What’s the first rule of Fight Club? You do not talk about Fight Club. But don’t expect Brad Pitt to know that.

The 56-year-old Oscar-winning movie star and producer (who’s poised to win his first Academy Award for acting in February) revealed Wednesday at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival that he’s forgotten one of the most oft-repeated lines in modern movie history.

“Wow, it’s things like this and nights like these that tell me I’m old,” he told the crowd gathered to watch him receive the Maltin Modern Master Award — the festival’s highest accolade — from his Fight Club director David Fincher. “I’ve been around a while and I’ve been doing this for a bit…. I can’t do night shoots anymore, and I’ll gladly hand a stunt over to a stunt man. I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club. But it’s also nights like this where I get to look back and feel really, really blessed.”

His memory was sharp enough, however, to recall a casting factoid from earlier in his career.

“I did pass on The Matrix. I took the red pill. That’s the only one I’m naming,” he explained later in his speech, adding that the festival would need “two nights” to honor him if he elaborated on all the great movie’s he’s passed on. “I wasn’t offered two or three. Only the first one. Just to clarify that. I come from a place, maybe it’s my upbringing, if I didn’t get it, then it wasn’t mine. I really believe [the role] was never mine. It’s not mine. It was someone else’s and they go and make it.”

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura previously discussed Pitt’s brief entry and exit from the 1999 hit starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne.

“The first movie star who says yes is Brad Pitt, he’s doing Seven Years in Tibet and then he’s coming out of it and he’s like ‘I’m way too exhausted to take this on,’ so he’s gone,” di Bonaventura told The Wrap in early 2019. “Then we go to Leonardo [DiCaprio]. He says yes, we have meetings with him and then he goes, ‘You know, I can’t go do another visual effects movie having just finished Titanic,’ and he drops out. Then Will Smith joins it and he drops out.… The good news was, Keanu said yes and he was awesome.”

Pitt’s stop in Santa Barbara marks the latest in his busy awards season schedule, after winning the Golden Globe, SAG Award, and Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar juggernaut Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Watch the actor accept his Maltin Modern Master Award above.

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Fight Club
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