Actor, activist, dad: Brad Pitt’s roles through the decades

Ever since his breakthrough in “Thelma & Louise,” nothing slowed the actor’s meteoric rise to stardom.

From left, actor Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt and Jon Bernthal pose in front of a Sherman Tank during a photocall for the film 'Fury' at Bovington Tank Museum on August 28, 2014 in Bovington, England. Set at the very end of World War II, in April 1945 as the Allies make their final push in the European Theater, the film follows a battle-hardened army sergeant who commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.

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Pitt goes to war in the upcoming film "Fury," a film also starring Logan Lerman, Scott Eastwood, Michael Pena and Shia LaBeouf.

UN Special Envoy and actress Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel on June 13, 2014 in London, England.

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Actress Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt arrive at the World premiere of "Maleficent" at the El Capitan Theatre on May 28, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie attend the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014.

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Brad Pitt appears in 2013's "12 Years a Slave" as a home builder from Canada, and learns some disturbing information about one of the slaves on the plantation where he's working. The film is based on a true account of Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped into slavery.

Pitt's new film "12 Years a Slave" doesn't have a starring role for him, but his small part is pivotal in the action. Here, the actor arrives at the film's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6, 2013.

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Pitt plays a former United Nations employee whose family is swept up in an abrupt outbreak of zombies in "World War Z."

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Toting as many as six children along at a time, Jolie and Pitt can't help but cause a scene, as they arrive with Knox, Vivienne and Pax at Tokyo's Haneda International airport on July 28, 2013. Pitt was in town to promote "World War Z."

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Pitt and Jolie bring two of their six children, Maddox and Pax, to the "World War Z" premiere in London on June 2, 2013.

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Jolie and Pitt stepped out on the red carpet at the "World War Z" premiere in Berlin on June 4, 2013. The expensive zombie film went through a laborious production process, but brought in over $500 million in box office worldwide.

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Pitt poses on the red carpet ahead of the screening of his film "Killing Them Softly," at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in France, on May 22, 2012.

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In "Killing Them Softly," Pitt plays a professional enforcer investigating a robbery of a mob-protected poker game.

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Pitt poses for a photo with a family who's been helped by the Make It Right foundation in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, on March 9, 2012. Make It Right works to build sustainable homes and buildings.

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Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie arrive at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 29, 2012 in Los Angeles.

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Jolie and Pitt arrive at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 15, 2012, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Pitt holds a cane due to a leg injury sustained after falling on a ski slope. Pitt was nominated for "Moneyball" and Jolie for "In the Land of Blood and Honey," though neither won.

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Pitt and Jolie (not seen) visit President Barack Obama on Jan. 11, 2012 in the Oval Office in Washington, DC. to discuss humanitarian work.

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Pitt plays Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball," based on Michael Lewis' non-fiction book. Jonah Hill co-stars.

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Brad Pitt and young baseball players from an area affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, pose for a photo during the Japan premiere of Pitt's latest film "Moneyball' in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 2011.

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Accompanied by their six children, Pitt and Jolie arrive at Haneda Airport in Japan on Nov. 8, 2011. Pitt was there for the Japan premiere of his film, 'Moneyball'.

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Pitt and Jolie leave the festival palace after the screening of the film "The Tree of Life" at the 64th Cannes Film Festival on Monday, May 16, 2011

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"The Tree of Life" is a period piece that centers around three boys in the 1950s, whose parents are played by Pitt, right, and Jessica Chastain, left. The film received the Palme d'Or, the top prize, at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

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Pitt, left, and co-star Jessica Chastain attend a press conference for "The Tree of Life" on Monday, May 16, 2011 at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Jolie and Pitt take all their children (from left), Vivienne, Shiloh, Knox, Zahara, Pax and Maddox out for a walk to pick up candy in New Orleans in March 2011.

Actor Will Ferrell, left, and actress Tina Fey, right, flank a cardboard cut-out of Pitt at the "Megamind" panel during Comic-Con 2010 at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2010 in San Diego, Calif.

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Jolie and Pitt visit refugees in the Bosnian village of Medjedja, 43 miles east of Sarajevo, on Monday, April 5, 2010. Jolie and Pitt visited Bosnia to spotlight the plight of 117,000 people who have not been able to return to their homes since the end of the Bosnian war.

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Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, left, Pitt, and Zahara Jolie-Pitt, right, visit the "Salt" film set at Pier 66 in New York on Dec. 29, 2009.

