30 years ago today, Brad Pitt went bad and failed miserably 3 weeks ago

30 years ago today, Brad Pitt went bad and failed miserably

If this movie had succeeded, we might have seen a very different movie CV for Brad.

Over the course of his career, Brad Pitt has played some bad guys, but normally they're far from the worst guys in the room. From loveable criminals in the likes of Ocean's Eleven and Snatch, to distraught creatures in Meet Joe Black and Interview With A Vampire, to circumstantial protagonists in 12 Monkeys and The Assassination of Jesse James, Pitt really nails the shading of villainy.


We're not counting Fight Club in this list, because... well... spoilers, but to date, Pitt has only ever really played one purely villainous, hateful character in his impressive CV, and that was Kalifornia.

Released in cinemas on 3 September 1993, Pitt was reportedly looking to actively disrupt the "pretty boy" image that he had built up for himself at the start of his career following Thelma & Louise and A River Runs Through It. He absolutely gets that role here, playing a psychopath on a murderous road trip with his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis, who was in a relationship with Pitt at the time), who end up on a ride-share with a journalist (David Duchovney) and his photography girlfriend (Michelle Forbes), who happen to be investigating serial killers.

Originally written as a dark comedy, director Dominic Sena decided to turn it into into a much darker, more violent thriller, following the success of The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. Sena, who was best known at the time for directing pop music videos for Janet Jackson, reportedly put the script through eleven different rewrites before landing on the final draft.


And then the shoot was beset by floods, awful desert motels, and a 7.5 earthquake. Producer Steve Golin told The Los Angeles Times: "They freaked. Cranes and lights . . . the place just started rocking. It lasted about 10 minutes, the road was waving like the deck of a boat in a storm."

When the movie did finally finish shooting and get shown to critics, the reaction was mixed. 59% on Rotten Tomatoes was indicitative of the middle-of-the-road response, but famed critic Roger Ebert gave the movie his full four-out-of-four stars, and said that Pitt gave "[one] of the most harrowing and convincing performances I've ever seen", while comparing director Sena's first movie to early career Scorsese.

Arriving in cinemas, audiences had a different reaction, as the movie opened in SEVENTEENTH position at the box office, with summer blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Free Willy and The Fugitive still holding on to the top positions, while other entries we've literally never even heard of - Hearts and Souls, Fortress, Needful Things - did substantially better than Kalifornia.

By the end of its run, Pitt's serial killer made less than $2.5 million in cinemas, and it remains the lowest grossing movie that Pitt has ever starred in to get a proper cinematic release. And to date, Pitt has never played a character this obviously bad ever again.


Kalifornia is available to rent on Apple TV and the Sky Store right now.

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