James," he notes. "If I believe something is worthy, then I know it will be worthy in time to come."

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12. Despite the pain, he doesn't want to shirk his responsibilities to accept his faults.

"I know I’m just in the middle of this thing now and I’m not at the beginning of it or at the end of it… just smack-dab in the middle," Pitt explains. "I just don’t want to dodge any of it. I just want to stand there, shirt open, and take my hits and see."

Pitt's sit-down and cross-country photoshoot for GQ Style's summer issue hits stands in Los Angeles and New York on May 8, and is available nationwide May 16.

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