Three dumb guys who think they’re smart rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse. Brad Pitt plays the enforcer hired to track them down and restore order. ‘Killing Them Softly’ also features Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Vincent Curatola. Max Casella, Trevor Long, Slaine and Sam Shepard also make appearances. ‘Killing Them Softly’ is written for the screen and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), and is based on the George V. Higgins novel, “Cogan’s Trade.” Arriving in UK cinemas this Friday, ‘Killing Them Softly’ is released in the US on November 30th. This interview is a re-post from the time of the films May world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Look out for new ‘Killing Them Softly’ interviews in November.

What was it about ‘Killing Them Softly’ that interested you in starring and co-producing the film? Also, as a producer, is there something in particular you look for in a story?

Brad Pitt: First and foremost, Dede Gardner (producing partner) and I have focused on films that might have a difficult time in getting made, and help them get made. To get behind filmmakers like Andrew Dominik who we believe very strongly in, and have great admiration for. That would be the first impetus. But we are also looking for stories that say something about our time and who we are. I certainly felt upon reading this that this was making those comments, a commentary. We were certainly at the apex of the Mortgage loans debacle, people were losing homes right and left. It was at the forefront of the newspapers, as the economy still is. But this commentary and the way it’s done in this film where you believe you’re watching a gangster film, or I felt like I was reading a gangster film, and then it wasn’t until the end when it coalesced for me as far as maybe what direction the film is pointing to overall. That this microcosm actually was saying something about the greater, the macro world.

Many of my own favourite films have that dynamic underneath….

Brad Pitt: Yeah, I think if we look back on our favourite films that’s always happening. There’s always something going on underneath, that is not necessarily in your face. I thought this was an interesting way at looking at the financial crisis, instead of going straight to the financial crisis. And after ’Killing Them Softly’ we jumped into a zombie film, ‘World War Z,‘ we’re trying to do the same thing there. And historically those films, zombie films, they do the exact same thing.

How do you think the climate surrounding the economic collapse has effected film/art?

Brad Pitt: It’s the age old battle of art versus commerce. And it will always be. I don’t really wrestle with the relationship of the two. They’re not meant to get along, yet they’re symbiotic – they need each other (laughs). It’s a symbiotic relationship and it’s cantankerous and it will always be that. There’s something noble about making something that says something and uncovers something, and being able to do it within that system where it has to be profitable, or the thing doesn’t get made. I find it a really interesting relationship, I don’t argue with it though.

Your character, Jackie Cogan, he goes on a scathing attack on Thomas Jefferson in the film….

Brad Pitt: (Laughs) I’m a bit of an architecture nut, and Thomas Jefferson, he was a great architect as well – I think very highly of him in many ways actually. But it’s all free game, we were playing characters with very specific opinions. We are certainly living, in the US, in a time of a great divide. I’m interested in those other arguments that aren’t necessarily mine, certainly not mine. If you look at it as just a business you can stay very dispassionate about it. And of course there’s many facets to America, it’s a very complex, amazing country – I find it an amazing time to be there right now. But for me, one of the facets is the idea of America, that idea is innovation, integrity, fairness, justice….but these are ideals that must always be protected and guarded, because it’s easy to slip – especially the more powerful the nation is.

What makes Cogan tick besides money? And how was it working with Andrew Dominik for the second time after ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’?

Brad Pitt: Jackie Cogan, he’s wanting to get the job done, putting people through the least amount pain – there’s some humanity there (laughs). He wants to make it as comfortable as he can for the person that’s gotta go. It’s just an unfortunate part of the business, but its gotta be cutthroat and that’s the way it is, that persons gotta go. I equate that to business, business can be very very cutthroat in that way. We all accept the terms, sometimes people get fired, people make bad bets. And working with Andrew Dominik for the second time, there was absolutely no difference. Working with Andrew was just a continuation of the conversation we left of, in many ways. I really enjoy working with him and I have great respect for him. He’s got such a finely tuned radar for human behaviour. I really enjoyed it.