monday morning movie club

World War Z’s Biggest Mystery: What Was Up With Brad Pitt’s Hair?

Brad Pitt in ‘World War Z.’

Thank goodness World War Z is getting a sequel, because the first movie left one enormous plot strand dangling: We never found out why Brad Pitt’s hair is so scene-stealingly long! As ex–United Nations investigator Gerry Lane, Pitt rocks a shoulder-length do that practically invites florid description; Critic Richard Roeper led his video review of the movie by deeming it “a dubious haircut that makes [Pitt] look like a drag queen in the very early stages of figuring out who he is in this life.” (Well, that is definitely a thing to say!) What could have been the motivation behind Pitt’s conspicuous coiffure? Since last month’s tell-all Vanity Fair cover story declined to offer any helpful hair-related tidbits, we can only offer four of our own theories for them locks.

To Get Back to His Roots
Brad Pitt used to be one of our very best Hair Actors, a thespian who could be counted on to always radically alter his hair for a role. Just think of his Johnny Suede pompadour, or his focus-pulling “I’m the pretty one” mane in Legends of the Fall, or even his Michelle Williams pixie cut in Seven Years in Tibet! And yet, ever since Pitt put the nineties behind him, he’s kept his hair neat and orderly (save for one moment of long-haired lustrousness in 2004’s Troy, where he was sadly upstaged by his own abs). It’s only fair that as Pitt approaches his 50th birthday this year (related: you are old), he might hope to recapture some of his former follicular glory on the big screen. Let’s not forget that Harrison Ford got an earring in his fifties; let Brad have his own midlife-crisis thing.

To Cover Up Plot Holes
Yes, much of the U.S. government was wiped out in World War Z’s scene-setting zombie attacks, but is Brad Pitt really the only person left who can save the world? He’s a mumbly retiree who sleeps in! To justify the sudden decision to basically shove Pitt off that aircraft carrier with barely a “Good luck, buddy,” it makes a lot more sense if you imagine that government officials were just conspiring to get Brad Pitt out of the room so they could gossip about his hair. “Shoulder length? What is with that guy?”

To Express Solidarity With a Woman
We know that Pitt often adopts the haircut of a woman close to him; he famously pulled off the “Rachel” while dating Jennifer Aniston, and you may recall that while courting Gwyneth Paltrow, he also rocked her asymmetrical “judging you” bob. “But Kyle,” you say after glancing up at the byline to make sure Amanda Dobbins didn’t write this, “Brad’s World War Z haircut doesn’t look much like Angelina’s, so who could he have been patterning himself after?” Who indeed …

To Add Visual Interest
With expensive reshoots looming, Marc Forster was in a quandary. “Brad,” the director told his star, “We need a way to convey the stakes in this movie. How will the audience — “

Brad’s second assistant Serena cut Forster off. “Brad is only communicating with you through an intermediary,” she reminded him.

“Well,” Forster said, his German-Swiss accent gone suddenly flinty, “Will you tell Mr. Pitt that we’re looking for a novel way to convey the stakes in these action sequences? The audience knows that Brad Pitt won’t die, and yet, owing to the nature of these zombie attacks, he also can’t exactly fight back. How will we make the audience understand the gravity of these situations if all Brad ever does is run? How can we make running interesting?”

Before Forster had even finished his last sentence, Pitt silently pulled something from the pocket of his black Givenchy tunic: a small notebook made of loose-leaf sheafs harvested specifically for Pitt via a sustainable paper mill in Uganda founded by his partner, Angelina Jolie. (Remember the loom from Wanted? It’s now a paper press and clean-water generator.) He opened the notebook to a random page and began jotting down a message.

“Sandwich,” Serena recited.

“That’s his answer?” Forster said.

“No, his lunch order.”

Ten minutes later, Forster returned with Pitt’s sandwich, and a suggestion. “Brad, I think — “

Serena waved her hands in the air, attempting to volley back the sound waves that would bring Forster’s unsolicited words to her employer’s ears. “Intermediary,” she warned him, terse.

“Fine,” said Forster. “Please tell Mr. Pitt that I’ve figured out a way to add some much-needed pizazz to the many, many sequences where he must run away from zombies.” He paused for emphasis before the big reveal: “In these scenes, Brad will be wearing a flouncy scarf.”

Without acknowledging his director, Pitt stared into space and began chewing the eraser of his pencil, an eraser that had been specially customized to dispense a nicotine high when nibbled. Finally, he put lead to paper.

Serena peered at Pitt’s notepad. “I have a better idea,” she read out loud.

Pitt walked off set and entered an empty broom closet. As Forster and Serena stood there, waiting for their star, they heard an odd mechanical grinding noise come from the closet, as though the windup key on a music box were being turned with great effort after a decade of disuse.

After three minutes, Pitt emerged from the closet. Somehow, his hair had grown six inches in the interim.

“I’m ready,” he said.

World War Z’s Biggest Mystery: Brad Pitt’s Hair