While news about Jesse James crawled its way across 19th-century America — compared to today’s lightning-fast Internet — the tone was uncannily comparable to today’s celebrity coverage, Brad Pitt found in reading those old accounts.
Brad Pitt read old tabloid accounts for his role as Jesse James and found much similar with today’s tabloid news.
“I will say, I was surprised to see how tabloid journalism was alive and well even then and operating in the same way, just sensationalizing a complete fabrication of untruths,” said Brad Pitt, who stars as the legendary outlaw in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
“There’s just more of it today. There’s more of it in quantity, but the execution’s the same. In that day, when you only had a newspaper to get your information, that would have been the extent of it. But it doesn’t seem to have changed at all,” Pitt told The Associated Press at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Pitt and Angelina Jolie, stars of the 2005 hit “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” have been the quarry of celebrity photographers and the object of incessant tabloid gossip since they hooked up amid the breakup of Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston. A media vigil preceded the birth of their daughter in Namibia last year, and crowds swelled during the Toronto festival everywhere they went.
In the late 1800s, James was able to move anonymously through America under a series of aliases, but his notoriety was unparalleled. James’ image as a Robin Hood-style bandit of the people — a myth he helped perpetuate himself — had made him a folk hero to the public and a demon to the railroads.