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Pitt promotes "Inglourious Basterds" at the 62nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 20, 2009. Pitt told TODAY's Ann Curry, "In true Tarantino style, it's outrageous."

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Eli Roth, left, and Pitt are shown in a scene from 2009's "Inglourious Basterds." Quentin Tarantino directed this film about a group of Jewish American soldiers during World War II who decide to fight back by scalping and murdering Nazis. The director told the Daily Beast, "I enjoy the war-mission subgenre but I want to forward it, make it bigger, broader, more artistic."

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Pitt, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, right, speaks to the news media in the U.S. Capitol after a meeting to promote New Orleans reconstruction in Washington on March 5, 2009. The Obama administration announced it would commit another $438 million toward redeveloping Gulf Coast communities still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie arrive at the premiere of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in Paris on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009. "Button" was nominated for 13 Oscars, but won just three, for makeup, art direction and visual effects.

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Pitt and Jolie with their children walk through Narita International Airport in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009. They arrived in Tokyo for the Japan premiere of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Pitt and Jolie have six children: Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne.

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In 2008's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Pitt starred as a man who is born old and then ages backward. Pitt told Rolling Stone, "I find 'Benjamin' is about those universal things we all share -- that 95 percent that makes us all the same, wherever we are in the world. Our loves, our hopes, but also the loss that we all walk around with and hide very well, and the ultimate notion that we're all expendable."

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In 2008's Coen brothers' comedy, "Burn After Reading," Pitt co-starred as a gym employee who stumbles upon the secret memoir of a CIA agent, played by John Malkovich. He and his co-worker, played by Frances McDormand, decide to blackmail Malkovich, with unfortunate results. "It’s much more fun to play the guys who make the wrong choices, have limited experience, and make the wrong presumptions," Pitt told

On July 12, 2008, Jolie gave birth to Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline at the Lenval hospital in Nice, France. The first pictures of the babies sold for $14 million to People magazine and Hello! The money went to the Jolie-Pitt foundation.

Pitt and Jolie promoted Jolie's film, "Kung Fu Panda," at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2008. At the time, Jolie was pregnant with her twins Knox and Vivienne.

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Pitt shows off Kellogg Park, a technologically advanced playground in the Lower 9th Ward that uses solar energy to run its electronic wireless game system in New Orleans on Dec. 1, 2008. The playground sits among homes being built through Pitt's Make It Right Foundation.

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Pitt starred as Jessie James in 2007's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford." Robert Ford, played by Casey Affleck, idolized James so much that he wound up resenting him and ultimately killing him. Director Andrew Dominik told that Pitt was the first person he thought of for the role. "Part of the attraction with Jesse James was to cast a movie star and it wouldn't be miscasting, and the celebrity would work for the part rather than against it."

Pitt and Jolie arrive at the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 15, 2007, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Pitt was nominated for best supporting actor for his role in "Babel," but the award went to Eddie Murphy for "Dreamgirls."

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Jolie holds daughter Zahara, while Pitt props son Maddox up on his shoulders as the family takes a stroll on the seafront promenade in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 12, 2006. Jolie and Pitt were in Mumbai, India's financial hub, to shoot her film "A Mighty Heart," based on the life of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in which Jolie portrays Marianne, Pearl's wife.

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Cate Blanchett and Pitt play a couple who run into severe trouble during their vacation in Morocco when Blanchett is accidentally shot. Pitt fights to keep her alive, despite the lack of a hospital or reasonable transportation. Pitt told Interview magazine, "I was just really moved by the last moment, that epiphany of realizing just how close he came to losing everything. It was just that one idea that made me jumpy."

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Pitt and Jolie ride a motorcycle on a busy street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Nov. 23, 2006. The pair flew to Southeast Asian countries for the filming of "A Mighty Heart" in Mumbai, India.


Pitt and Jolie created sparks as a bored married couple who discover they are enemy assassins in 2005's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Jolie raised eyebrows when she told the New York Times that she'd like to show the movie to her children, because, "Not a lot of people get to see a movie where their parents fell in love." At the time of filming, Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston.

Pitt visits with children from the Carl Sithole Center orphanage for AIDS-infected and abused children on Nov. 5, 2004, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Pitt traveled to South Africa from Nov. 2 to 9 on a trip organized by DATA, the advocacy group formed by U2 frontman Bono to help fight AIDS, world debt and unfair trade rules.

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Pitt and Jennifer Aniston attend the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sept. 19, 2004, in Los Angeles. The couple divorced in 2005, citing irreconcilable differences.

