There is so much to love about Brad Pitt: his heartthrob phase in the 90s, his charismatic leading roles in the 2000s, his work producing Oscar-winners like Twelve Years a Slave and Moonlight. One particular aspect of his career that has always fascinated me is how often he eats in his films—and I am by no means the first to notice this. Take, for example, this YouTube video simply called “15 Minutes of Brad Pitt Eating” that compiles many of Pitt’s on-screen snacks and has over one million views.
So, why is he always eating? Some argue that the constant munching is a crutch to improve his acting. However, I firmly believe that it is an ingenious technique Pitt uses to make his characters more relatable. Eating is one of the most human activities; seeing Pitt do something we all do every day helps us forget we are watching a massive movie star. And so, I can think of no better way to honor one of our finest actors than by ranking (in ascending order) the best things he has eaten throughout his legendary film career.
- A rat in Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Based on Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name, this gothic horror film begins with Lestat (Tom Cruise) transforming Louis (Pitt) into a vampire in 1791. Louis becomes so disgusted by how much Lestat enjoys feeding on humans that he vows to only feed on the blood of rats to sustain himself. Though I can’t say watching Louis chomp down on a rat brings me pleasure in the same way that the other foods on this list do, this is a case in which the act of eating is actually integral to Pitt’s character. The actor is fully committed to his portrayal of this tortured immortal, even when he has to take a bite out of a sewage-dwelling rodent.
- Beef stew in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
This epic Western about the relationship between infamous outlaw Jesse James (Pitt) and his star-struck admirer Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) is one of the most underrated movies in Pitt’s filmography. When Robert finally builds up the courage to ask to be included in the James gang’s next robbery, Jesse pays him no attention and remarks only that the beef stew he’s eating could’ve used some noodles. Lack of noodles aside, the stew enables this early scene to uncover all we need to know about the power dynamic between these two characters.
- A turkey leg in Troy (2004)
A specific image of carnivorous consumption has stayed with me ever since I first watched Troy (instead of actually reading the Iliad). After rescuing the princess Briseis (Rose Byrne), Achilles (Pitt) tends to her wounds and offers her a platter of fruits and vegetables. Achilles himself opts for a gigantic turkey leg before stripping and washing himself in front of Briseis. That hunk of meat is integral to this scene that quickly establishes the pair’s romantic chemistry. Pitt tends to avoid parts that capitalize on his good looks, so this is a rare example of on-screen eating that is meant not to humanize him but make him look even more god-like. In that regard, the scene is incredibly successful in my humble opinion.
- Caviar in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Unsurprisingly, aging in reverse makes it very hard to find a girlfriend. That’s what makes the unlikely affair between Benjamin Button (Pitt) and Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton) so special. After they meet in Russia, Elizabeth teaches Benjamin how to properly eat caviar during their first dinner together. They take slow bites in unison to savor the flavor, then wash it down with a sip of vodka. Though his aged appearance suggests he’s already lived a full life, Benjamin is still young at heart and has no experience with women or expensive foods like caviar. The intimate meal is luxurious enough to distract you from the bizarreness of an old-looking young man who ages backwards.
- A baguette in Inglourious Basterds (2009)
One of the most memorable characters from Quentin Tarantino’s World War II film is Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz (Eli Roth). The Bear Jew is a member of the Basterds, a special unit of Jewish-American soldiers assembled by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Pitt), and is widely feared among the Germans for his weapon of choice: a baseball bat. As the Bear Jew puts his bat to use on some Gestapo officers, Aldo casually snacks on a fluffy, buttery baguette. The ease with which Aldo barks deadly orders through a mouth full of bread will send a shiver down your spine and craving for carbs to your stomach.
- Peanut butter in Meet Joe Black (1998)
In this fantasy film, Death comes to take the soul of Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) but decides to stay on earth for a few extra days by inhabiting the body of the recently-deceased Joe Black (Pitt). While on this “vacation,” Death becomes fascinated with all that life on earth has to offer—especially food. Pitt gets to exercise his often-underused comedic skills when Death tries peanut butter for the first time, inhaling spoonful after spoonful in childlike wonderment. The scene is almost amusing enough to make a visit from the grim reaper seem not too bad.
- Pot roast in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
Pot roast has never been sexier… or scarier. In this iconic action movie, John (Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) are a bored upper middle class couple who are both undercover assassins from competing agencies. After being assigned to kill each other, their suspicions reach a boiling point when Jane prepares a pot roast, John’s favorite, for dinner. Beyond looking tasty, the roast enables Jane to use her housewife role to emasculate her husband and make him vulnerable to her possibly poisonous cooking. This dinner scene alone has enough tension to make it clear why Pitt and Jolie’s on-screen chemistry spilled over into real life, as well.
- Mac and cheese in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading character actor in the 1960s who uses his longtime stuntman, Cliff Booth (Pitt), for a little bit of everything: a personal driver, a handyman, a house-sitter. But Cliff’s most important job is just being a buddy for Rick. Cliff is supportive, goes with the flow, and is overall a good hang. The best example of Cliff’s relaxed vibe comes in a scene where he makes some instant macaroni and cheese and eats it right out of the pot while settling on his couch to watch some late-night TV. Is this the specific scene that won Pitt his first acting Oscar? Probably not. But is it one of the most mouth-watering mac and cheeses ever committed to film? Absolutely.
- Nachos, a cheeseburger, a shrimp cocktail, a fruit salad, and much more in Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
It’s impossible to choose just one food that Rusty Ryan (Pitt) eats over the course of this heist movie. The Oceans franchise is when viewers really started to take note of Pitt’s affinity for eating. In nearly every scene, Rusty has something edible in his hands. Pitt obviously does not have to try hard to make Rusty seem like the coolest con-man around, but the constant snacking gives Rusty a laid-back vibe that contrasts with the high-stakes situations he and his partner Danny Ocean (George Clooney) get into. After all, you can’t expect Rusty to rob the Bellagio on an empty stomach.
- A Twinkie in Moneyball (2011)
Like in Ocean’s Eleven, Pitt eats in almost every scene of this sports biopic. As general manager of the Oakland Athletics in 2002, Billy Beane (Pitt) has a lot on his plate—literally. At his desk, during meetings, or on the road, Billy is always stress-eating popcorn or candy, among many other snacks. Unlike Ocean’s Eleven, however, there is one particular food that triumphs over the others in Moneyball—a Twinkie. It isn’t the Twinkie itself that is so special, but the way that he scarfs it down in just two bites. With Billy being a former baseball player himself, Pitt is entirely believable as a retired athlete turned manager who cares deeply about his team. Billy never sits still and the expediency of this particular ingestion is yet another example of Pitt’s unparalleled eating skills that bring each and every one of his characters to life.