Why Brad Pitt dropped out of Missouri journalism school

NPR.org | The Maneater
On Thursday’s “Fresh Air” show, Brad Pitt talked with host Terry Gross about his days at the University of Missouri journalism school:

TG: You studied journalism in college. What did you expect to become?

BP: I wasn’t really sure. i was just investigating for myself — they have one of the best j-schools in the country.

TG: This is, where?

BP: University of Missouri.


BP: It just came to the time of graduation and everyone — all my friends were committing to jobs — and I just realized I was not ready for that yet. ..I packed up my car. I didn’t graduate — I had two weeks left — and I moved out to L.A.

TG: Why didn’t you finish those two weeks? I mean, two weeks is a blink of an eye.

BP: …I just felt I was done; I was done with it. i knew where i wanted to go. I had a direction. I always liked those moments of epiphany when you have the next destination.

Jalopnik features editor Justin Hyde tweeted shortly after the interview: “Hear Brad Pitt gave a #Mizzou J-school shout out on @nprfreshair. Anyone else remember what his great unfinished final assignment was?”

I asked Hyde about that assignment in two emails, but he didn’t respond. I got my answer, though, by searching Mizzou’s student newspaper archives: The unfinished assignment was “a hunk calendar” for Journalism 336, an advertising class.

Henry Hager, a Missouri professor emeritus of journalism who taught Pitt in the 1980s, talked to the Maneater student newspaper in 2001. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“He wanted my professional estimate on (the calendar),” Hager said. “I think he might have been trying to use that with the professor. He told me that she thought he had done the work too fast.”

Hager said School of Journalism officials have given Pitt the chance to earn the two credits he’s missing.

“The message that we’ve sent is, ‘Look, to get that credit, simply edit some scenes from your films,’” he said. “That probably would show the professionalism that we require.”

So far, Hager said, Pitt has not taken them up on the offer.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyler-Emerson/16804477 Tyler Emerson

    He’s just being diplomatic. The real reason is that he just didn’t want to be a Mizzou alum. Smart man.

    Rock Chalk!

  • http://twitter.com/Steve_Writes Steve White Writes

    Henry Hager was/is my mentor though we’ve been out of contact for a few years. Henry is the best professor — and one of the finest people — I’ve ever met. Brad Pitt left Mizzou J-School a few years before I attended. The J336 project (doubtless self-directed; Hunks of Mizzou? Really?) in question was taught by another passionate prof named Birgit Wassmuth who some of us [sometimes jokingly, sometimes not, ha] viewed as a sadist. I can still hear her saying in her thick German accent, “Take out your proportion wheels!” Her class was beyond incredibly difficult if you were not born a graphic designer. But you learned a lot if you did the work. That’s probably the real reason why Pitt left; he just didn’t want to deal with Birgit’s class anymore. 

  • http://twitter.com/Ben_Fred Ben Frederickson

    Why would you leave a journalism school where you get to do things like this?