Celebrate Brad Pitt's Birthday By Looking Back at the Star's Best Roles

By Kelsey Klemme Dec 18, 2019 2:00 PMTags
NOV. 16, 2020
Watch: Brad Pitt Doesn't Want to Be at the "Ad Astra" Premiere

It's been a huge year for Brad Pitt!

The Oscar-winning actor, who turns 56 today, is closing out 2019 having produced or starred in some of the most memorable movies of the year, including a few that have already garnered awards buzz.

On-screen, the performer wowed audiences when he partnered up with fellow A-lister Leonardo Dicapio for Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.

The star is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture at the Golden Globes for his portrayal, and the film got some love too with a nod for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy.

That wasn't the only time the celebrity graced the silver screen, either. Pitt also starred in Ad Astra, a drama set in outer space that received wide praise from critics.

While we love the actor for his abilities to embody any character, he's also a bonafide producer, with his company Plan B Entertainment having produced The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which saw its debut at Sundance, and The King starring Timothée Chalamet.

When Brad Pitt Met Leonardo DiCaprio: How the Last Two Movie Stars Finally Came Together for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Pitt has been influential in front of and behind the camera for nearly three decades and has received wide recognition for his work.

In fact, on Thursday, the Producer's Guild of America announced that Pitt, along with his producing partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, will be receiving the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the organization's award ceremony this upcoming January.

To celebrate one of our favorite actors, and arguably one of the last true movie stars, we've rounded up some of his best roles to date.

Check out the many characters Pitt has played and then sound off on which is your favorite!

Thelma & Louise

While Brad Pitt had booked roles on soaps such as Another World, it was his portrayal as a charming but mischievous hitchhiker named J.D. in Thelma & Louise that would serve as his big break.

We're glad he booked it, too, since THAT shirtless scene leaves us as flustered as Geena Davis' character when we watch it on repeat.

A River Runs Through It

This Robert Redford-directed classic proved that Pitt was more than just eye candy thanks to a performance that showcased his dramatic acting chops.

In it, he plays Paul Maclean, a skilled fisherman and brother in a town that is slowly turning on him over his fearless reporting.

True Romance

The actor showed off some of his comedic abilities when he played stoner roommate Floyd in this glossy thriller.

It also marked the first time that Pitt would star in one of Quentin Tarantino's projects, with the famous director having written True Romance. The two would end up working together on future films such as Inglorious Basterds and Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.


One of Pitt's most underrated performances comes through in the hyper-violent Kalifornia.

In the film, his character Early goes on a cross-country ride with a journalist and photographer who are visiting the sites of famous murders on their way to L.A. Unfortunately for them, Early proves to be murderous himself, making their trip as terrifying as their subject matter.

The late Roger Ebert praised Pitt's acting abilities, writing in his 1993 review that his performance is one, "of the most harrowing and convincing performances I've ever seen."

Interview with the Vampire

Before there was Twilight, there was this OG vampire classic, in which Pitt plays Louis de Pointe du Lac, a reluctant vampire, opposite of Tom Cruise.

Legends of the Fall

This epic Western drama situated during World War I earned Pitt, and his long blonde locks, his first Golden Globes nomination. His role as Tristan Ludlow got him the nod for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Drama.


What's in the box?!

The Missouri native stars in Se7en as a new, headstrong detective up against John Doe (Kevin Spacey), a serial killer mapping the way he kills his victims to the seven deadly sins. 

It's an ending you'll never forget and Pitt's performance must have impressed director David Fincher, as he went on to star in his other films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Fight Club.

12 Monkeys

Pitt's performance as mental patient Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys earned him his first Oscar nomination, with the role getting him the nod for Best Supporting Actor at the 68th Academy Awards.

Fight Club

Pretty much everyone knows this cult classic, in which Pitt plays Tyler Durden, a soap salesman who starts an underground fight club alongside an unnamed Narrator played by Edward Norton.

If somehow you haven't heard what the movie's twist is by now, don't worry, we won't spoil it.

After all, the first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.


In this 2000 action-comedy film, Pitt plays an Irish boxed named Mickey O'Neil who gets in the midst of criminal activities once a group of thieves recruit him to throw a fight.

Spy Game

Pitt went from being directed by Robert Redford in A River Runs Through It to starring alongside him in this 2001 spy thriller.


One of Friends' most iconic episodes was "The One with the Rumor," where Pitt co-starred alongside his then-wife Jennifer Aniston on the popular sitcom.

In this Thanksgiving-themed episode, Rachel Green (Aniston) is unable to recognize Monica's guest Will Colbert (Pitt), even though she apparently bullied the latter so much in high school, he and Ross (David Schwimmer) created an "I Hate Rachel" club.

Friends fans were excited to see the A-list couple on-screen together and Pitt's performance earned him a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

Ocean's Eleven

The Oscar-winning actor performed in this star-studded heist film, alongside talents such as George Clooney, Julia Roberts Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and the late Bernie Mac

Pitt plays opposite of Clooney for most of the film, with their characters teaming up to put together a team whose goal is to rob one of the world's most secure places: the Bellagio vault in Las Vegas.

