How Brad Pitt Went From Wearing A Chicken Suit To Becoming A Hollywood Icon

Brad Pitt's first job, according to E! News, was to wear a giant chicken costume for El Pollo Loco's restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles. Today, he's a bonafide Hollywood icon with the bumps and bruises to prove he's earned his star power. From his first major film role in Thelma and Louise, on to cult classic Interview with a Vampire, his marriage and divorce to both Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, then becoming an Academy Award-winning producer, here's how Pitt became a Hollywood icon.

'Thelma and Louise,' 1991

After wearing that chicken suit, Pitt went onto to act in a several television movies, a few series and even a few small movies. But his big break came in 1991, when he co-starred in Thelma and Louise opposite Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. Pitt, who was just 27, held his own alongside the acting veterans. He played J.D., a very attractive and hunky hustler who not only steals Davis' heart, but something else. While some actors would have flubbed the opportunity, Pitt was nothing but professional says his co-star Sarandon.

"He's told stories about how professional I was and how I made him a professional — I don't remember any of that," Sarandon quipped to the The Hollywood Reporter. "It seemed like it was absolutely, absolutely easy for him. When I saw the movie and I saw him in the scene in the police station, that's when I knew that he really was something special. There was really something there. He's a very smart guy."

And his bedroom scenes with Davis were hardly difficult. "It was very challenging," she laughed off to The Hollywood Reporter. "I just didn't know how to get into it."

'Interview with a Vampire,' 1994

After nearly stealing the show in Thelma and Louise, Pitt's next biggest project was dark and gritty. He starred in the Anne Rice thriller Interview with a Vampire, which was released in 1994. The film received mixed reviews and it earned $105 million on a $60 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. In light of the lukewarm reception and near financial disaster, Pitt confessed to being "miserable" in the film.

Talking with Entertainment Weekly, Pitt spilled the beans and even said he asked to get out of shooting after it had already begun. "I am miserable," Pitt told the magazine. "Six months in the f***ing dark... We got to London, and London was f***ing dark. London was dead of winter. We're shooting in Pinewood (Studios), which is an old institution — all the James Bond films. There's no windows in there. It hasn't been refabbed in decades. You leave for work in the dark — you go into this cauldron, this mausoleum — and then you come out and it's dark." Pitt went on to explain that repeated days like this nearly drove him to madness. "I'm telling you, one day it broke me. It was like, 'Life's too short for this quality of life,'" he said.

Pitt then called his friend David Geffen, who was also a producer on the film. After whining about the conditions, Geffen told the star he would need to pony up $40 million if he wanted to back out. "It actually took the anxiety off of me," Pitt recalled. "I was like, 'I've got to man up and ride this through, and that's what I'm going to do.'"

'Twelve Monkeys' and first Oscar nod

In 1995, Pitt took a stab at science fiction by playing Jeffrey Goines in the cult-classic Twelve Monkeys. His character was a mental patient. The film received positive reviews, but Pitt believes he dropped the ball and could have done a better job.

"For that film, I locked myself into an apartment in Philly," Pitt told Entertainment Weekly of his preparation and also pointing to his discipline. "I went out maybe three times in two weeks. I'm watching Titicut Follies, this documentary [about a hospital for the criminally insane]. I'm watching anything from Dennis Hopper. I'm trying to find the voice and the move. I'm bouncing off the walls. In truth, I nailed the first half of that movie, and I dogged the second half. I rode the gimmick. I rode the manic. That's what's wrong with it."

Pitt says more than a year after the film was released, he later saw what went wrong with the entire project. "I woke up in the middle of the night and went, 'That's what it was.' I played it all manic, and that was a mistake."

Although he seemingly is his own worst critic, Pitt landed his very first Oscar nomination for the role. According to IMDb, he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He would go on to lose, unfortunately.

'Fight Club,' 1999

At this point in his career, Pitt had played a charming street hustler, a messed up vampire and a mental patient. His next big work, Fight Club, would prove he was more than just a pretty boy. It showed he could get down and dirty with the best of them and that he could take a punch.

Director David Fincher said Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, was probably more like him than anyone else he's played. "There it a childlike sense of anarchy," Fincher said according to Rolling Stone. "He is kind of a sh*t-stirrer and one of those people who is 'Huh? Is that the cur­rent thinking? I don't really buy that.'"

