“Sometime last year, Brad Pitt began giving a lot of thought to unhappy marriages.
The actor was in Los Angeles filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Doug Liman’s thriller about a glamorous husband and wife who are secretly hired to assassinate each other. While the movie uses domestic ennui as a backdrop for a series of high-style action sequences, Pitt wanted to tell a darker, truer tale, one that explored the “unidentifiable malaise” that so often haunts a seemingly happy couple. “You don’t know what’s wrong,” he says, “because the marriage is everything you signed up for.”
That was the inspiration for this photo shoot, which Pitt created with photographer Steven Klein. Tired of celebrity portraiture and always up for an artistic “jam sesh,” as he calls it, Pitt (who’d teamed with Klein and W in 1998 for an equally risqué layout, inspired by the film Fight Club) essentially codirected the photo series, while starring in it alongside his Mr. and Mrs. Smith costar and purported new love, Angelina Jolie. He opted to set it in 1963 (the year he was born), a time when the last traces of the squeaky-clean Fifties were giving way to something more complicated. “The facade was still being maintained,” he says, “but things were starting to crumble underneath.”