Brad Pitt Was Apparently “Volatile When Riled” On The Set Of “Legends Of The Fall” After Desperately Wanting To Quit And Having Heated Fights With The Director

Ed Zwick, the film’s director, alleges that Brad “would get edgy whenever he was about to shoot a scene that required him to display deep emotion.”

A new Hollywood memoir is pulling back the curtain on Brad Pitt’s earlier career.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

Ed Zwick’s upcoming memoir — Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood — looks set to detail his filmmaking career, with one new excerpt focusing on his time directing Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall in the early ‘90s.

Ed Zwick with Brad Pitt and another gentleman

For context, Brad stars in the 1994 film as Tristan Ludlow. The Western epic — which is based on a novella of the same name by Jim Harrison — follows the journey of three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of Montana.

Screenshot from "Legends of the Fall"

In the new excerpt published by Vanity Fair, Ed reflects on how the film came to be and reveals that Tom Cruise was initially locked in to play the part of Tristan. However, he ultimately dropped out over concerns about the character’s “ethics.”

He said that this unexpected complication put the film “in limbo” for a while, though he “never gave up hope on getting it made” while trying to find the right actor.

Brad in the outdoors in a scene  from "Legends of the Fall"

Eventually he met with Brad, who he recalls “had a genuine passion for the script and a strong attraction to the character.”

Closeup of an older Brad Pitt

“Growing up in rural Missouri, he had known men like Tristan,” the director writes. “When he left the meeting, I felt I had found the right actor. I was more determined than ever to push it over the line.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

However, once Brad was signed on to play the lead, things apparently went awry as he became desperate to back out.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“It fell to [producer] Marshall [Herskovitz] to talk Brad off the ledge,” Ed writes, describing it as “the first augury of the deeper springs of emotion roiling inside Brad.”

Brad in a cowboy hat in a scene from "Legends of the Fall"

Of course, Brad obviously wound up staying on. Although, things were never plain sailing as there were apparently tensions between him and the director all throughout filming.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“He seems easygoing at first, but he can be volatile when riled, as I was to be reminded more than once as shooting began and we took each other’s measure,” Ed writes of the actor, who he claims “would get edgy whenever he was about to shoot a scene that required him to display deep emotion.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“His ideas about Tristan differed from mine,” he adds, saying that “Brad had grown up with men who held their emotions in check.”

“I believed the point of the [Legends of the Fall] novel was that a man’s life was the sum of his griefs,” Ed recalls. “Yet the more I pushed Brad to reveal himself, the more he resisted. So, I kept pushing and Brad pushed back.”

Brad on a horse in a scene from "Legends of the Fall"

The director details one alleged instance on set when he gave Brad notes on his performance in front of the cast and crew. The move — which he admits was “a stupid, shaming provocation” — allegedly escalated into a full-blown altercation.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“Brad came back at me, also out loud, telling me to back off,” Ed alleges. “The considered move would have been to tell the crew to take five and for the two of us to talk it out. But I was feeling bloody-minded, and not about to relent.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt on the red carpet

“Brad wasn’t about to give in without a fight,” he claims. “I don’t know who yelled first, who swore, or who threw the first chair. Me, maybe? But when we looked up, the crew had disappeared.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

The director purports in the excerpt that the fight wasn’t a one-time thing, going on to allege they would “blowup” at each other so regularly that “the crew grew accustomed” to their “dustups.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt wearing sunglasses

But despite all this, he says that he and Brad would always “make up and mean it,” emphasizing that the actor “is a forthright, straightforward person, fun to be with and capable of great joy.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“He was never anything less than fully committed to doing his best,” Ed writes.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

And so, while Legends of the Fall went on to receive Oscar nominations, including a win for Best Cinematography, Ed claims that Brad “wasn’t pleased” with the final cut.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

“He felt I’d underplayed his character’s madness,” he recalls, before explaining that Brad was probably right.

“I had in fact cut only a single shot from the scene where Tristan is raging with fever, screaming as the waves wash over him on the schooner. But it was a shot he dearly loved, and it would have been little enough to leave it in, and I should have,” he confesses. “Apologies, Brad.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

On top of all this, Brad’s starring role in the movie also happened to come shortly before he was named People’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” for the first time in 1995 — a title he was apparently not thrilled to receive.

Closeup of Brad Pitt

Writing that Brad was “unhappy” with the honor — which he would receive for a second time in 2000 — Ed jokes that it’s “something for which I take neither credit nor blame.”

Closeup of Brad Pitt

Brad has not addressed the new claims in Ed’s memoir. His representative declined to comment when contacted by BuzzFeed.

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