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Different eras, yet similar roles in the industry. 

They’ve got the jaw, the dirty-blonde hair, near-identical smile, underrated acting chops, and a charm that won over their respective generations – and those afterward. 

Brad Pitt and Robert Redford have been compared for years, and now, it’s time to look at what these two icons have in common while being unique in their style and personas.

Brad Pitt and Robert Redford – Career Trajectories

Redford was as much a rebel off-screen as he was on in his early beginnings. While an athlete and charmer with the ladies, Redford struggled to make things work in the beginning. Eventually, Redford won a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado, but instead, became the campus drunk and burnt out. While we don’t know if he dropped out or was expelled, he moved to Europe and became an artist.

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Redford’s time overseas changed the way he viewed life, by changing his own lifestyles and becoming bohemian while immersed in art, culture, and even political ideas. His time with the passionate students overseas made Redford study and by the time he came back to the States, he was no longer the rebel, but a man in love with high-class living, art, and being more involved with the country in which he came from. 

Through emotional and tragic loss, Reford became solely invested in acting an eventually broke out with Barefoot in the Park and then in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a film that propelled him into superstar status. Redford gained popularity for his looks and golden boy style, so he quickly became picky with roles and focused on showing he was more than that. Not only did Redford show his skills as an actor, but he also got into directing and proved he was one of the best in the business. 

Pitt similarly started as a rebel, quitting college just two credits shy of graduating and then moving to LA to get into the film industry. He worked random jobs here and there to get by as he made uncredited appearances on various films and small guest roles on tv shows and soap operas. His first turn for the better began with Thelma & Louise, the role turned him into an overnight sex symbol. He showed he was an actor too however when he starred in A River Runs Through It directed by, you guessed it, Robert Redford, delivering a career-defining performance in the process. 

Finally, Pitt completed his rise into the A tier actor’s pool with Interview with the Vampire, and though the film was a mixed bag, a role Pitt needed, and he never looked back afterward. 

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The Obvious: Secretly Related?

Just look at the two, especially now. Redford and Pitt are practically twins, and their similar bad boy personas just add to the strange coincidences that lie between them both.

Each fought to shed their good looks in place of great acting, but like to have a good time all the same. They have Oscars on the shelf, but more of the nominations and awards have come through either directing for Redford or producing for Pitt, showing they don’t want to just say lines on a page, they want to run the show, all the more commanding respect from their peers. Both men used that success and respect to speak on important political stances they held dear, knowing they earned the ears of many around them. 

Another fun similarity is both have had a film buddy that audiences never got enough of. For Redford, the chemistry and success was with Paul Newman, while Pitt shared an instant connection with George Clooney himself. 

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Newman and Redford only made two films together (though they tried desperately to get a third it just wasn’t meant to be), and those two were iconic to a degree that the duo is considered one of the best on-screen pairing in history. Butch and Sundance was their first, leading to a second go with The Sting, a film that received numerous Oscar nominations, winning seven out of ten including Best Picture. Their legacy was cemented and the two remained best friends until Newman’s sad passing in ‘08. 

For Pitt and Clooney, their partnership in the Ocean’s trilogy was a sight to behold. Coolness oozed out of the two and they have stayed in close connection since, appearing in one more film, Burn After Reading (though they don’t really share the screen together). 

Pitt and Redford then made everyone happy when they starred together in the spy-film, Spy Game, a movie clearly made for the stars. Seeing what looks like a father-son combo on screen was the icing on the cake. 

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Are There Any Major Differences?

Though they force you to do a double-take, there are differences, or one real differentiating characteristic, between the two men. 

Over his career, Pitt has more often than Redford leaned back into that cool, sex-symbol persona. So much so that it’s easy to forget that Pitt has given quite a few hefty performances. The funny, witty, and quirky action star roles tend to make a bigger impact, making people gush over his charm and love for food in the movie, while Redford always took on more art-centric roles that even when showing his good looks and charm, had a weight to them no matter what. Pitt makes jokes at awards shows, Redford is charming, but he tends to keep that side of himself off the live camera. One went out of his way to shed what could have become a typecast skin, the other is happy to put it on when necessary.

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But that my friends, is about the only major difference. Ya know, besides the fact that they’re two different human beings but that’s only minor. 

Over time, both Pitt and Redford have used their rebel-good looks to get into the industry but made it their mission to not just act, while having a major role in Hollywood, and using their platform to speak on issues important to them. One directs the other produces, but both are respected and legendary men in Hollywood, taking home multiple Oscars each and like a fine wine, only get better with age.

By Merrick Sinclair


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