Brad Pitt didn't realise he was playing a Nazi

Greer McNally
Brad Pitt attends the red carpet of Ad Astra during the 76th Venice Film Festival on August 29, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Primo Barol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Actors generally do a lot of research into the parts they play – especially if the role is based on a real person. But Brad Pitt revealed recently that he had no idea he was playing a former Nazi until after the cameras started rolling.

“When I did Seven Years in Tibet,” the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star revealed, “it was only halfway through the film that I found out that my guy had been a f***in’ Nazi.”

The actor, who’s new film Ad Astra is about to hit cinemas, explained the situation in an interview in today’s The Telegraph Magazine.

He also expressed his frustration over the fact that part of his character’s history wasn’t explored.

Brad Pitt in a scene from the film 'Seven Years in Tibet', 1997. (Photo by Mandalay Entertainment/Getty Images)

“I think ignoring that was a mistake in the film. I mean, to have come from that – it’s even more incredible for him to have made this spiritual flip,” Pitt added. “So why hide it?”

Read more: Brad Pitt Teases Potential ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Mini-Series

In the 1997 film, Pitt played Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, who became the Dalai Lama’s tutor in 1948.

What the film did not cover was his earlier involvement in the Nazi party, which he joined in 1938. He never fought in the war, because he went on a mountaineering expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1939 and ended up in an internment camp in India when fighting broke out.

Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (L), the first to climb the Eiger's north face, talks to the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 80th birthday in Huettenberg in Austria's southern Carinthia province in July 1992. AUSTRIA HARRER

Playing flawed characters is something that fascinates Pitt (his character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may have murdered his wife) – as well as society’s reaction to them.

“We now immediately toss people aside for something they did 30 years ago, instead of looking at who they are now and what they have learnt,” he says. “We’re all goddamn human, for Christ’s sake. We should be supporting each other’s growth and missteps, because everyone’s made them to some degree or the other.

“I understand there are certain crimes, and crimes must be paid for. I’m not denying that in any way. But I’m interested in where the person ended up.”

Read more: Brad Pitt reveals why he quit drinking

The actor’s comments come not long after the revelations that he went to Alcoholics Anonymous to help him quit drinking after he split with Angelina Jolie in 2016.