When the film opened in 1999, it received terrible reviews and it bombed in theaters. According to Entertainment Weekly, it earned a lousy $37 million while it operated on a $63 million budget. Despite the bad press, Pitt claims he knew it was a great film, and he was right. Today, it's a cult classic. Pitt told the magazine he knew it was a hit when he and co-star Edward Norton were watching the film at the Venice Film Festival and no one was laughing but them. "I'd had that feeling on Se7en," he said. "I had it on True Romance — that feeling when you know it's right. So I know the feeling now. And it happened on Fight Club."

But when the film debuted, the press was ruthless, tearing it apart and labeling it everything short of a disaster. Most of the criticism seemed to come from the violence. "The fighting isn't necessarily 'take your aggressions out on someone else,'" Pitt told CNN at the film's release. "The idea is just to get in there, have an experience, take a punch more importantly and see how you come out on the other end — test yourself."

Marriage and divorce to Jennifer Aniston

What Hollywood leading man would be complete without an equally impressive woman on his arm? For seven years, Pitt had arguably the most beautiful and sought-after woman in the world on his arm. He was entangled in a loving relationship with Jennifer Aniston — until all hell broke loose. The pair began dating in 1998 and tied the knot in 2000, according to Us Weekly. But after five years of marriage, things fell apart. And there was wide speculation the marriage ended in fire because Pitt had fallen in love with his Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie.

"We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate," the former couple said in a joint statement to the Associated Press (via Fox News), an attempt to quell rumors of infidelity. "For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another."

Despite attempts to show there was no cheating involved, in 2008 Aniston let the cat out of the bag with a damning interview with Vogue. "That stuff about how she couldn't wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool," Aniston slammed Jolie.

Months after splitting, Pitt and Jolie were photographed vacationing in Africa with Jolie's adopted son Maddox.

'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, ' 1998

While Pitt's private life remained a bit of a mess, his career couldn't have been better. There was great interest in him and that translated to his next big film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which he played the title character. Although it didn't earn a ton of money in the theater — Box Office Mojo reports it earned $127 million on a $150 million budget — it earned Pitt his second Academy Award nomination. He was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Filming was difficult because a number of people tied to the set died — including Jolie's mother.

"I walked away realizing that time is short," Pitt told the Telegraph recognizing his own mortality. "I don't know if I have a day or 10 days or 10 years or 40 years. Am I halfway or am I close to the end? I don't know, so I have to make sure I don't waste those moments in any kind of pettiness or bitterness or laziness, and that I surround myself with the people who are most important to me."

'Moneyball,' 2011

In 2011, Pitt's long awaited passion project, Moneyball, was released in theaters. It tells the story of a real-life washed up former professional baseball player, Billy Beane, who struggles to pull together a winning team. According to the Telegraph, it took a whopping four years and one mega snafu to get the film made and into the hands of consumers. In fact, days before it was set to film in 2009, the entire project went through a massive re-write and was shelved until an agreed budget with Sony could be reached. "The screenplay went through many evolutions, and it took everyone's fingerprints, including Bennett's and the casting of mainly real people from inside baseball to produce what is finally on the screen," Pitt told the publication. "I was very passionate about it, and I'm very happy with the final outcome."

Pitt was not only an actor on the film, he was a producer. "I'm a sucker for injustice stories and wanting to right the injustice," he told The Hollywood Reporter. But as the star actor told NPR, the character ultimately drew him in. "I like him for his idiosyncrasies — that he can't watch the games without getting too emotional, that he often has food down his shirt, that he tends to break a few chairs now and then," Pitt explained. "These things make him human."

In all, it grossed $75 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. It also landed Pitt his third Academy Award nomination for best actor, and the film was also nominated in the best picture category.

Producer credits role in

Shortly after Moneyball's success, people began to notice Pitt not only as an actor, but an incredible producer and storyteller. He was among a group of producers who earned the Academy Award for Best Picture for the hit period drama 12 Years a Slave. At this point in his career, Pitt's Plan B production company is running full steam ahead.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on why he chose to put his money behind the gripping slavery tale, Pitt said, "It's important that we understand our history, not for any kind of guilt, but that we understand who we were so that we can better understand who we are now, and why we're having the specific problems we're having or the successes were having," he said. "Most importantly who we're going to be... At the end of the day we just hope that this film remains a gentle reminder that we're all equal. We all want the same, we want dignity and opportunity for ourselves and our family."

