Brad Pitt Became Famous Because of This Movie Role

Brad Pitt is, perhaps, one of the most well-known actors of his generation. Born December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Pitt has 80 acting credits and 52 production credits to his name, according to IMDB. The Golden Globe winner is best known for his roles in Fight Club (1999), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), and Moneyball (2011). 

But everyone has to start somewhere, and Brad Pitt put in quite a lot of work in show business before getting his big break. So which movie role truly made Brad Pitt famous, and which early roles came before that? Here’s what we know.

Which movie role truly made Brad Pitt famous?

Brad Pitt truly reached stardom with the unlikely film of Thelma and Louise in 1991. The film stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in the starring roles of best friends who set out on an adventure that, at first fun and games, takes a terrifying turn. After committing a series of crimes, the two best friends find themselves being hunted down by the cops – and they decide to flee to Mexico to escape. 

Where does Brad Pitt fit into this? He plays the role of J.D. – a sweet-talking but decidedly two-faced cowboy and hustler who hitches a ride from Thelma and Louise. Although he only appeared in roughly seven minutes of the movie, Brad Pitt provided both eye-candy and comic relief in a female dominated film that mostly invoked the darker side of human emotions. 

People have pointed out that the way Brad Pitt is objectified in the film turns the tables on the usual male/female roles. He assumes the role of the attractive female, while the lady’s become the typical male action heroes. At one point, Brad Pitt is featured in a sex scene with Thelma (Geena Davis) that is decidedly PG-13. 

No matter how the movie portrayed him, he truly stole the show. Brad Pitt became one of the most remembered supporting characters in Thelma and Louise, and the film opened a lot of doors in his acting career. 

What was his first acting job?

Brad Pitt began acting in 1987, and during that year he appeared in three uncredited movie parts. One was as a boy at the beach in Hunk, while another was as a waiter in No Man’s Land. He also appeared as a preppy kid at the fight in Less Than Zero. He did receive one credited acting part that year, as well, when he appeared in two episodes of the television series Another World as Chris.

What roles did Brad Pitt play in the late 1980s?

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt | Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Before Thelma and Louise debuted in 1991, and after his small acting gigs in 1987, Brad Pitt stayed very busy. In 1988 alone he appeared in four episodes of the television series, Dallas, and made a guest appearance in an episode of 21 Jump Street. He founded out the year by portraying Teddy Johnson in the television movie, A Stoning in Fulham County

The late 1980s and the opening year of the 1990s ended on a fairly strong note for Brad Pitt, which probably led to his receiving his role as J.D. in Thelma and Louise. During those last few years, Pitt appeared in two television series – Thirtysomething and Glory Days. He also appeared in two made-for-television movies, The Image and Too Young to Die?

Before his big break, Brad Pitt also made appearances in three movies. He played Joe Maloney in Across the Tracks (1990), Dwight Ingalls in Cutting Class (1989), and Brian in Happy Together (1989). It was directly after his extended guest appearances in six episodes of Glory Days that Pitt finally got his big break… although he almost certainly didn’t realize that it was at the time.