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Superstar Brad Pitt recently received his first Oscar for his portrayal of Cliff Booth in the 2019 film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Rising to fame in the 1990s, the Academy Award winner has proven he can take on a wide range of roles.

While his name is synonymous with Hollywood, Pitt made a choice to use his middle name when he embarked on a career in acting. Some fans may still not be aware of his given moniker.

Brad Pitt speaks onstage at the Maltin Modern Master Award Honoring Brad Pitt during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Brad Pitt | Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

‘Ad Astra’ star wanted to be a journalist

Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Pitt was raised in Springfield, Missouri. The oldest of three children, the Oscar winner originally planned on a career in journalism and pursued his studies at the University of Missouri.

“It was one of the best J-schools in the country, and I had loved All the President’s Men, so the idea of investigative journalism appealed to me,” he told Leonard Maltin of his college at the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January, according to Collider. “And then, it didn’t.”

Pitt ended up ditching school just two weeks before completing his degree in order to embark on an acting career.

“I just started finding myself being drawn more to design and maybe magazine layout, but I’d always had a love for film,” Pitt shared. “It just wasn’t an option in Southern Missouri, or Missouri.”

Academy Award winner hits Hollywood

The Se7en star told Maltin that his desire for showbiz was greater than his love for news writing, so he headed to the West Coast.

“I’d always lamented that there wasn’t an avenue for film in Southern Missouri, and it just occurred to me that I could go to it, and I literally loaded up the car. I didn’t graduate,” Pitt revealed. “All I had to do was hand in one term paper, but in my head, I was done. I was going west.”

Pitt immediately sought out work as an extra on TV and film sets, and was quick to get his name in circulation.

“I landed and went straight to McDonald’s,” the Thelma & Louise star recalled. “I had $275 to my name, and I saw in the paper that you could sign up for extra work, so I signed up for three places. You had to pay $25, and within a week later, it was for an industrial film, but I was thrilled.”

Missouri State Class of 2020 gets a virtual visit from Brad Pitt

Showing his allegiance to his home town, Pitt recently gave a shoutout to graduates of Missouri State University who attended a virtual ceremony due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Hi everyone, Brad here from quarantine with a shoutout to the graduating class of Missouri State University!” Pitt said in the video, as posted by the university’s Twitter account. “It must be very strange doing this in these trying times, but know we’re rooting for you.”

Pitt encouraged the Class of 2020 to work their hardest and pursue their dreams. “Our money’s on you to make this world a better place. And we wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” he told the grads. “You made it! Enjoy, congrats again, and think big.”


Brad Pitt Showed Off His Vocal Talent in These 3 Animated Films

Apparently, Pitt still goes by his middle name Brad even with residents from his home town. The Oscar winner’s first name is actually William, though maybe the mono-syllabled moniker “Brad Pitt” was the better choice for Hollywood.