Brad Pitt

Before doing research for this piece, we just assumed Brad Pitt was the product of a genetic experiment in which scientists attempted to create the perfect human specimen for reasons that remain unknown. It turns out that Brad was conceived naturally and actually does have parents -- Jane Etta, a high school counselor, and William Alvin Pitt, a truck company owner -- go figure. A classic go-getter while attending Springfield, Missouri's Kickapoo High School, Brad first caught the acting bug while starring in various high school musicals. After graduating, he attended the University of Missouri where he majored in journalism and continued acting as a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. But two weeks prior to graduation, something compelled Brad to leave university and move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Let's let the man himself explain why: "I had this sinking feeling as graduation approached. I saw my friends getting jobs. I wasn't ready to settle down. I loved films. They were a portal into different worlds for me, and Missouri wasn't where movies were made. Then it hit me: If they didn't come to me, I'd go to them." Something tells us he made the right decision.

brad pitt's humble beginnings

If you think superstardom just fell into Brad Pitt's lap, you're sorely mistaken. Unlike today's generation of young stars, Brad Pitt's rise to the top was littered with meandering appearances on television shows like Growing Pains, Dallas and 21 Jump Street and films like No Way Out, No Man's Land and Less Than Zero. These small roles in mostly inconsequential projects would continue until 1991, when Pitt played Geena Davis' outlaw lover in Ridley Scott's smash hit Thelma and Louise. The breakout role earned Pitt widespread attention and acclaim, and would prove to be the catalyst for many fo his early successes including the films Johnny Suede, Cool World, A River Runs Through It, and Kalifornia.

brad pitt becomes a movie star

Already armed with unbelievable physical attributes, Pitt used his turns in Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It, and Kalifornia to prove to the world that he could act too. For Brad Pitt, taking over Hollywood seemed inevitable. With roles in films like Interview With The Vampire, and Legends of The Fall (for which he received his first Golden Globe nod for best actor), Pitt managed to achieve widespread popularity but failed to find the perfect marriage of script and his talent. That is until David Fincher unleashed the grim thriller Se7en on the world, with Pitt's portrayal of the brash young detective David Mills going down as one of his best performances even to this day. Pitt followed that up with a role in the twisted sci-fi film Twelve Monkeys, for which he earned his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. However, Pitt's cinematic comfort zone continued to elude him, as his roles in Sleepers, The Devil's Own, Seven Years in Tibet, and Meet Joe Black were largely ignored by critics and audiences alike.

brad pitt's love life overshadows his acting career

Even with roles in films like Meet Joe Black, Fight Club, Snatch, The Mexican opposite Julia Roberts and Spy Games opposite Robert Redford, all anybody could talk about was what Brad was doing offscreen. Having already been involved in a highly publicized and ultimately failed engagement to Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt's love life came under even more scrutiny when he courted and eventually married Jennifer Aniston in 2000. With a seemingly successful marriage and a soaring film career--thanks to massive hits like Troy, Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve -- Brad Pitt could do no wrong. Then, in a move that still reverberates through the fabric of pop culture today, Brad Pitt signed on to appear in a film called Mr. and Mrs. Smith; his costar was a woman named Angelina Jolie. The rest, as they say, is history.

brad pitt gets together with angelina jolie to form "brangelina"

If someone were to tell us a decade ago that in due time, the world's two biggest stars would fall in love and then travel the world acquiring babies from some of the planet's most desperate countries, while giving birth to three of their own, we would laugh, and continue drinking our key lime milkshake. But alas, it came true! After inciting one of Hollywood's biggest scandals of all time by leaving Aniston for Jolie, Brad Pitt shamelessly began seeing Angelina, and claimed to have fallen in love with her while working on Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Since then, "Brangelina" as they are more commonly known, have gone on to become one of the world's most powerful couples--jet-setting celebrities who somehow seem more concerned with the world's struggles than they do their own careers. Most importantly, their desire to help others actually seems genuine, as opposed to simply an attempt at good publicity. Since meeting Angelina, Brad has been involved with various humanitarian initiatives including the ONE Campaign, aimed to fight AIDS and poverty in developing countries, and Not On Our Watch, an organization aimed at focusing global attention on the atrocities occurring in Darfur. Brad's love of architecture has also led to the creation of the Make It Right Foundation which will help in constructing 150 new houses in New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward, with an emphasis on sustainability and affordability. When Brad and Angelina aren't busy fixing the world's ills, they spend their time devoted to their children Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne. The Obama's may be The United States' first family, but the Jolie-Pitt's are the world's first family, no doubt.

what's up next for brad pitt?

After many personal and professional struggles, Brad Pitt finally seems to be in a groove. His last slew of films, including Babel (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination), Ocean's Thirteen, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Burn After Reading, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for which he received his first Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role, seem to be his most assured, and everyone is talking about his latest role as Lt. Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino's WWII romp Inglourious Basterds. Also look for Brad to make waves starring in Terrence Malick's highly anticipated The Tree of Life, which also stars Sean Penn and is expected to be released by year's end.

Pitt's production company, Plan B Entertainment--who had a hand in films like The Departed and A Mighty Heart--also has a slew of films on the way including Kick-Ass, Eat, Pray, Love, and The Sparrow.