Brad Pitt hasn’t thrown his hat in the ring to be mayor of his adopted hometown, New Orleans. Others have done that for him, launching a grassroots campaign complete with nifty T-shirts touting “Brad Pitt for Mayor.”
But he’s more than willing to serve, the actor told TODAY’s Ann Curry with a self-deprecating laugh.
“If chosen, would you run?” Curry asked in the prerecorded interview that ran Thursday.
“Yeah,” Pitt said.
“Would you serve?”
“Yeah. I’m running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalization and taxation of marijuana platform,” he joked.That comment drew a measured “OK” from Curry.
“I don’t have a chance,” Pitt predicted.
But what if he were elected. Would he take the job?
“Didn’t I just answer that?” he replied.
“No, you didn’t,” Curry persisted.
“I don’t have a chance,” he repeated.
“Because you’re not the guy?”
“That’s not what I do best,” he said, ending that line of questioning.
Birth of a notion
The Brad Pitt for Mayor movement began as a whim by Tulane art history professor Thomas Bayer, who posted a tongue-in-cheek list of 13 reasons Pitt should be the city’s next mayor. Reason No. 2 is as thanks for what he’s done for the city. The next reason is: “If we elect Brad Pitt mayor, Angelina Jolie would be the First Lady of New Orleans.” Reason No. 12 is: “Instead of having to sue for the release of public records, or to attempt to restore accidentally deleted emails, we can learn everything about our first executive from the pages of the National Enquirer and People Magazine.”
Josh Harvey, who sells T-shirts and other apparel, saw Bayer’s list and whipped up the shirts touting Pitt for mayor.
It wasn’t serious until the media — starting in Great Britain, of all places — grabbed hold of the story. What began as a humorous Web posting and T-shirt sales gimmick suddenly became a “grassroots” movement, which gained momentum when Chris Rose, a columnist for The Times-Picayune newspaper, wrote a column endorsing Pitt.
Since then, despite Pitt’s apparent lack of interest, the movement has continued to grow.
Greening New Orleans
Pitt was far more comfortable talking about the progress on the green housing project he is sponsoring in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, a poverty-stricken neighborhood that was virtually wiped out four years ago by Hurricane Katrina. Pitt spoke with Curry while sitting in the living room of one of the first 15 affordable and eco-friendly homes he has built through his foundation, Make It Right. World-famous architect Frank Gehry was among those who designed the homes.
A handful of single-family homes of the 150 homes planned by Make It Right have been built and are occupied. Next on the agenda are duplexes. But the neighborhood already has a noteworthy claim to make.
“We are the greenest neighborhood in the United States already, and that’s only with 15 houses,” Pitt said. He was forced to laugh at the irony, adding, “It's really a bit sad. We will be 150 houses next year. It’s an extraordinary success … we got families here that have moved in. And they’re coming home with $20 utility bills, $12 electric bills.”
Pitt is under no delusions that he’s solving all of the stricken city’s problems.
“At the same time, I’m irritated,” he told Curry. “Because there was 4,000 homes that were lost in this neighborhood. I mean, we’re just scratching the surface.”
Seeing it throughAlthough he and his partner, megastar Angelina Jolie, travel the world with their expanding brood of children while making films, Pitt said he remains deeply attached to New Orleans, where he and Jolie own a home.
“I want to see this through,” he told Curry. “It means something to me. So it’s not a big act. I get antsy when I can’t get down here.”
His commitment has not gone unnoticed in the city, where the grassroots movement to draft him as mayor — and sell T-shirts — began.
Pitt and Jolie guard their personal lives jealously. But in a recent interview with Parade magazine, he opened up a little about his idea of love.
Curry referred to the article, saying, “You said, ‘Do you know how you tell real love? It's when somebody else’s interest trumps your own. Love of someone else, of family, of your kids becomes the most important, most worthwhile thing in your life.’ ”
Pitt squirmed a little while listening to his words, then added a telling observation that explains why he appreciates so much what he has.
“I stand by that,” he said. “Someday it won’t always be there, so I don’t look forward to that day. It comes with it, you know. The greater the love, the greater the loss, I think the saying goes.”