Brad Pitt has become one of the biggest movie stars in the world over his decades-long career. However, even mega-stars have humble beginnings. One of Pitt’s early starring roles was in the 1991 indie film Johnny Suede. While the movie wasn’t a big hit, it revealed a surprising talent of Pitt’s – his ability to sing.
Brad Pitt’s Early Career And Nabbing The Johnny Suede Role
Prior to Johnny Suede, Brad Pitt had played small roles in TV shows and movies like Growing Pains and Less Than Zero. Looking to move into leading man roles, Pitt auditioned for a movie called Johnny Suede.
The film followed an aspiring rockabilly singer named Johnny Suede. Director Tom DiCillo had to fight to get Pitt cast as Johnny. The studio wanted a more established actor. However, DiCillo was determined that Pitt had the right look and acting chops to bring his character to life.
DiCillo got his way, and Pitt was cast as the titular character in his first starring role. Also featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Johnny Suede gave Pitt a chance to show what he could do as a leading man.
Johnny Suede Underwhelmed At The Box Office But Revealed Pitt’s Talent
When Johnny Suede debuted in 1991, it failed to make much of an impact. The indie film only grossed about $100,000 at the box office. Reviews were mixed too. However, most critics praised Pitt’s committed performance as Johnny.
Despite its commercial failure, Johnny Suede marked the emergence of Pitt as a serious actor to watch. The Hollywood Reporter said Pitt’s work in the film was “every bit as good as his turn in Thelma & Louise” that same year.
Though the movie itself faded away, Pitt’s obvious on-screen charisma and talent caught the attention of Hollywood. It was clear he was destined for stardom.
Fans Were Surprised By Pitt’s Singing Voice
While Johnny Suede didn’t rely on Pitt singing a ton of songs, he did perform a couple musical numbers in the film. This revealed that Pitt had some pipes behind his matinee idol looks.
The scenes of Pitt singing as Johnny Suede have racked up over 124,000 views on YouTube. Fans seem shocked to discover Pitt’s decent singing voice in the comments.
One viewer wrote: “Brad Pitt can sing!? Whaaat!”
Another commenter added: “Wow, he sings quite well, didn’t expect that!”
Pitt has rarely showed off his singing skills in subsequent films. So Johnny Suede offers a rare look at this hidden talent of his.
Director And Studio Clashed Over Movie’s Streaming Release
After its initial theatrical run, Johnny Suede was largely forgotten for many years. However, the film resurfaced decades later when it was made available on Netflix’s streaming platform.
This led to a clash between director Tom DiCillo and Miramax studios. DiCillo was upset to find an eight-minute scene featuring music by Link Wray removed from the Netflix version.
The issue stemmed from complications over music licensing rights. But Miramax and Netflix worked quickly to resolve the matter. The Link Wray songs were restored and DiCillo got to re-edit the movie for its streaming release.
“It’s distilled and improves the film so much,” DiCillo told The Hollywood Reporter about his director’s cut.
Harvey Weinstein Championed Pitt’s Talents Early On
Despite the streaming rights quarrel, Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein was highly complimentary of Johnny Suede and Pitt’s performance.
Weinstein said he loved DiCillo’s film and credited the director with recognizing Pitt’s talents and potential for stardom early on.
“I’ve always loved Johnny Suede and Tom’s originality and unique qualities as a filmmaker,” Weinstein commented. “He discovered Brad Pitt with this movie.”
Pitt and Weinstein would work together on several hit films over the ensuing decades like Inglourious Basterds. So Weinstein had been a supporter of Pitt’s from his little-seen early movies like Johnny Suede onwards.
How Did Brad Pitt Go From Johnny Suede To Superstardom?
Within a few years of Johnny Suede, Pitt’s fame exploded thanks to films like A River Runs Through It, Interview with the Vampire, and Legends of the Fall. But it was his sexy breakout role in 1991’s Thelma & Louise that really put him on the path to superstardom.
Pitt played the hunky drifter J.D. who romances Geena Davis’ character. Though only a supporting role, it cemented Pitt’s status as an irresistible Hollywood heartthrob. From there, his star continued rising.
By the late 1990s, Pitt was considered one of the most desirable men in the world. Movies like Fight Club and Ocean’s Eleven turned him into an A-list movie star. His high-profile marriage to Jennifer Aniston kept him constantly in the public eye.
Over 30 years after his humble start in Johnny Suede, Pitt remains a huge celebrity, producer, and acting force to be reckoned with. His early promise shown in the film paid off in spades.
Was Brad Pitt’s Singing Voice Auto-Tuned In Johnny Suede?
Some viewers have speculated that Pitt’s singing voice in Johnny Suede sounded too polished, and must have been auto-tuned in post-production. However, there is no evidence to suggest Pitt’s vocals were pitch-corrected or enhanced with auto-tune on the soundtrack.
