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Michael Pitt: “Don’t give yourself an out”

June 22, 2011

Mr. Pitt, you seem to not like being interviewed.

(Smiles) Yeah, but sometimes you have to do it.

Are you hard on yourself?

I’m pretty hard on myself but it’s good to push yourself to try new things.

You took a glimpse at mainstream Hollywood but then went back to more art house productions. Why?

That didn’t interest me. I try to make movies that people would like to own, movies that they want to put on their shelves. I try to make movies that are different. I try to make movies where it is an event to see, not mindless entertainment to help you forget your life.

That probably means you’re missing out on bigger paychecks.

Yeah, you see guys your own age making money and they’re doing these kind of silly movies and getting paid a lot of money. It’s ridiculous what actors get paid. So it is obviously a temptation and it’s hard, but I’m not going hungry.

What is your definition of luxury?

I am able to live in New York. I am able to do work that I enjoy. I am able to be creative and to earn money with it. I don’t need to be a millionaire. I am happy.

Did you ever have a plan B?

No, not really. I don’t like plan Bs. If you don’t have a plan B, then you can’t take plan B. Don’t give yourself an out.

You’ve become pretty popular over the years. How do you handle your fame?

I think I handle it pretty well. I’ve slowed it down immensely.

Would you say you were wilder when you were younger?

I mean I think if you’re a teenager that’s normal right?  You test boundaries and I think that’s what I did, but then I had people around me who also told me that I was being a jerk. One thing I knew about me was that I didn’t want to have any boundaries between me and my personal life and me as an actor because I know that can be really dangerous for the wrong kind of person. And I never got into it for that. I looked at people like River Phoenix. I decided I was going to do films that were creatively good and I wasn’t going to compromise and just do anything. I’m very wary of that and I know how dangerous that can be for a young person.  I’ve taken my time so I can grow with it. I’m still young so I’m not in any rush.

By taking your time it must have also been easier to get used to the seduction of the business. River Phoenix was destroyed by it.

Yeah I knew Brad Renfro who also died; it’s a really hard business. And the thing with Brad, he was 25 and he was really together and he was a great actor and it’s just a really hard business. You have to have people around you who look out for you and if you don’t have that you’re vulnerable to all sorts of things and you can kind of lose your way.

I understand you ran away from home at a young age and headed for New York.

You know, I read these things about myself and they have this romantic notion about it. I don’t like to talk about it too much because I saw some stuff that was pretty tough for a young kid to see.

With that experience, do you have some insight into life that others your age may not have?

Yeah, I think so and I try to use it in a positive way. I definitely try to use it to my advantage and forget the negative.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m not reading as much as I’d like to read, but right now I’m reading the Dalai Lama. He sort of tries to marry science and religion. It’s pretty interesting. And I’m reading a book on Blackwater.

How involved are you with the Dalai Lama’s teachings?

You know, I’m not very educated with all that. Based on what I’ve read about Buddhism I think that if I had to pick a religion that would be the one. It’s peaceful and less war involved, less guilt, less vengeance. It’s all love and humanity.

Are you a spiritual person?

I try to be and that’s kind of what the Dalai Lama teaches and I like that. We’re not perfect – you don’t have to be perfect – but it’s important to try and live your life in a certain way. Yeah, he’s cool.

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Short Profile

Name: Michael Carmen Pitt
DOB: 10 April 1981
Place of Birth: West Orange, New Jersey, USA
Occupation: Actor

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3 Responses to this Interview

  1. “I am able to live in New York. I am able to do work that I enjoy. I am able to be creative and to earn money with it. I don’t need to be a millionaire. I am happy.” that’s a great attitude to have.

  2. I love Michael. I really respect him for trying to be an artist.

  3. The Dreamers is my favorite movie of all time. Hey Michael, keep making movies that make people think! I hope to run into you in NYC someday.

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