Published May 26, 2011
In the years following Hurricane Katrina, Brad Pitt and his non-profit organization Make it Right have been tirelessly working to rebuild New Orleans. And now, the next potential philanthropic step on the star’s agenda is helping the victims of the Midwest's floods and tornadoes.
“I spent a lot of time in Joppa*. My grandparents are from there and it is about 50 or 60 miles from where I grew up, so we’re looking into it now,” Pitt, a University of Missouri alum, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column at the premiere of his new sci-fi drama, Tree of Life in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. “My thoughts are certainly with (the disaster victims) and of course a lot of them will be coming out in the next few days, they have a big mountain ahead of them. I wish them the best.”
Brought to life by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, “Tree of Life” tells an impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the late 1950’s, raising questions around the meaning of life and the existence of faith.
But one thing that can’t have been easy for the real life father-of-six was the brutally harsh treatment his character had to give his sons in the film.
“I’m hoping when my kids grow up, they’ll go ‘my dad’s a pretty good actor because that’s not him,’” Pitt said, adding that his own childhood was also quite different to the one depicted on-screen.
“I grew up in the same kind of environment, a lot of time outdoors,” he continued. “But I definitely didn’t have the same family dynamic. I wouldn’t be here if I did.
“It certainly made me think a lot about being a father and the impression that I leave on my kids, and that my actions are louder.”
And although he’s deemed one of the most famous actors in the world, Pitt’s sons in the film weren’t star struck – after all, they barely had any idea who he even was.
“We keep it fresh, but they did a great job. It wasn’t a normal kind of set with a lot of trucks and a lot of things that they were encumbered by,” he continued. “It was a really free-formed kind of experiment for me and it worked out really well.”
“Tree of Life” hits theaters this weekend, and coincidentally opens at the same time as his longtime partner Angelina Jolie’s animated flick “Kung Fu Panda 2.” But there’s no competition – apparently.
“We didn’t even know (they come out together,)” Pitt said. “We’re rarely aware of those things.”
On the note of “Kung Fu,” Jolie voices the character Tigress, an orphaned tiger from the South of China with aspirations to be the Dragon Warrior – a role her children felt more than comfortable having mom take on.
“I have a big tigress tattooed on my back, which I’ve had for a long time so my kids always love that and refer to the tiger. For them, this is all a normal thing – mommy’s half tiger and she’s a tiger,” Jolie told us with a laugh. “She’s an animated tiger and she’s half tiger, so they’re nicely confused.”
And so are we.
But despite all the glitz and glamour of the Jolie-Pitt duo’s star-studded existence, there is really only one thing that gives the couple fulfillment.
“Family,” Pitt said simply.
* Editor's Note: Brad Pitt's voice was hard to make out when he mentioned the Midwest city devastated by natural disasters. When asked about Midwest flooding, as best we can make out Pitt mentioned "Joppa." Joppa, Illinois was one of the Ohio River towns threatened by massive floods in April and May. It is 30 miles up river from Cairo, Illinois, which was evacuated when its levees on the Ohio River were breached. It is also very near the southeastern border of Missouri. Joplin, Missouri, was the central Missouri town leveled by devastating tornadoes that killed scores of residents. If Pitt said "Joplin," and not "Joppa," we regret the error.