The meaning of Brad Pitt — as actor, star and supreme visual fetish — can be traced to the moment in the 1991 film, Thelma & Louise, when the camera pans up from his bare chest to his face like a caress.

William Bradley Pitt was born in 1963, but Brad Pitt sprang forth in that 13-second ode to eroticised male beauty, initiating a closely watched career and life, dozens of movies, and libraries of delirious exaltations, drooling gossip and porny magazine layouts.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt at the 2020 SAG Awards held in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt at the 2020 SAG Awards held in Los Angeles.Credit:Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The delirium has resumed with Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, in which Pitt plays the Pitt-perfect role of Cliff Booth, a seasoned stuntman and coolest of cats. Everything about Cliff looks so good, so effortlessly smooth, whether he’s behind the wheel of a Coupe de Ville or strolling across a dusty wasteland.

Novelist Walter Kirn once wrote that Robert Redford “stands for the (movie) industry itself, somehow, in all its California dreaminess”. In Once Upon a Time, Tarantino recasts that idea-ideal with Cliff, exploiting Pitt’s looks and charm to create another sun-kissed, golden and very white California dream.

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