Movie Flashback: 17 Years Ago Audiences Went Back Into The Future with Brad Pitt
12.31.12 by Chris
Everyone loves a good time travel movie and moviegoers got a good one with this thriller that starred two of the biggest stars on the planet.
Twelve Monkeys, which had its wide release this week 17 years ago, starred Bruce Willis and a slightly crazy Brad Pitt. Directed by Terry Gilliam, Willis plays a convict who is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. Pitt, who plays a mental patient, won a Golden Globe for his performance and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The movie is actually based on the 1962 short film La jetée by Chris Marker. The 28-minute short film was made almost entirely from still photos and tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. Universal acquired the rights and hired Gilliam, who's adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities had just fallen through. to direct. The movie was shot in Philadelphia and Baltimore, where the story was set. Though Gilliam typically prefers to direct his own scripts he agreed to Twelve Monkeys because he found the script "intriguing and intelligent."
The story is disconcerting. It deals with time, madness and a perception of what the world is or isn't. It is a study of madness and dreams, of death and re-birth, set in a world coming apart.
Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges were initially considered for Willis and Pitt's roles, respectively. Gilliam originally believed that Pitt was not right for the role of Goines, but the casting director convinced him otherwise. Pitt spent months at Temple University's hospital, studying the psychiatric ward to prepare for the role.
Because Twelve Monkeys was filmed before Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Legends of the Fall, and Se7en was released, Pitt was still relatively unknown and was cast for a relatively small salary, but by the time of 12 Monkeys was released Pitt was an A-list actor, which helped the movie's box office gross. The movie was a big hit for Universal, earning $168 million on a small $29 million budget.
Where to Watch: 12 Monkeys is available on DVD and is streaming on Amazon Prime.