Sexual tension, a “reified” Brad Pitt and an actress who preferred to retire: behind the scenes of Legends of the Fall

In Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt played Tristan Ludlow, the second of the three sons of the colonel played by Anthony Hopkins. Brad Pitt was the rebellious son, the adventurer and the handsome

Plato wrote in the Feast, perhaps one of his best known works, that if “there is something worth living for, it is to contemplate beauty”. The Greek philosopher was not only referring to what causes us sensual pleasure, but also to everything that causes us approval or admiration, what fascinates and pleases us in any of its forms. We do not know if the producers of Passion legends they read Plato but without a doubt they were very clear about the concept of beauty when they summoned Brad Pitt to get under the skin of tristan.

Filming the film was not an idea that came “from one day to the next” or a project done in a hurry. In 1979 the writer Jim Harrison published the novel Legends Of The Fall, when reading it Edward Zwick American director, screenwriter and producer thought it would be a wonderful story to adapt to the big screen. No studio was thrilled with his enthusiasm. Only in 1993 and after Zwick showed his talent directing that epic story about the Civil War that was times of glory, Tristar Pictures decided to finance his project.

Passion legends It seemed to have everything to capture the public of the 90s, especially the female one. An authentic melodrama, with violence, confrontations, exalted feelings and little deepening in the characters or twists in the script. One of those stories designed to have a good time and that, although they are not unforgettable, make us forget for a while about unpaid bills, traffic problems and whether or not we are going on vacation.

As it was a melodrama and not an action movie with shots and a lot of testosterone, it was thought that those indicated to star in it were Tom Cruise Y Sean Connery, but both rejected the proposal. Next to fill the role of tristan it was Johnny Deep but he was embarked on other projects. So it was offered to Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt was already known but in Legends of the Fall he ended up dazzling critics, audiences and producers (Photo: Barry King/WireImage)
Brad Pitt was already known but in Legends of the Fall he ended up dazzling critics, audiences and producers (Photo: Barry King/WireImage)

Pitt signed the contract convinced that it would tell “a very spiritual love-hate story.” However, unwittingly or unintentionally, the film ended up becoming a project designed around the actor. The blond had finished filming interview with the vampire, and came from garnering as much attention as sighs in Thelma & Louise, Johnny Suede, The river of life Y California. Although the films followed one another and his name began to be well known, he still lacked the accolade that would make him the most popular actor on the entire planet.

Aware of his skills as an actor but also of his undeniable looks, Pitt agreed to show off his hair in the wind, but not only that. The number of scenes at the service of his beauty is striking. He rides without a shirt and always when the breeze favors his mane more; when he tames a mare, far from appearing as a sweaty guy his image projects a brazen sensuality, the close-ups of his face are meant to behold him rather than plot. Not only did Pitt agree to let his hair grow long, he also wore the same hat with which he had appeared in Thelma and Louise and that so many joys brought him / us.

Legends of the Fall narrated more through visual language than with script lines (Photo: Liaison)
Legends of the Fall narrated more through visual language than with script lines (Photo: Liaison)

To further highlight his appearance, the producers chose to support him with a group of actors with human and not supernatural beauties. Anthony Hopkins he was already old. Aidan Quinn already had a discreet pint Henry Thomas it was impossible not to remember him as Elliot in ET.

Pitt was aware of the double game that was proposed to him: to enter the Olympus of Hollywood taking advantage of his godlike beauty. From that effort to get to the top of Hollywood while respecting his game, Julia Ormond, her co-star, would recall: “It was fascinating to see how deep inside Brad was a character actor who resisted being shirtless, but at the same time understood what they wanted from him. He’s also smart enough to know who he is and feel comfortable in that role.”

If the male leads shouldn’t outshine Pitt with their beauty, the female lead shouldn’t outshine him with her role. They looked for an actress not very well known, Gwyneth Paltrow It was an option but it was discarded. Someone suggested the name of Julia Ormond, an English actress. They summoned her.

Brad Pitt and Julia Ormond never confirmed or denied the rumors of romance between them (Shutterstock)
Brad Pitt and Julia Ormond never confirmed or denied the rumors of romance between them (Shutterstock)

On the day of the casting she surprised them because she was not very tall nor did she impose herself with her presence. However, she reached with a camera test to understand that she was the one. The English woman transmitted that mixture of femininity with bravery that they were looking for. She could perfectly play that girl who was the protagonist of a love triangle as fascinating as it was guilty.

