One of the many controversies surrounding Brad Pitt’s career happened while he was filming for a movie in a different country that got him banned for almost two decades. What exactly did the Hollywood actor do to enrage an entire nation and restrict him from visiting?
This is not an isolated case since many other actors experienced the same after they showed support for a cause or a group of people. Thankfully, the ban was lifted in 2014, and it was all thanks to his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie.
Why Was Brad Pitt Banned In China?
Brad Pitt starred in the 1997 biographical war drama film Seven Years in Tibet which saw the actor portray Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama during China’s takeover of Tibet. The project was highly praised, and it also managed to earn almost twice its budget of $70 million, grossing over $131 million worldwide.
The actor admitted that the filming experience was very special due to its different cultural settings. It was his first time traveling to and living in the place as well. He told Interview Magazine:
“For an audience, it’s two hours, but for me, it’s a half year of living. And this one particularly. Being in a different culture for so long, you couldn’t help but walk out of there with something…”
Pitt shared what he imagined Tibet would look and feel like, but once he got to explore the place, he discovered that it was something more. He continued:
“I didn’t know anything about Tibet, really, and the first images in my head were of Shangri-la, and that’s not it at all. You just get these notions of an oasis in the middle of this violent world, but it’s the people who make it a Shangri-la, not the land.”
Despite the actor’s outstanding performance in the movie, he was barred from entering China because of his involvement in the project. The outlet stated that Pitt, co-star David Thewlis, and director Jean-Jacques Annaud were forbidden to enter the country’s premises:
“The People’s Republic of China was also disappointed in the film, though for more political reasons, drawing particular criticism towards both the negative depiction of Chinese military officers, as well as the positive portrayal of the 14th Dalai Lama.”
The ban, however, only lasted for 17 years as Pitt ultimately re-entered China in 2014 because of the premiere of his ex-wife Angelina Jolie’s film, Maleficent.
Brad Pitt’s Ban In China Finally Lifted After Almost Two Decades
During Angelina Jolie’s stay in Shanghai to promote Maleficent, Brad Pitt kept a low profile and did not appear at any news conference. The ex-couple avoided speaking about the controversy and only focused on their time in the city. Jolie told Rappler:
“Right at this moment, they [the children] are in dim sum classes with their dad. It’s been a wonderful experience for our family.”
The family stayed at Shanghai’s luxurious Peninsula Hotel, and they also managed to explore the city by visiting a contemporary art museum and walking in the commercial center.
Seven Years in Tibet is available on Netflix.