Glasgow’s Global Visitors: Brad Pitt

brad pittName: Brad Pitt

Born: 18th December 1963 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA

Credits include: Se7en, Inglourious Basterds, Fight Club

Reason for visiting Glasgow:

Brad Pitt’s first recorded visit to Glasgow was in 1994. At the time the actor was filming Interview With The Vampire in the UK and made a point of travelling to Scotland to do some sightseeing around the country – as an architecture and design enthusiast, a tour of Glasgow’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh buildings was high on his agenda. In a December 1994 issue of Rolling Stone magazine there is an in depth interview with Pitt partly conducted in the city by writer Chris Mundy, who accompanied him on the trip, while Scottish newspapers have also made frequent references to his visit – including the Fight Club star’s apparent liaison with the girlfriend of a Glasgow gangster and the words of warning he received as a result. A 2010 article in The Scottish Sun quotes Pitt as saying of his 1994 visit “Edinburgh and Glasgow are special – the architecture is something there”.

The 1994 visit may have slipped under the radar of most of the city at the time, however it was a different story in 2011 when Pitt returned to Glasgow to film World War Z – with equally famous partner Angelina Jolie and the couple’s children accompanying him on the visit. From the moment the specially chartered Virgin train carrying the family and other members of the film’s crew pulled into Central Station from London to the point when the cameras – which had been filming primarily around George Square, but also partly in Cardonald – rolled out of town there was a lot of hype about the actor’s presence. From themed T-shirts to specially named sandwiches and newspapers offering “Brangelina” guides on what to do while in Glasgow, Brad Pitt was – for a couple of weeks – at the centre of the city’s attention.

Stunt Double: Trainspotting

trainspottingtrainspotting 2trainspotting 3trainspotting 4Trainspotting could be regarded as one of the most significant British films of the modern era, and in Scottish terms is probably the most significant film full stop. Glasgow on Film has already studied the successful careers of Glaswegians Robert Carlyle and Kelly Macdonald, while the item on Perfect Sense just scratched the surface of Perth-born Ewan McGregor’s cinematic journey and the Shallow Grave article alluded to director Danny Boyle’s rise to legendary status. All of these inspirational stories and more are linked to the movie Trainspotting.

Released in 1996, Trainspotting is based on the novel of the same name by Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh. It follows the lives of a group of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, with McGregor’s Renton being the central character. He is joined by friends Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Tommy (Kevin McKidd) and the previously mentioned Begbie – played tremendously by Robert Carlyle. Kelly Macdonald completes the top billed cast as Renton’s schoolgirl lover Diane, while James Cosmo, Shirley Henderson and Peter Mullan are among the strong support. The film has been described as a dark comedy – a fair enough appraisal as there are plenty of laughs, many of them accompanied by a cringe or a disbelieving shake of the head (a particular scene involving Spud and some bed sheets sticks in the mind). The main strand running through the story is Renton’s attempt to leave his drug abusing life behind which, ultimately, he succeeds in as the film concludes with him relocated to London in upbeat form.

The film had and continues to have a hugely recognisable identity, which is what makes it such an important part of British cinema. Among other items of merchandise released, posters adorned bedroom walls around the UK and a memorable soundtrack brought (in some cases renewed) attention to artists as varied as Iggy Pop, Underworld and Blondie. It gained critical acclaim around the world and won awards, also being nominated for Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards. From a Scottish point of view Trainspotting shook up the “shortbread tin” image of Scotland and launched a number of young acting talents into the limelight.

As with Shallow Grave, it was in fact Glasgow that lent itself to the majority of filming despite the feature being set in Edinburgh. Among the Glasgow locations used were Crosslands pub on Queen Margaret Drive, Cafe D’Jaconelli on Maryhill Road, Jordanhill School and the since demolished Volcano nightclub in Partick. Perhaps as a thank you to the city, the Odeon cinema on Renfield Street was chosen as the venue for Trainspotting‘s world premiere. Among the cast and other celebrities in attendance was Jonny Lee Miller’s girlfriend of the time, a then little known actress who would later return to Glasgow in 2011 very well known – Angelina Jolie.

Stunt Double: World War Z

Glasgow on Film  is very excited about the release of World War Z in 2013. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the book by Max Brooks (son of Hollywood legends Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft) on which it is based, the news that scenes from it were to be shot in Glasgow last summer was warmly welcomed.

World War Z was perhaps the biggest film production in terms of scale to come to Glasgow to date. As mentioned previously in the Doomsday post, Glasgow has had a good track record of standing in for other cities and in this case it was Philadelphia. With the full support of the Glasgow Film Office and other local authorities and emergency services, certain city centre streets were closed off for some weeks as action-packed scenes depicting the panic surrounding a zombie outbreak in the Pennsylvania city were shot. American street signs went up, stars and stripes replaced saltires, scores of American vehicles lined the streets and hundreds of local people became extras, portraying police officers, office workers, soldiers… and of course the undead.

Most of the city loved the spectacle, with large crowds gathering at all hours of day to watch scenes being filmed or simply just wandering around a George Square that had come to resemble a studio backlot. Much of the excitement of course surrounded the presence of the film’s lead actor – Brad Pitt – who was accompanied on the trip by his equally famous wife, Angelina Jolie and their family. In town to play Pitt’s on screen wife was Mireille Enos, whose credits include the lead role in the American version of television series The Killing and the forthcoming feature film Gangster Squad. Enos’ actor husband Alan Ruck, best known for his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off also visited Glasgow during the shoot, while the aforementioned Max Brooks came to cast his eye on the production and signed copies of his book in comic shop Forbidden Planet on Buchanan Street.

After some reported artistic differences the film’s release – originally scheduled for December 2012 – was delayed, however American television network ET has just released a very brief teaser clip ahead of reportedly showing the full trailer this Thursday (8th November 2012). The clip includes a glimpse (at 0.03) of a bin lorry hurtling down Glasgow’s Cochrane Street and smashing through traffic. There are two things to note about this: 1. CGI has been used to alter the appearance, particularly the height, of some of the buildings in order to make them appear more “Philadelphian” – you will see in the trailer screenshot that the building behind the bin lorry is the same as the one on the Google Streetview image (the pub Committee Room No.9); 2. Glasgow on Film was on (distant) hand to capture photographs of this scene being filmed.

Keep visiting for more on World War Z