It’s rare these days to find a young actor that makes an everlasting impression. Many, albeit talented, resembles similar qualities, perhaps because they mostly come from the Disney channel school. This is not the case for Michael Pitt, who has an advantage, an edge, a gleam in his eyes that sets him apart from the rest. 
His choice of films has always been driven by the desire of testing his ability. He could have been a major movie star by now but he decided early on to take jobs that he considered challenging, movies that he could stand behind, even if that meant not working for long periods of time. His characters have always been complex, like in the case of the Kurt Cobain inspired tormented singer in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days (in which he also performed all of the songs) or the soft spoken psychopath in Michael Haneke’s American remake of his own Austrian film Funny Games.
In 2007, he starred in the period drama Silk, adapted from the novel by popular Italian writer, Alessandro Baricco. Pitt played the lead role of Hervé Joncour, a French silkworm smuggler, who falls in love with a baron’s concubine while in Japan. Unfortunately the movie didn’t have the same success as the book, partially due to the lack of chemistry between Pitt and his on screen partner Keira Knightley. He quickly bounced back with the ensemble dark comedy Seven Psychopaths which went to become an international hit. 
I first became acquainted with his name when the actor entered the tv drama Dawson’s Creek. That is a show that spoke to at least two generations and with its countless references to cinema it meant a great deal to me personally. Pitt played Jen’s boyfriend in season three, pure soul Henry, set out to brake the dynamics of the core group of four protagonists. His participation meant great exposure for the actor and an opportunity to hone his acting skills, even if a show for teenagers and alike wasn’t really the actor’s greatest aspiration.
It didn’t go unnoticed, three years later maestro Bernando Bertolucci called him to take part in The Dreamers, his first film in four years. Pitt’s baby face was perfect for the naïveté the director was looking for his American exchange student in Paris during the May 1968 riots. A few years later that same innocent look mixed with a touch of sadness in his eyes would land him a job as a fashion model. He became the face of Italian brand Prada promoting the men’s clothes line. Not something Pitt particularly enjoyed; nevertheless looking good in a suit was in his DNA.
Pitt is half Italian, his mother’s maiden name is Di Maio and his grandfather came to United States during the immigration at the beginning of the 20th century. He never found out what city he was from, “My grandpa wasn’t really eloquent. He didn’t like to talk about his past. But I’ve been thinking about doing some research on him. I love the fact that I’m half Italian, that’s why I go to Italy so often”. Most people nowadays recognize Pitt from the critically acclaimed Prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.
In the show produced by Italian-American legend Michael Scorsese, Pitt played Jimmy Darmody, ice cold bootlegger whose story arc came to a shocking end for its devoted viewers. As the story goes when the time came to meet with Martin Scorsese, after a successful first audition, Pitt felt he needed to wear a suit.
Usually more comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, the importance of the meeting called for different attire. At that point in his life the actor couldn’t really afford it so he went to Armani and asked to borrow a good one. “I practically implored them for a suit. I didn’t own one. I very rarely wore suits to premieres. I imagined my Italian grandfather rolling over in his grave if I went and met Marty in jeans. Wearing a suit is a very Italian thing”. His grandfather taught him to always dress nicely, that putting a suit on was like inhabiting a different character, that people would talk to him and treat him differently.
In this particular situation he knew he had to stay true to the way he was raised. When he was younger he didn’t really trust men in suits, despite his grandfather’s recommendation. During his debut in 1999 in the off-Broadway play The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek two casting agents went to see him one night and waited for him outside.
After peeking out from backstage, Pitt slipped through the back door of the theatre. He felt intimated by the two men’s appearance, generally associated to bad news. It later became a funny story between the actor and his agent.
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