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How Fight Club Led To Brad Pitt's Highest Grossing Role (That Lasted Two Seconds)

Brad Pitt is one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood, so it's surprising to learn that he barely appears in his highest-grossing film. Directed by David Leitch, "Deadpool 2" grossed $734 million at the global box office. Yes, Pitt's highest-grossing movie is "Deadpool 2." Within the raunchy superhero film, Pitt plays Vanisher, a superhero with the power of invisibility who teams up with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). Due to his skill, the audience never sees the character on screen — even Deadpool doubts his X-Force recruit is real. 

Eventually, Vanisher drops his invisibility powers when he dies by electrocution on a telephone wire, revealing his form briefly to Deadpool (and the audience). Pitt's involvement with the film was unadvertised, so the star's cameo was a huge surprise to moviegoers — a move which makes this blink-and-you-miss-it visual gag joke even funnier.

Of course, the audacity of the joke is that an A-list star who most film studios would be thrilled to land has only two seconds of screen time in a blockbuster production. But how did this zany appearance come about? As Pitt explained to BBC Radio 1 in August 2022, he and "Deadpool 2" director Leitch have a friendship that dates back to his early "Fight Club" days. "Dave's an old friend of mine," Pitt said. "He was my stunt double, starting with 'Fight Club' and all the way up until about [2004]. And then he went off and became a really good director, which is rare. Rare!"

Bratt Pitt's relationship with Deadpool 2's director spans decades

Leitch is best known now as a director of adrenaline-pumping films like "Bullet Train," "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," and "Atomic Blonde." But to reach his level of success within the action genre, Leitch first put a lot of time into doing, crafting, and coordinating stunts. Aside from helping to portray Tyler Durden in the late '90s, Leitch performed stuntwork in films like 1998's "Blade," "The Matrix Reloaded," and the beloved "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Still, he continued to double for Pitt in films like "The Mexican," "Ocean's Eleven," and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." 

But soon, their careers diverged. Leitch pivoted to assisting with stunt coordination in films like "V for Vendetta" and was the action coordinator for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," as Pitt starred in critically acclaimed films like "12 Years a Slave," "The Big Short," and nabbed an Oscar for best-supporting actor in 2020's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

However, Leitch's professional relationship with Pitt has recently come full circle. During a press event for Leitch's "Bullet Train," in which Pitt stars in the leading role as the bumbling-quasi-Zen assassin Ladybug, Pitt discussed what it was like to work with Leitch again to The Hollywood Reporter. "He trained me for those fights," Pitt said. "In a way, he's helping me develop the character. Now, he's a director with his own voice and vernacular. I'm serving him. He's the boss. So there was a beautiful symmetry for two old friends." In a conversation with Leitch and Pitt for Brut America, Leitch happily noted, "Our fates took us in different places, and then they ended up bringing us back together."

Will Vanisher return for Deadpool 3?

However, it's very unlikely that "Deadpool 3" will be what unites Leitch and Pitt again for outlandish battle sequences. Instead of Leitch, Shawn Levy will be directing the third Ryan Reynolds-starring Deadpool film, and, based on what we saw of Vanisher's remains in "Deadpool 2," Pitt's run as the invisible X-Force member seems dead on arrival. (Though, in the world of comics, we can never be too sure — especially if "Deadpool 3" theories around the MCU film killing the Marvel Universe come to fruition.) However, it's also unclear when we'd possibly see "Deadpool 3" hit the big screen: Due to the dual SAG-AFTRA and writer strike within Hollywood, the release date of "Deadpool 3" is still seemingly pending.

Still, we can hope that the Leitch-Pitt collaborations will only pick up steam from here in other avenues. "Bullet Train" grossed over $239 million at the global box office on a budget of reportedly around $85 million dollars, which is no small feat and indicative of the pair's successful pairing on and off camera.