If you ever meet Brad Pitt, be warned: He’ll probably forget you once he’s not looking at you anymore. He’ll probably worry about the fact that he’ll forget you; he’ll also probably worry that you’ll think he’s a jerk because of it. But don’t worry—he’s not actually a jerk. He might just be suffering from a condition called prosopagnosia, or colloquially, face blindness.
Prosopagnosia is apparently more common than you’d think—roughly one in fifty people have it, and according to a recent interview with Esquire, Brad suspects that he might be one of them. Those suffering from the condition can see just fine, but their brains have trouble processing the information that tells them that a collection of features is a face. For some, it’s not so much about detecting faces, but about recognizing the same face when you see it again—which is the problem Brad seems to have.
So, after years of pretending he remembered people he’d previously met even if he had no idea when, where, or how he’d met them, the actor decided to try an experiment. How did it go? In his own words:
“So many people hate me because they think I’m disrespecting them. So I swear to God, I took one year where I just said, This year, I’m just going to cop to it and say to people, ‘Okay, where did we meet?’ But it just got worse. People were more offended. Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I’ll say, ‘Thank you for helping me.’ But I piss more people off. You get this thing, like, ‘You’re being egotistical. You’re being conceited.’ But it’s a mystery to me, man. I can’t grasp a face and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view.”
Brad also doesn’t particularly enjoy going out because of his inability to recognize people (“that’s why I stay at home,” he said); and moreover, because he’s a public personality, the crowds are inevitable. “You meet so many damned people,” he remarked, “and then you meet ‘em again.”
He doesn’t know yet whether he’s “officially” got prosopagnosia yet, but he says he’s going to get tested for it. A lot of what causes the condition is still a mystery, but at least Brad can take comfort in the fact that research is ongoing. For more information about it, check out these articles:
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.