William Bradley Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to William Alvin Pitt, who ran a trucking company, and Jane Etta, a school counsellor.The family soon moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he lived together with his younger siblings, Douglas (born 1966) and Julie Neal (born 1969).Born into a conservative household, he was raised as Southern Baptist, but has since stated that he does not “have a great relationship with religion” and that he “oscillate[s] between agnosticism and atheism”.Pitt has described Springfield as “Mark Twain country, Jesse James country”, having grown up with “a lot of hills, a lot of lakes”.
Pitt attended Kickapoo High School, where he was a member of the golf, swimming and tennis teams.He participated in the school’s Key and Forensics clubs, in school debates, and in musicals.Following his graduation from high school, Pitt enrolled in the University of Missouri in 1982, majoring in journalism with a focus on advertising. As graduation approached, Pitt did not feel ready to settle down. He loved films—”a portal into different worlds for me”—and, since films were not made in Missouri, he decided to go to where they were made. Two weeks before earning his degree, Pitt left the university and moved to Los Angeles, where he took acting lessons and worked odd jobs. He has named his early acting heroes as Gary Oldman, Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke.