Brad Pitt announced his new project, "Make It Right," an environmentally friendly plan to build homes for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, live this morning on TODAY.
The actor-activist told NBC News' Ann Curry that the first of at least 150 homes will be ready in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans by next summer.
The following is a complete transcript of the interview:
ANN CURRY: Almost two and a half years since Katrina, just steps now from where the
levees broke, today Brad Pitt is unveiling his new vision for the Lower 9th
Ward, which, of course, was ground zero for Katrina.
Brad, good morning.
Mr. BRAD PITT ("Make It Right" Project): Good morning. How are you?
CURRY: You're launching a new effort here. You've formed an organization called Make It Right.
Mr. PITT: That's right.
CURRY: And your plan is to build 150 homes, maybe more?
Mr. PITT: Well, we're going to start with 150 homes. I mean, this area
where we're standing right now, they've lost over 5,000. So you know, I'm
hoping we can expand here and expand over to the rest of New Orleans. There's
no reason why we need to stop here. We've got a really good group of people
working here. We've got some great designs and it's just going to be if we
can get the financial support to make up the difference that people need to
return to their homes.
CURRY: Let's remind people about what happened here in the Lower 9th Ward.
We actually have some videotape to remind you of what happened. In fact, the
area is still shattered. This was Katrina's ground zero, one of the poorest
communities. And now let's take a walk now and see what you have in mind.
These buildings are wrapped in pink so that they can be seen you say from
Mr. PITT: Well, I — I'd love to see this from Google Earth, especially at
night. I mean ...
CURRY: They represent where you want the homes to eventually go.
Mr. PITT: Well, this is — this is —I mean, it's an art installation, it's a
social statement, probably. But most of all it's a fund-raising tool and ...
CURRY: What makes you think you can pull this off, Brad?
Mr. PITT: Oh, we can do it. It's ready to go. It's just a matter of how
many we can do. We've called on 13 great architects to come in, we've got
great designs from people. The community has shaped this thing. We're all
ready to go.
CURRY: We actually have some pictures that you gave us that reveal for the
first time what these homes are going to look like. We've got a videotape
showing these images.
Mr. PITT: Great. Great.
CURRY: And residents actually get to pick which home they want?
Mr. PITT: Right.
CURRY: You already have seven people — seven families that have already picked
Mr. PITT: Yeah, sure. I mean, we should — we're going to have people in
homes by the end of next summer. So we're really excited by that.
CURRY: The end of next summer.
Mr. PITT: Yeah.
CURRY: This coming summer.
Mr. PITT: Yeah. You're going to see life coming here. You're going to see
the communities come back.
CURRY: You donated $5 million of your own money or you're pledging. You've
got somebody else pledging another $5 million.
Mr. PITT: Right.
CURRY: And you're also asking the American people to step up and help.
Mr. PITT: Right, right, that's ...
CURRY: How can they help?
Mr. PITT: That's what this is. I mean, this is really an adopt a house
campaign. I'm asking for foundations, for high net worth individuals, for
church groups, for corporations to come in and adopt a house. Basically,
$150,000 will get a family back into their — back into their home, so ...
CURRY: You actually think even, like, you know, Joe and Ma Smith or whatever
at home with a dollar, if they go to a certain Web site ...
Mr. PITT: It works on this level, too. If they come on the Web site you can — you can adopt a low flush toilet, a solar panel, these are all sustainable.
CURRY: For Christmas.
Mr. PITT: For Christmas, yeah.
CURRY: Rather than that sweater you could've got?
Mr. PITT: That's my hope. If you go on and do that and I'm going to get my
dad a tankless water heater. I just spoiled the surprise. But that's the
hope here is to call on the American people to come here in the holiday season
and to come to our Web site and help the families of New Orleans get back into
CURRY: And people who have no connection to New Orleans, why should they do
Mr. PITT: Well, I mean, you know, listen, I'm not much of a salesman. I
mean, I can't tell people. Either you're moved or you're not. But for me, I
think of a father who once had a home here and raised my kid — raising my kids
here. And if I lost everything and had no way to return, how that would make
me feel. And then the fact that other Americans would come in and help me out
and help me create a path for me to come back to my roots, to my home, would
mean everything to me, would restore my faith in humanity. We talked about ...
CURRY: You want to do that?
Mr. PITT: We're going to do that. I mean, Mr. Greene over here, he's
living in a trailer. He lost his granddaughter and he lost his mother the
night, right here where we stand.
CURRY: Hmm. I know.
Mr. PITT: Jumping from roof to roof. You've got to understand this place
where we are within 20 minutes was up to water levels up to 18 feet.
Mr. PITT: People were forced to their roofs. The house off the foundations,
having to jump to other roofs. And you know, it's a huge tragedy that left a
big scar, and it's a big scar now because these people are in limbo.
CURRY: You can do this because of the love of your fans, because you've got
people who care about you and gives you power to bring attention to all of
this. Your fans, a lot of them want to know, you know, how you have time to
do this. I mean, here you are. You're an actor. You're a father of four
kids all under the age 7. We see you as a play-on-the-ground, you know,
hands-on kind of father.
Mr. PITT: I don't know how to — I see this as a great opportunity. This
is — I find this more fulfilling as any film I've been in.
CURRY: So when you stack up your priorities, how do you prioritize in your
Mr. PITT: Well, it's going to be family first, certainly. And — but that
love of my family brings me here.
CURRY: And does that — does doing this come before movies? You've got to
prioritize when you multitask.
Mr. PITT: Sure. I guess so. I can't — I don't see why I have to let
anything go at this point. But right now, yeah, this is the focus and we're
going to see this through.
CURRY: And more than 150, so this could be a long-term project.
Mr. PITT: Yeah. We should be down here for years. I mean, we'll go as long
as we've got the support. So I really need— I'm really hoping that folks will
come to the Web site ... www.makeitrightnola.org.
Mr. PITT: And we'll check this out and see what we're doing here.
CURRY: Brad Pitt, you know what? Multitasker.
Mr. PITT: Great.
CURRY: A man who likes pink. Full of surprises.
Mr. PITT: I guess so. I guess so.
CURRY: Thank you so much this morning.
Mr. PITT: Thank you much. I appreciate it.
CURRY: And we want to tell everybody that if you didn't get that Web site,
you can find a link to it on our Web site which is at todayshow.com. Now back
to you, Meredith.
VIEIRA: Thank you, Ann. If I can ask you and Brad very quickly, the images
of the houses, they look like they're on a stilt, they're raised houses. Is
that because of concerns that there could be flooding again in the area?
CURRY: Meredith is asking, in the images that we showed, it looks like the
houses are on stilts. Is that because of concerns about flooding again?
Mr. PITT: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, there's no question. If you live in
San Francisco, you're going to go through another earthquake. There will be
flooding here again.
Mr. PITT: So the requirements for the architects were affordability, sustainability.
Mr. PITT: Safety, one of the key issues and that they be beautiful. So,
yeah, there's definitely — these homes will be built to be — height
restrictions, to keep people who are — if they have to weather out a storm,
keep them safe. There's other safety precautions built into the buildings
where you can even get higher and the safety kits worked in.
Mr. PITT: Yeah. But it's a big focus.
CURRY: And Brad, actually, Meredith, had some of the biggest names in
architecture all over the world involved in these drawings. And there are I
think about 13 different types of homes that people can choose from.
Mr. PITT: Yeah. Right now. And, again, we hope to bring in more architects
and keep building on this catalog and make it available for everyone.
CURRY: All right. Thank you, Brad Pitt.
Mr. PITT: Yeah, yeah.
VIEIRA: Thank you, Ann. Thank you, Brad. Truly beautiful homes.
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