Brad Pitt Makes a Surprise Appearance at the Hollywood Film Awards

The actor/producer honors director Beautiful Boy's Felix van Groeningen

By Zach Johnson Nov 05, 2018 3:50 PMTags

Brad Pitt is back on the award circuit.

Although the 54-year-old actor skipped the red carpet at the 2018 Hollywood Film Awards in Beverly Hills last night, Pitt made a splash when he made a surprise appearance onstage to present Beautiful Boy filmmaker Felix van Groeningen with the Breakthrough Director Award.

Pitt, whose last official public appearance was at the Gersh Oscars party in March, co-produced the buzzy drama for Plan B Entertainment. Based on twin memoirs—David Sheff's Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction and Nic Sheff's Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines—the movie stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet as the two Sheffs.

"Tonight we honor Belgium's Felix van Groeningen for the Breakthrough Director of the Year. Truthful storytelling, as natural as it should be—as unnatural as it often is—does not, in fact, come easy. To do so takes brutal self-reflection, vulnerability and a light touch," Pitt told the room of A-listers. "I can think of no finer example than Felix van Groeningen's devastating and beautiful film, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Oscar-nominated in 2014 for Best Foreign Feature Film. In his latest film—and first feature in the English language, Beautiful Boy—Felix adapts real life father and son memoirs from David and Nic Sheff, illuminating the perils and challenges of addiction, achingly portrayed by Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. Beautiful Boy illustrates an unwavering commitment to each other, and the belief in unconditional love, above all of us."

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Pitt concluded, "In this time, when meanness is so loud, what better salve than that of hope?"

After hugging van Groeningen, Pitt faded from view.

"My films aren't formulas; they're alive," van Groeningen said in his acceptance speech. "They're interested in people and relationships and life and love. I make films because they often oblige me to process my own experiences and to face the hard things I need to face. Making Beautiful Boy was a great journey, and it's very moving to see how people react to it."

2018 Hollywood Film Awards Red Carpet
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for HFA

Sadly, Pitt didn't stay for the remainder of the ceremony.

"Brad looked good," a source tells E! News. "He seemed healthy and happy and genuinely excited about the story van Groenigen told in the movie. His hair was still in that feathered, 1970s style he's been sporting while filming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and his appearance was brief." After quickly posing for photos backstage, he made his exit, "never to be seen again."

Later in the evening, Armie Hammer presented Chalamet with the Supporting Actor Award.

"Thank you so much to the HFA for honoring our film tonight, and my director Felix van Groenigen as well," he said. "Thank you, Felix, for nurturing me through this audition process and the movie, and allowing me to be part of this urgent story you've spent years working on."

"Thank you to everyone who worked on getting this movie made; it took 10 years to make this since they optioned the rights to the books," the 22-year-old actor informed the audience. "Thank you, Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner. Thank you to Brad Pitt. Haha! Thank you to Brad Pitt! And thank you to Plan B, too, and Amazon. Thank you to Jennifer Salke and Julie Rappaport...This is a problem that affects many, many people in the United States right now and a lot of people my age. Working on this film certainly opened my eyes to the reality that addiction affects everyone—the loved ones of the addicted included. This disease does not discriminate. It has no face. Thank you to the HFA for spotlighting this film and giving it a voice."

—Reporting by Alli Rosenbloom