This Is How Brad Pitt Got Fight-Ready At 55-Years-Old For Tarantino’s New Flick
Today, the males whom we look to with aspirational goals of shredded torsos and well-buffed limbs are those you’d come to expect: Dwayne Johnson is certainly up there, along with his co-star Jason Statham. Of course, should Hugh Jackman find himself having to don unkempt facial hair and claws, he tends to draw the adoring gaze of male fans, too.
But these are, for the most part, the physiques we’ve come to expect of the Hollywood action star. Theirs are bodies honed to physical perfection, able to endure the gruelling demands of their craft – both in the script and for the screen.
It’s been some time since we’ve seen the name Brad Pitt ushered in the same muscular vein as these stars, but a mere gaze at the star’s catalogue of films is to see that Pitt was always the shirtless standard.
His role as Tyler Durden in 1999’s Fight Club was iconic and spawned a popular Google search of people asking: “how to get a body like brad pitt fight club [sic]”. FYI, there are over 17.9 million results. Of course there was Troy, Snatch, and Fury, too.
At 55-years-old, Pitt might not have an Instagram to share gym-selfies and shirtless abs appreciation posts, but he certainly has retained his incredible physique and dedication to fitness. Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood may have seen an ensemble cast like Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie share the screen, but all anyone seems to be talking about is the fact that Pitt is fit. Really fit.
As the ex-military stuntman Cliff Booth, the role required Pitt to engage in his own stunt sequences. The base physicality was already there, as Pitt makes an effort to retain his fitness even when not filming. But when the script includes a number of fights, including one with Bruce Lee, Pitt had to be prepared for war (of the onscreen variety). Stunt supervisor Zoe Bell, who has earned multiple nominations for her knife battle in Kill Bill: Volume 1, set up a training space by the movie’s production offices in Los Angeles where Pitt and veteran fighter coordinator Rob Alonzo could practice martial arts at all times of the day.
In an interview with Men’s Journal, Bell says of Pitt’s routine, “We were ready for him whenever he was free.” Typically, Pitt trained before or after a full day of shooting and was left in the capable hands of Alonzo who trained the actor in martial arts.
“I didn’t want him just going through the motions,” said Alonzo. “I knew that if Brad learned the principles of martial arts – like timing, special awareness, and range – he would be able to flow in the scenes much more naturally, like a real fighter would.”
So, just how do you get the Brad Pitt body? That physique which is taught, tight and strong? Look no further, fellas. Here’s Pitt’s Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood training regime.
Alonzo ensured Pitt was properly warmed-up prior to exercise by engaging in a “dynamic warm-up flow,” or what he calls “yoga for combat.” This flow is one centred on foundational martial arts positions such as the following: horse stance, back stance, front stance.
As Alonzo suggests, be mindful of the exercise and your breathing. This warm-up is designed to encourage entire body movement and improve flexibility, something that’s crucial in martial arts as rigidity and strain leads to injury. “It’s more than a warm-up or stretch,” Alonzo said to Men’s Journal, “It was a way for him to prepare mentally, and it’s also great for conditioning. If you’re doing it right, you’re sweating by the end.”
The type of martial arts Pitt focused on was what Alonzo calls “Filipino martial arts”, which includes stick work. Pitt’s character specialised in knives and close-quarter combat, so it was crucial that Pitt had the knowledge and skill to be more fine-tuned to quick, precise movement and was able to protect his vital organs while fighting.
Mike Moh, the actor who portrays Bruce Lee in the Tarantino film, was later brought in to the martial arts sessions. Alonzo notes that it brought the sequences “to life” as Moh’s taekwondo background (he’s been a practitioner of the craft for over two decades) allowed him to sync into the movements with Pitt seamlessly.
To avoid routine, Pitt and Alonzo also did traditional mitt work. Pitt has already demonstrated his boxing prowess in films like Snatch and Fight Club, so the skill and basework was already there. The pair were able to build on this, incorporating hammer fists and more reactive work, like counter-for-counter flows into the session.