Pitt went on to produce Fury and Selma among other important dramas. Plan B was doing so well that it was recognized by the Producers Guild of America with the Visionary Award in 2014, according to Variety. "Plan B Entertainment is being recognized with the Visionary Award for producing stories that have breathed new life into some of the seminal — and in some cases, most painful — episodes of our shared history," the organization said in a statement.

Twice as sexy

According to MSN, he is the first man to ever be granted the coveted People's Sexiest Man Alive title twice — in 1995 and 2000. Over the years, there have been pools of people dying to be around Pitt. His pouty lips and long hair made him irresistible. But then people began to learn he's more that a hunky adonis. He's a real man with complicated life. Things certainly shifted for him after divorcing Aniston, running off with Jolie, and more. He's undoubtedly even sexier as he's a full-fledge father with both biological and adopted kids under his wing.

"I put much more emphasis on being a satisfied man," he told Parade in 2011 about his life in the limelight. "I'm satisfied with making true choices and finding the woman I love, Angie, and building a family that I love so much. A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss. ... That's the trade-off. But I'll take it all."

And, of course, being any true Hollywood magnet means countless stories being fabricated about your life. In many ways, it's a rite of passage for any major star. "I mean, how many stories have you read that aren't true, stories about me and Angie being married or fighting or splitting up?" he said not knowing the future. And when we don't split up, there's a whole new round that we've made up and we're back together again! We'll get married when everyone can. We're not splitting up. And we don't have a seventh child yet."

Married and divorced Angelina Jolie

After several years together and a gang of kids, Pitt and Jolie finally made their love official by tying the knot in France (they were officially married in California first for legal reasons) in 2014, according to Us Weekly. "On Saturday, Aug. 23, in the presence of family and friends, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were married in a small chapel in Chateau Miraval in France," a rep for the stars said. "It was a nondenominational civil ceremony. It was very much a family affair."

The fairy tale marriage didn't last long. In September 2016, the couple split. The breakup was heard around the world as there were allegations of substance abuse and anger issues on Pitt's behalf, TMZ reported. Sources said Jolie became "fed up" with Pitt smoking weed and drinking. The couple maintained there was no infidelity — dodging rumors Pitt cheated on Jolie like he allegedly did with his first wife, Aniston. Jolie's attorney said the decision was made "for the health of the family."

For months, the pair were engaged in a nasty war in the tabloid headlines. Many of them placing Pitt as to blame. But in January 2017, they released a statement announcing they were going to keep details of their divorce private. "The parties and their counsel have signed agreements to preserve the privacy rights of their children and family by keeping all court documents confidential and engaging a private judge to make any necessary legal decisions and to facilitate the expeditious resolution of any remaining issues," their statement read, according to The Guardian. "The parents are committed to act as a united front to effectuate recovery and reunification."

One thing is for sure, no one reaches icon status without a bit of marriage drama. At this point, Pitt's got two divorces under his belt with two of the world's most sought after women.

'Moonlight' and beyond

Pitt found himself at the forefront of winning again this year. His Plan B production company produced the 2017 Academy Award-winning best film Moonlight. His business partner Dede Gardner explained both his involvement in the films Plan B produces and his philosophy.

"Brad's involvement sort of depends on the movies," Gardner told Indie Wire. "He likes our movies, obviously, but he has created a space for us to work that is, I would suggest, entirely singular. By that I mean that he believes in the shelf life of movies, he doesn't believe in the notion that a movie has to see a successful opening weekend to work. He reminds us all the time of the movies that we discovered long after their initial release, and he believes that we should tell stories that we feel like we would die if we didn't. He feels like we should work as hard as we can because what we do is a privilege. It's enabled us to be very liberated in our ambitions. It lets us really stretch, because we feel incredibly supported and blessed to chase our passions."

Up next for Pitt is his military drama War Machine, in which produces and plays General Glen McMahon. The story follows the rise and fall of a military leader in Afghanistan, according to IMDb. It's set for release in May 2017.