Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cobain Lives

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cobain Lives

Article excerpt


The suicidal musician in Gus Van Sant's Last Days might not be called Kurt, but that only makes the rock god seem more human, says Michael Pitt, the actor who plays him

MICHAEL Pitt didn't really "get" Kurt Cobain the first time around, which is fair enough, since he was only 13 when the Nirvana frontman shot himself.

More to the point, Nirvana were too famous to be cool at the tough New Jersey school that Pitt attended. "They were very popular and on TV all the time, so I didn't really give them a chance," he says. "In my school, everyone listened to R&B and rap music. Then one day I went into school and saw all these rappers dressed in black.

I said, 'What's going on?' And they said, 'Kurt Cobain died.' That really struck me, you know? But I was more into Sonic Youth."

Music is still important to the 24-year-old actor, who has his own band, Pagoda, and recorded the version of Hey Joe used in Bertolucci's The Dreamers (in which he stars).

He rediscovered Cobain last year when playing Blake in Last Days, Gus Van Sant's archly non-specific "meditation on the inner turmoil that engulfs a brilliant but troubled musician in his final hours".

Nobody so much as whispers the word "Cobain" in the film, which an opening caption carefully describes as "a work of fiction".

Emphatically absent, even in lookalike form, is Courtney Love, doubtless on legal grounds.

Still, there's not much doubt who Pitt's character is meant to be. He wears the trademark oval, plasticframed sunglasses (although they're yellow: Cobain's were red); has the same floppy hair, grungy clothes and scrappy beard. "Even if you used the real name or the music, it wouldn't be what it was, would it?" comments the actor.

"It's a movie. This way, you're able to look at it more as a human being than as one particular individual.

In a weird kind of way, it's more respectful to the individual. If it was the other way, it would be like The Doors." He has a point: anything would be better than Oliver Stone's bloated biopic.

Since he first began to attract attention in Dawson's Creek, Pitt has carefully constructed the persona of a mumbling, politely noncommunicative stoner who forgets to show up for photo shoots and looks like he would rather be anywhere than in an interview. …

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