Director Tom DiCillo has never indicated that Pitt’s singing needed auto-tuning. The actor took voice lessons to prepare for the musical performance scenes. It seems Pitt’s raw vocal chops were decent enough to pull off the songs featured in the film without technological enhancements.
How Did Pitt’s Singing In Johnny Suede Compare To His Other Films?
Aside from his minor singing parts in Johnny Suede, Brad Pitt has sung on screen just a few times over his long career.
In the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? Pitt recorded vocals for his character Everett’s songs in the film. The country/folk soundtrack album for the film became a surprise hit.
Pitt also sang a few lines of Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up” in the Guy Ritchie comedy Snatch. Most recently, he performed the romantic ballad “Hold On” in 2019’s sci-fi film Ad Astra.
Fans noted Pitt sounded a bit raw and untrained vocally in Johnny Suede compared to those later film performances. But he seemed to improve with coaching and experience over time.
What Other Hidden Talents Does Brad Pitt Possess?
In addition to his underrated singing ability, Brad Pitt has some other lesser-known skills and hobbies.
- He is an avid sculptor and has showcased his work publicly.
- Pitt has a passion for architecture and even considered it as a career path.
- He is interested in landscaping and garden design.
- Pitt has competed in track and field events for charity.
- He reportedly loves playing pranks on co-stars behind the scenes.
- Pitt is skilled at playing a variety of musical instruments.
- He has earned a private pilot’s license to fly planes.
So beyond his acting, Pitt has artistic talents and eclectic interests that keep him engaged off-screen as well.
What Other Obscure Early Roles Did Pitt Have?
Movie buffs looking to find early gems featuring Brad Pitt have some other obscure films to check out from before his big breakout:
- Hunk (1987) – One of Pitt’s first on-screen roles as a stray man who gets caught up with a woman’s shady businessman husband.
- Happy Together (1989) – Pitt has a small supporting part in this Patrick Dempsey-led romantic comedy.
- Cutting Class (1989) – Pitt plays a high school basketball player in this cheesy horror thriller.
- Glory Days (1990) – Short-lived TV series starring Pitt as a shy college graduate pursuing journalism.
- Cool World (1992) – Pitt has an uncredited cameo as a GI in this bizarre live action/animation hybrid.
These early performances show Pitt getting his feet wet in Hollywood before becoming a huge star.
What Other Future Stars Appeared In Johnny Suede?
Aside from Pitt, Johnny Suede proved an early showcase for a few other rising talents in Hollywood:
- Samuel L. Jackson landed his first sizeable film role as Johnny’s flashy friend B-Bop. Quentin Tarantino would later cast Jackson in Pulp Fiction, launching his career.
- Calvin Levels, who played club owner Percy, later appeared in films like Cop Land and Rounders.
- Alison Moir, who played Yvonne, went on to perform in The Doors, About Last Night…, and on TV’s Six Feet Under.
So Johnny Suede gave first glimpses of several actors who would become more famous faces over time.
Was A Soundtrack Album Ever Released For Johnny Suede?
Though Brad Pitt and others sang musical numbers in the film, no official soundtrack album was ever released for Johnny Suede.
Director Tom DiCillo incorporated rockabilly songs like “Red Hot” by Billy Lee Riley and “Boppin’ the Blues” by Carl Perkins into the movie. But the recordings were covers by the cast, not the original artists.
With the movie failing to gain much mainstream attention in 1991, there was apparently little demand for a Johnny Suede soundtrack release. However, bootleg versions of the film’s song covers have turned up online over the years.
How Has Pitt Discussed His Singing Over The Years?
Despite showing off decent singing chops in Johnny Suede, Brad Pitt has remained humble over the years about his vocal abilities.
When preparing for his musical numbers as drifter Everett in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Pitt admitted he needed extensive voice training.
“I’m not a singer at all,” he told CNN in 2000. “I had to go and get vocal lessons so I didn’t sound too much like a bag of cats getting thrown against a wall.”
When asked on Inside the Actors Studio about his favorite sound, Pitt cited Jeff Buckley’s amazing voice.
“I know as an actor I have a limited range vocally,” Pitt said. “I wish I had that voice, are you kidding me?”
So while Pitt may downplay his singing skills, at least he was bold enough to showcase them back when he was just starting out in Johnny Suede.
Brad Pitt has enjoyed one of the most successful acting careers ever over the past three decades. Though he’s now one of Hollywood’s most famous stars, he started out in smaller indie films like 1991’s Johnny Suede.
The role let Pitt display surprising singing talent as a rockabilly musician. But while his voice impressed audiences, the film itself failed to draw much notice. Still, Pitt’s obvious on-screen magnetism was evident.
Within just a few years, his breakout part in Thelma & Louise would launch Pitt into the stratosphere of movie stardom. He never looked back from that point on.
So fans wanting to see overlooked sides of Brad Pitt as a performer should check out Johnny Suede. It offers an intriguing early glimpse of his talents that he’d soon parlay into becoming one of the biggest male actors in the world.