Opinion | Never mind Brad Pitt’s GQ ‘corpse’ photo — let’s talk about his hobbies

During the pandemic, Brad Pitt made pottery.

The actor, Sexiest Man Alive alum and former Mr. Angelina Jolie is on the cover of GQ’s August issue. The lead image triggered a fuss this week as fans wondered why Mr. Pitt looked … dead.

As the Los Angeles Times framed it: “Social media reactions to the cover photo were not kind, to put it lightly. Some compared the actor’s pale visage to that of a corpse. More than one person described the experience of encountering the photo on their Twitter timeline as a ‘jump scare.’ Another likened the image to a ‘wax figure.’”

I will not argue. there es to Madame Tussauds vibe. If the creative goal was corpse chic, mission accomplished. The floral background only amplifies the open casket illusion. Pitt is still a handsome devil. But in this image, he looks like his lifeless body was pulled from the Los Angeles River and then hastily garbed in a shiny blue Louis Vuitton shirt, Versace trousers, and middle finger and pinky rings from Bernard James and Fabergé, with a combined retail value of more than $15,000.

I have no idea how much the pec-resting lizard costs.

But since I will never stop cheerleading for the legacy media, kudos to GQ and writer Ottessa Moshfegh for this compelling profile. It’s a great read, starting with Pitt’s obsession with analyzing his dreams of him, including a recurring nightmare: “The most predominant dream I would experience would be getting jumped and stabbed.”

Yikes. During the pandemic, I’ve also had strange dreams and, like Pitt, have kept a pen and pad at my bedside. I don’t get jumped and stabbed. But what’s freaking me out is that everyone in my dreams is now a stranger. My sleeping brain is inventing characters and they keep telling me I’m doomed.

But what I really want to discuss today — now that we are nearly 400 words in — is the hobbies Pitt took up during the pandemic.

I have learned how to play guitar. Pitt is also making ceramics. At one point, he slaps “two incredibly heavy candlesticks” into the palms of Moshfegh and yammers on about the light properties and thin-thickness scale of porcelain.

He produces wine on his Château Miraval estate in Provence and spent a long time with radar equipment looking for an alleged hidden treasure on the property that turned out to be a tall tale from the radar seller.

I won’t ridicule Pitt for this. If an enterprising scoundrel presented credible evidence a chest of gold was buried in my backyard, I’d probably pony up for his metal-scanning device from him. It’s like buying a lottery ticket.

GQ’s cover story generated a lot of coverage this week. Most focused on the funeral photo shoot or revelation that Pitt sees his acting career as in its “final semester.” He’s ready to exit stage right. One of Hollywood’s biggest stars is making peace with his own end credits, which might explain the photos.

But the real takeaway, at least to me, is the benefit of having hobbies.

I love that Brad Pitt now wakes up early to practice guitar. I love that he is spending hours messing around with clay before firing up the kiln. And I love that he identified the transcendental power of creation: “I just want to always make. If I’m not making, I’m dying in some way.”

The pandemic imposed lifestyle changes on all of us. We cooked more than usual. We went out way less than usual. We embrace new routines. We reassessed careers and downsized social groups. During the pandemic, I tried to grow scallions and cut my own hair, neither of which worked out.

But you know what I really felt after reading this GQ cover story?

An inexplicable desire to discover new hobbies.

The last time I solicited free advice from Star readers, it was for dog breed suggestions and your hundreds of emails were beyond helpful. Thank you. I’m still trying to convince my wife. She says we can discuss further in about a year. So, in the interim, now I’m asking you for hobby ideas.

Pitt, I don’t want to make porcelain candlestick holders or invest in a Fender Stratocaster to unlike badly emulate Jimi Hendrix. I already collected hockey cards and world coins and stickers as a kid. I need an active hobby suitable for an old man. A friend said I should take up golf. But golf seems as habit-forming as crack. My friend is addicted to golf. If he was forced to choose between golf or food, he’d now be gnawing on his putter.

Couponing? Sewing? Wood-working? Breakdancing? Journaling makes no sense since I’m already kind of doing that in this space with your indulgence.

Psychology Today once published a story — “Six Reasons To Get a Hobby” — that did not offer any hobby ideas. I suppose I could seek inspiration from celebrities, including Beyoncé, who has actual beehives and makes her own honey. Or Paris Hilton, who restores vintage radios. Or Mike Tyson, who is into pigeon racing. Or Will Smith, who slaps people like a total psychopath.

I’m honestly asking: what are your favorite hobbies? Email me. Maybe I can even get a second column out of this. Just don’t tell me you do interpretive dance in the nude to direct because I’m already struggling to fall asleep.

During this pandemic, Brad Pitt discovered new hobbies.

And he’s never seemed more at ease with the waking world.


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