The film had a budget of 30 million dollars. Although the story took place in Montana, they decided to shoot it in Alberta, Canada. Canadian landscapes managed to convey that mixture of unspoiled, untamed and fascinating nature that the story required. The photography was so good that its director John Toll would take the Oscar in that category.

What few knew is that the chosen place was a problem. They had been assured that it was an area where the rains were not frequent, which guaranteed many days of work in the open air. However, something went wrong and that year it rained above average, which made filming difficult and delayed all the scenes.

In the midst of the tedium caused by the scenes suspended due to bad weather, an unusual cheerleader emerged: Julia. The actress loved to sing and she did it very, very well. She told everyone that when she started acting she starred in several musical comedies, plus since she had recently quit smoking she had regained her voice. In the forced breaks, she sang and everyone ended up applauding her. So much so that more than once they thanked her that it rained just to hear her sing.

The female characters hardly have any weight in the plot of Legends of the Fall
The female characters hardly have any weight in the plot of Legends of the Fall

When the actress did not sing or act, she took the opportunity to do gymnastics and drink a lot of yogurt, something that amazed all the members of the team more accustomed to drinking sodas or coffee. When Ormond was asked why she worked out so much, she said that she had studied for three years at the Webber Douglas Academy in London and assured with a smile that “with the training I did I could even become an athlete”.

Like Susannah, Julia had to impact not only Samuel (Henry Thomas) her fiancé, also to the untamed tristan and the sensible alfred (AidanQuinn). To achieve that unmanageable attraction, Pitt and Ormond were instructed to share the same house throughout filming. “It added charge to the sexual tension, I’ll just say that,” Pitt said, but like every gentleman he did not explain more.

The ex-husband of Angelina Jolie he was always very respectful of Ormond. “There was a lot of care between us. Before our intimate scenes we wondered if there was something not to do. ‘If you touch me, you’re going to have problems,’ I warned him” Julia told in an interview, and then burst out laughing.

The rumors of romance between the two protagonists began to intensify. It was said that once they stopped recording and all the technicians left, they stayed to complete what was not indicated in the script. Whether or not there was something between the two, it was forever saved. They neither confirmed nor denied it.

The tape brims with sensuality between Brad Pitt and Ormond
The tape brims with sensuality between Brad Pitt and Ormond

When the film was released, critics praised the performances of Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Julia Ormond but emphasized the simplicity of the plot. The title wasn’t very catchy either. They did highlight the soundtrack of the film made by james horner that accompanied without overshadowing.

The film did launch Brad Pitt to megafame, who has since inhabited the Olympus of Hollywood’s human gods. Different but no less interesting was the path of Ormond. After legends filmed the first knight with Sean Connery Y Richard Gere and then sabrina with Harrison Ford. However, her star faded, so much so that those of us who discovered her as Marie Calvetthe unpleasant mother-in-law of Don Draper in Mad Men we had to check whether or not it was her.

Doing some research we learned that after being compared and losing with Audrey Hepburn for his role in sabrina -who wouldn’t lose to Hepburn, the reader will wonder- and starring in those two box-office flops that were Smila, mystery in the snow Y The Siberian Barber, the actress decided to move away from big projects and work on independent films. Her decision was also a product of the fact that those who live in a dream felt like a nightmare: the red carpets. “I was the typical girl who hated wearing the Sunday dress to church. I rarely wear dresses, but I understood that photocalls were part of my job, ”she confessed without guilt.

Brad Pitt was 31 years old when he filmed Legends of the Fall (Photo by Liaison)
Brad Pitt was 31 years old when he filmed Legends of the Fall (Photo by Liaison)

Although he moved away from glamour, he did not do so from commitment. He took advantage of his fame to give voice to different causes, such as the fight against human trafficking or human rights. She is the founder of an NGO called ASSET Campaign, which works precisely to guarantee the fulfillment of these rights. In 1996 she produced Calling the Ghostsa documentary in which she denounced how Muslim women were tortured during the war in Yugoslavia.

One of the phrases of the film assured that “some people hear their inner voice and live only from what they hear. Those people go crazy or become legends.” Whether he became a Hollywood superstar like Pitt or an engaged woman like Ormond, there’s no denying that they both heard his inner voice. It is up to the reader to consider them legends or not.

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Sexual tension, a “reified” Brad Pitt and an actress who preferred to retire: behind the scenes of Legends of the Fall