Brad Pitt has revealed that he spent a year digging up the grounds of his French chateau after falling for a story that it was the site of buried gold.
The Hollywood star said he was approached by a man who told him that the estate could be home to millions of dollars worth of treasure that its mediaeval owner had taken from the Levant during the Crusades.
Pitt bought radar equipment and began scouring his estate. “I got obsessed,” he told GQ magazine. “Like for a year, this was all I could think about, just the excitement of it all.
“Maybe it has something to do with where I grew up, because in the Ozark Mountains there were always stories of hidden caches of gold.”
However, Pitt said he later learned that the man who approached him was promoting a radar company.
The actor said he felt “pretty foolish in the end. It was just the hunt that was exciting.”
Pitt signed a lease for the 1,200-acre Chateau Miraval, in south-eastern France, with his then wife, Angelina Jolie, in 2008 and bought it outright in 2012. They married there in 2014.
In addition to the vineyard, which produces rosé, the property has a private lake, olive groves, a moat and a helicopter pad.
Chateau Miraval is now at the centre of an acrimonious legal battle. Pitt is suing Jolie, accusing her of secretly selling her share of the estate’s vineyard to a Russian oligarch. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year in Los Angeles, he claimed that the couple had an agreement that neither would sell their share without the other party’s approval.
Although Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, the pair have been embroiled in lengthy proceedings ever since. Pitt was granted joint custody of their children last year.
He told GQ that until a year ago he was plagued by a recurring dream of being stabbed, which he put down to feeling lonely.
He added: “I think joy’s been a newer discovery, later in life. I think I spent years with a low-grade depression, and it’s not until coming to terms with that… that I’ve been able to catch those moments of joy.
In the interview, Pitt, 58, said he had reached the final stages of his career.
“I consider myself on my last leg, this last semester or trimester,” he said. Although he will continue to act - his new thriller, Bullet Train, is released next month - he intends to focus on his production company.
He has also made changes to his health, giving up alcohol in 2016 and quitting smoking during lockdown. Referring to David Hockney, the artist and dedicated smoker, Pitt said: “He’s still chaining, the hardcore English way. It looks great.
“I don’t think I have that. I’m just at an age when nothing good comes from it.”
Pitt said that his new hobby, which he developed during lockdown, is making ceramic candlesticks.
The July/August issue of British GQ is available via digital download and on newsstands on 28th June.