Brad Pitt talks sobriety, Alcoholics Anonymous: ‘I removed my drinking privileges’

Maeve McDermott USA TODAY

With starring roles in two of 2019’s biggest movies, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt spoke to the New York Times about a particularly cathartic experience that contributed to his health and success this year, when he quit drinking and began going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges,” he said, before praising his AA group, which was comprised solely of men. “You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard. It was this safe space where there was little judgment, and therefore little judgment of yourself.”

Despite his status as one of Hollywood’s most recognizable movie stars, Pitt shared that nobody in his group sold his stories – told to the other members in confidence – to the tabloids.

“It was actually really freeing just to expose the ugly sides of yourself,” he said. “There’s great value in that.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Pitt spoke about his discomfort with the superstar status of his early career, saying his life wasn’t “the lottery it appeared from the outside.”

“In the ’90s, all that attention really threw me,” he said. “It was really uncomfortable for me, the cacophony of expectations and judgments. I really became a bit of a hermit and just bonged myself into oblivion.”

Over time, Pitt says he gained perspective on how to handle his status in the public eye.

“Those dubious thoughts, the mind chatter, the rat in the skull — that’s comedy,” he added. “It’s just ridiculous that we would beat ourselves up that way. It doesn’t matter. I spent too much of life wrestling with those thoughts, or being tethered to those thoughts, or caged by those thoughts.”

Pitt’s big year follows a period of turbulence for the star. He split from ex-wife Angelina Jolie in September 2016, and he was accused, and later cleared, of child abuse allegations, with Jolie’s divorce papers citing the “health of her family” as the reason for the split.

Speaking to GQ in 2017 for his first major profile since the news of his divorce, Pitt shared that he was sober, joking that in his heyday he could “drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka.” 

“I mean, we have a winery. I enjoy wine very, very much, but I just ran it to the ground. I had to step away for a minute,” he said. “I was a professional. I was good.”