The actor writes a tribute to his Bullet Train costar, who is not only “funny as f—,” but is getting Oscar buzz for his performance in Causeway.
By Brad Pitt December 12, 2022 at 08:00 AM EST
In 2016, Brian Tyree Henry got everyone’s attention when he first appeared as the hilarious, perpetually exhausted Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles on Atlanta. Since then, he’s continued to build out an impressive résumé, and this year alone, he rounded out his run on the critically acclaimed FX comedy, stole the show as one-half of a heavily accented, quick-witted brotherhood in Bullet Train — Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the other half — and delivered a devastatingly subtle performance as a man in desperate need of a friend in Causeway, for which he’s (rightfully) receiving Oscar buzz.
Entertainers of the Year
Brian Tyree Henry; (inset) Brad Pitt
| Credit: Getty Images
I was a fan before I ever worked with Brian. I saw him in Atlanta, and I thought, “This guy is hard,” in a good way. He’s the real deal, he’s hard. And then he got cast in If Beale Street Could Talk, for basically what is one extended scene, and I was so moved. I thought, “This guy runs deep.” For me, as an actor, it’s rare that you see someone and get surprised. He’s in this one scene, and he talks about his stint in prison, and it just floored me. The degree of subtlety and difficulty, it’s so finessed. You believe it. You feel this immense pain that the character’s carrying. It’s extraordinary. And then you meet Brian in person, and he’s funny as f—. He’s the kindest, sweetest soul. He’s just infectious to be around.
On the set of Bullet Train, he was the center. He was the sun that we all orbited around. Our first scene together was the silent car, and a lot of that is him riffing. He just keeps coming back with stuff, so it’s different every take, and he’s just brilliant. By the end of the shoot, we were going to him to punch up lines for any character: “What do you got for this moment?”
My best joke was that he was taking work away from British actors, because the character was a Brit. And he took on a Cockney accent, which of all the English accents, that’s the one with no wiggle room. You cannot get that one wrong, because if you do, you get slaughtered by the Brits. But he took it on and by all reports, he nailed it.
He also tweaked his knee really bad during that shoot, and he soldiered through. He still sold it. He can do anything. He’s a director’s dream. He can play heavy, and then he can play big and funny. And he’s such a lovely, lovely human being. I can’t say that enough. I love the guy and I think that’s pretty unanimous with all of us who work with him. I know the guy can act. I know he is skilled, but as a human being, he’s just one of those wonderful people to be around.
This guy’s so good. I would’ve given him Entertainer of the Year in, like, 2018. Hell, give him Human of the Year.
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