Brad and Jennifer and Me
11 August 2003
You can imagine the reaction when Tim's sister-in-law told us the news. Mr & Mrs Pitt rumoured to be house-hunting in Amsterdam - the sort of story that raises excitement and disbelief in more or less equal measure, not to mention baffling tabloid headline writers everywhere. The typically insipid efforts were mainly of the 'Brad 'n' Jen to go Dutch' variety (though Dominic Mohan did at least attempt something a little different with his 'top ten Brad films', from 'Twelve Junkies' to 'Red Light Club'), before the story pretty much disappeared.
That is, until Matt forwarded me an email sent to the general upsideclown address, shortly after I let slip my location. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just saying he was a regular clown reader, moving to the area with his missus, would like to meet people with a sense of humour who knew cool places to hang out. Signed 'Brad', with a PS to 'keep it under your hat - if you've got one'. I arranged to meet him in Rookies in two weeks' time, and headed straight for the chapeau shop.
It was still a surprise when he agreed to be interviewed for my next article. OK, I'd prepped him well when we were chatting about the site (how everyone knows it's 90% bullshit and takes everything with a giant pinch of salt and no one would believe it blah blah blah), and we were already three reefers and several biertjes in; but his readiness still caught me off guard. It would have been the ultimate piece of gonzo journalism - think Parkie on mushrooms - if only I'd brought a pen, or several more of my faculties.
I remember snippets, though. Like getting him to admit he'd fancied Courtney Cox more to start with (though quickly defected to camp Aniston when the former went all bony and neurotic). How it's nigh-on impossible to kiss Julia Roberts convincingly on screen ('That mouth, it's so fucking big man!'). How he failed to woo Shania Twain despite his identity, his TVR and his intellect, not to mention the gift of a black silk negligee ('I was like, it's not supposed to keep you warm. It's supposed to look good on the floor when I'm banging you! Ah, fuck her anyway man. Psycho.'). You'd never have thought a big star would be such a top fella. Got the hang of the 'one for the road' rule pretty quick as well.
And you should have seen his face when he staggered into our living room, later that evening, to see Mike prone on the couch, spliff in hand, just about able to raise his head and mutter a 'what the...'. Brad swore it was just like seeing himself in the rushes for True Romance, wouldn't stop calling him Floyd for the whole evening. When he came round the next day, he even brought a gift of some cleaning products. Like I said, top fella.
But it was the Jennifer question that troubled me. Despite Brad's assurances ('She's cool, man'), I wondered how she'd react to her hubby's newfound association to a clique so different from her usual glamour set, when she came out a month later after filming. Would she head back to LA in a flash, dragging him straight back & into rehab?
I needn't have worried. She walked into our flat, announcing 'Hi, I'm Jen' - as if we needed telling - and proceeded to show herself to be so totally charming and self-deprecating that you just couldn't help but fall in love with her. What I couldn't have anticipated - wouldn't even have dared to dream of - was the same thing happening to her.
In my own typically charming and self-deprecating way, I thought she was just being polite. She laughed at my jokes, complimented my cooking and warmly took the piss out of the disaster I'd just rolled up.
[Hold on. I am starting to feel a worrying amount of gush coming up. I'm going to write this all down on paper, get it out of my system, and leave you with something you can read without wanting to punch my smug, loved-up face in. Suffice to say there was a moment, call it the thunderbolt, the coup de foudre or whatever, where we both realised, blah blah blah.]
After that, each time we were alone together my refrain became 'Don't say it', just like the scriptwriters of Eastenders managed to avoid bringing up Mark Fowler's HIV for months, years on end. But you can only ignore these things for so long.
To cut a long story short, their marriage didn't work out. False rumours of flings with respective co-stars, clashing shooting schedules, numerous magazine articles about Hollywood marriages being doomed to failure, the usual reactions - though this was the first time I'd seen the effects close-up, and was grateful for once for my lack of fame. I don't know how much Jen had to do with the rumours arising; if she did set it up, I was just glad I wasn't going to go through my life as 'the one who stole Brad Pitt's bird'.
So, about a month later, Brad came to see me. He'd been talking to Jen - still friends, and close, which was painful but a relief - and said she'd been sounding him out about my feelings for her. So honest - he said he was torn between the jealous protective instincts of an ex and a desire to see two friends get together. I asked him how he'd feel about it - he looked me straight in the eye, without a hint of accusation, and told me her wanted her to be happy. Again - top fella.
Now, one month later, here we are. The first rays of sunlight are streaming in through my Velux window, lighting up your golden skin, your head resting on my chest, my right hand resting on the 'luscious Greek ass' you're so proud of (and not without good reason, I might add). Moments like this every morning, lying here naked together sheltered from the rest of the world, are the type of memory I know I'm going to hoard for my later years. The look in your eyes as you stir in half-sleep, start to raise your head and ask me the question anyone in my position fears: