The 56-year-old star accepted his award for best supporting actor at the 2020 Oscars for his part as a stuntman in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” His was the first award announced at the 2020 show. He immediately took the stage and got political by taking a jab at Republican senators who voted against Democrats’ requests to call new witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, specifically former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who claimed he was willing to testify.
“They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week,” Pitt said. “I’m thinking maybe Quentin [Tarantino] does a movie about it. In the end, the adults do the right thing.”
Speaking backstage, the actor explained why he included a political jab in his Oscars acceptance speech.
"I was really disappointed with this week," he told reporters. "And I think when gamesmanship trumps doing the right thing, it’s a sad day and I don’t think we should let it slide, and I’m very serious about that."
Although the overwhelming tone of online reactions was in praise of the actor’s recognition by the Academy after a long career in film, several viewers took to Twitter to voice their outrage over the star’s abrupt turn toward politics.
“Tried to watch the Oscars. Was happy for Brad Pitt and then he went political 2 seconds into his acceptance speech," one user wrote.
"I was so happy for Brad Pitt -- then he had to comment about John Bolton not testifying in the Senate - why do these actors think we care about their political opinions," another user wrote.
"I was so happy for #BradPitt and then he got political and ruined the entire deal," a third user noted.
"Stick to being an actor #BradPitt ya just convinced me to not EVER see one of your movies. I wanted to watch an award show not hear about politics or your opinion of it," another user concluded.
No new witnesses were called in Trump’s impeachment trial, in which he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate in a vote across party lines, with the exception of a lone Republican vote to convict coming from Sen. Mitt Romney.
Pitt had been expected to win the category after scooping up a series of honors this year, including at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.