The film was a hit and led to the subsequent films Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, where Pitt appeared again.


Thankfully, Pitt's long golden hair makes its return in Troy, a historical war epic where the actor plays the warrior Achilles.

If you're getting any Game of Thrones vibes from the movie, it would make sense, as the film was written by David Benoiff, who went on with D. B. Weiss to create the Emmy-winning HBO series.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a married couple where each is hiding from the other that they are a trained assassin...only to each find that their next mark is their spouse.

The film went on to gross the most in each star's respective career up to that point, but became more known as the project where the actors famously fell in love.

A few months after the film wrapped production, Pitt announced his split from his then-wife, Aniston. A few months later, Pitt would be concept and be featured in the infamous "Domestic Bliss" shoot with Jolie for W Magazine, all but confirming their suspected relationship.


In this Golden Globe-winning film that interconnects four different storylines, Pitt plays Richard Jones, a husband whose wife is critically injuring after being shot while on a vacation in Morocco.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

While the Western film genre saw its golden age sunset in the late '60s, a few modern Westerns have gone on to acclaim, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

In it, Pitt plays the real-life outlaw Jesse James opposite of Casey Affleck as the historical Robert Ford, with the latter figure famously known for killing James in 1882.

Burn After Reading

Playing a dim-witted personal trainer, Pitt shines in this dark comedy that showcases the actor in another dancing scene that is as iconic as when we first saw him in Thelma & Louise.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In this 2008 fantasy romance film, Pitt stars as Benjamin Button, who is curiously aging backwards throughout the film.

His performance earned him his first Oscars nomination for a lead role, nabbing a nod for Best Actor at the 81st Academy Awards.


Inglourious Basterds

In Pitt's second collaboration with Tarantino, this time with the latter at the helm of a film as a director, the actor portrayed First Lieutenant Aldo Raine, a character whose passion is, "killin' Nazis."

The Tree of Life

Pitt stars as Mr. O'Brien in this Palme d'Or-winning film that chronicles the meaning of life through the families memories in the light and aftermath of a tragedy.


Pitt scored another nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his portrayal of Billy Beane in Moneyball.

Based on a true story, the movie centers around Beane meeting Peter Brand, an economics graduate, and how the two used an unconventional way to recruit players with Brand's sabermetric approach.

Killing Them Softly

If you're a fan of mob crime movies, look no further than this flick, where Pitt plays Jackie Cogan, a hitman whose sent to take out quite a few men after they rob a poker game.

World War Z

Listen, none of us want to be in the apocalypse, but if we have to be, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to be going through it alongside Brad Pitt.

In this 2013 film, that's exactly what happens. Modern-day society is overrun by zombies, except these terrifying versions are extremely fast.

Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations employee, who is tasked with finding the origin of the zombie virus before the clock runs out on humanity.


In Fury, Pitt returns to World War II, this time as tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier, who faces off hundreds of German soldiers as his crew dwindles down to just five men.


Marion Cotillard and Pitt play opposite of one another in this 2016 war thriller that will keep you guessing as to whether or not Pitt's character can trust anyone.

The Big Short

In Adam McKay's dark comedy around the 2008 financial crisis, Pitt plays Ben Rickert, a former trader who helps two associates bet against the American economy when they suspect—correctly—that the housing market is about to crash.

Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood

In Tarantino's love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, Pitt plays opposite of fellow A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie that transports us back to 1969.

Pitt's character, Cliff Booth, is working as a stunt double for DiCaprio's Rick Dalton, a Western star whose popularity is fading along with the genre.

However, the two are unaware of the danger around them as Dalton's next-door neighbor is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), famously remembered in real-life as a rising star whose life was cut short by members of the Manson Family.

Ad Astra

If there is one thing Hollywood loves to do, it's send celebrities into space.

Whether it was Matt Damon in The MartianSandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity or, now, Pitt in Ad Astra, a commonality of all these films is the desire to learn more about the universe...and stay alive in the harsh elements outside of Earth.

In this film, Pitt plays Roy McBride, whose father Clifford has been missing for years after a mission to try to find additional life in the universe. Roy is sent to make contact with his father, and along the way discovers truths of the universe and humanity.


Brad Pitt's Best Roles

Which of Brad Pitt's roles is your favorite?
J.D. in Thelma & Louise
Floyd in True Romance
Louis de Pointe du Lac in Interview with the Vampire
Detective David Mills in Se7en
Jeffrey Goines in 12 Monkeys
Tyler Durden in Fight Club
Will Colbert in Friends
"Rusty" Ryan in the Ocean's franchise
Achilles in Troy
John Smith in Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Aldo Raine in Inglorious Basterds
Billy Beane in Moneyball
Gerry Lane in World War Z
Don "Wardaddy" Collier in Fury
Ben Ricket in The Big Short
Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
Roy McBride in Ad Astra