The son of a trucking company manager, Brad Pitt was born December 18, 1963, in Shawnee, OK. Raised in Missouri as the oldest of three children, and brought up in a strict Baptist household, Pitt enrolled at the University of Missouri, following high school graduation, studying journalism and advertising. However, after discovering his love of acting, he dropped out of college two credit hours before he could graduate and moved to Hollywood. Once in California, Pitt took acting classes and supported himself with a variety of odd jobs that included chauffeuring strippers to private parties, waiting tables, and wearing a giant chicken suit for a local restaurant chain. His first break came when he landed a small recurring role on Dallas, and a part in a teenage-slasher movie, Cutting Class (1989) (opposite Roddy McDowall), marked his inauspicious entrance into the world of feature films. The previous year, Pitt's acting experience had been limited to the TV movie A Stoning in Fulgham County (1988).
1991 marked the end of Pitt's obscurity, as it was the year he made his appearance in Thelma & Louise (1991) as the wickedly charming drifter who seduces Geena Davis and then robs her blind. After becoming famous practically overnight, Pitt unfortunately chose to channel his newfound celebrity into Ralph Bakshi's disastrous animation/live action combo Cool World (1992). Following this misstep, Pitt took a starring role in director Tom Di Cillo's independent film Johnny Suede. The film failed to score with critics or at the box office and Pitt's documented clashes with the director allegedly inspired Di Cillo to pattern the character of the vain and egotistical Chad Palomino, in his 1995 Living in Oblivion, after the actor. Pitt's next venture, Robert Redford's lyrical fly-fishing drama A River Runs Through It (2002), gave the actor a much-needed chance to prove that he had talent in addition to physical appeal.