FAMOUS AND ANDES
WHILE BRAD PITT
WAS VERY VISIBLE IN Sleepers this fall, fans might be wondering what's become of the star. Noticeably absent from the movie's premiere and nearly invisible since, Pitt, 32, hasn't fallen off the end of the earth, but he's pretty close to it. Since Sept. 18 he has been holed up in Uspallata, Argentina, a farming community of 1,300 in the Andes Mountains, 60 miles from the nearest movie house and 5,500 miles from Hogs & Heifers, his favorite Manhattan bar. Pitt will remain there until December filming Seven Years in Tibet (due out next year), the true story of an Austrian climber who encounters the Dalai Lama during a Himalayan trek in the 1940s. Rather than confront the repressive Chinese government—which controls Tibet—director Jean-Jacques Annaud instead chose a peaceful Argentine backdrop for the film. There, outside Uspallata, he built a set that includes a replica of Tibet's old city of Lhasa and brought in 27 Tibetan monks as extras. He even ordered up a herd of 30 yaks. But the production's most exotic import is Pitt, whose presence has attracted hundreds of fans as well as paparazzi. As a result, Pitt has curtailed visits to a local barbecue joint where goat is a favored delicacy, and he seldom ventures from his rented mansion, where a bodyguard keeps constant vigil. Locals saw a bit more of him when Gwyneth Paltrow
dropped in for a visit on Sept. 22 and the twosome went on a few shopping excursions. But if Pitt has love and privacy on his mind, he is also thinking about revamping his career—at least according to a publicity handout distributed after his arrival. "I want to leave behind the image of sex symbol," he is quoted as saying, "and try for a new image as a first-line actor." Oh, that Brad: a few weeks in the country and he's already speaking in badly translated English.