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Pitt played Achilles in 2004's "Troy," an adaptation of Homer's epic about the assault on Troy by the united Greek forces. Pitt told USA Today that he physically prepared for the role for a year and gained about 10 pounds of muscle. "It was grueling," Pitt said.

Stephen Soderbergh directed 2001's "Ocean's Eleven," a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film. The film centered on a gangster named Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who rounds up 10 associates, including Pitt, to simultaneously rob $150 million from three major Las Vegas casinos. At the time of the film's release, Pitt told Film Inside Out, "The great thing about my baggage, as limiting as it may seem, it also sets me up for that kind of surprise and then people go and 'that was great, where did that come from?'"

Pitt guest starred on Aniston's sitcom "Friends" in 2001. In this Thanksgiving episode, Pitt played Will Colbert, a high school friend of Ross' (David Schwimmer) who reveals that he and Ross spread a rumor that Aniston's Rachel was a hermaphrodite and that they were members of the "I Hate Rachel Green Club" in high school.

In Guy Ritchie's 2000 film, "Snatch," Pitt played Mickey, an Irish Gypsy boxer who speaks in a barely intelligible Irish accent. Roger Ebert described Pitt's accent by writing, "He sounds like a combination of Adam Sandler and Professor Backwards."

Pitt and Aniston arrive for the 51st Emmy Awards on Sept. 12, 1999, in Los Angeles. The couple met in 1998 and married in a private ceremony in Malibu on July 29, 2000.

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Pitt starred as Tyler Durden opposite Edward Norton in 1999's "Fight Club." Norton plays an office drone who is inspired by Durden to start a series of clubs where men can vent their aggressions. Director David Fincher once said, "It's probably a character closer to Brad in real life than most people would be comfortable knowing."

The 1997 film "Seven Years in Tibet" tells the story of Austian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (Pitt), who escapes from Austria during World War II in order to climb Mt. Nanga Parabat. He winds up in Lhasa, where he meets the Dalia Lama. The film caused a little bit of controversy when it came out that Harrer had been a member of Hitler's SS elite forces.

In 1995, Pitt was chosen by People magazine as the sexiest man alive. He was named sexiest again in 2000. Pitt, pal George Clooney and Richard Gere are the only actors to have received the honor twice.

Pitt received an Oscar nomination for his role in 1995's "Twelve Monkeys." Pitt played mental patient Jeffrey Goines, an animal rights activist and anti-consumerist, who plays a crucial role in the life of lead character James Cole (Bruce Willis).

Pitt starred as Tristan Ludlow in 1994's "Legends of the Fall." The film tells the tale of three brothers and their father who live out in the remote wilderness in the 1900s and how their lives are affected by war, love and nature. The film co-starred Anthony Hopkins, Aiden Quinn, Julia Ormond and Henry Thomas.

Pitt starred as vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac in 1994's "Interview With a Vampire," opposite Tom Cruise and a young Kirsten Dunst. In the film, Louis tells how he became a vampire and what the life entailed.

Pitt dresses down for the "True Romance" premiere in Hollywood, Calif., on Sept. 8, 1993. In the film, penned by Quentin Tarantino, Pitt played the stoner Floyd. His classic moment in the film came when he asked some dangerous gangsters, "You guys want to smoke a bowl?"

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Pitt played a serial killer in 1993's "Kalifornia," in which he co-starred with Juliette Lewis and David Duchovny. Duchovny plays a journalist who is writing a book about serial killers and happens upon a real one in Pitt. Pitt recently said in Interview magazine of the film, "Apparently the writer hated what I did. It was written more like Martin Sheen in 'Badlands' instead of what I did. I liked it, though."

Pitt dated Gwyneth Paltrow from 1995 to 1997. At one point the couple was even engaged to be married. He also dated Juliette Lewis, Robin Givens and actress Jill Schoelen.

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Robert Redford directed 1992's "A River Runs Through It." Pitt played Paul Maclean, the rebellious son of a Presbyterian minister, who grows up loving to fly fish in rural Montana. Craig Sheffer co-starred as Paul's brother Norm, who is as reserved and practical as his brother is wild. Pitt recently told Rolling Stone that the role was one of his "weakest performances."

Though it was not his first role by any stretch, 1991's "Thelma & Louise" made audiences sit up and take notice of Pitt. He played J.D., a handsome, young conman who shows Geena Davis' Thelma the pleasures of love making.

Pitt starred on the short-lived Fox TV series "Glory Days." He played one of four high school buddies who start going in different directions, but who manage to maintain their friendship. The show lasted six episodes.