Brad Pitt coronation night at the Santa Barbara Film Festival…a real movie star comes to town, and the waters part. Oh, to touch the hem of the robe! To be close, to witness, to savor the aroma! The Gilbert & Sullivan ring of it all…the Major Miraculous Magnificent Maltin Modern Master Award! Every last Arlington seat filled. The longest lines, the loudest cheers and squeals.

Brad was loose, casual, obliging…a modest and self-effacing Lancelot. Interviewer Leonard Maltin didn’t elicit a single opinion from the 56 year-old actor, producer and Oscar nominee. The questions were mostly trite, fawning and obsequious (“How was working with so-and-so? How did you find your character? Did you attend the Oscar ceremony that year? How did you get to be such a wonderful movie star?”). And Pitt played along at every turn.

Pitt said he “made a few enemies” during the making of MoneyballSteven Soderbergh and who else? He really admires Robert Redford‘s subtle acting, and recalled that during the making of A River Runs Through It Redford told him to “never exhale” when the cameras are rolling “because you’re letting all the energy out…you’re letting it escape.”

Interviewer-author Leonard Matlin, Brad Pitt at finale of last night’s event.

HE declaration: I’ll aways be in awe of Pitt’s wonderfully layered Billy Bean performance. Relaxed and anxious at the same time, and also mysterious on a certain level. He’ll probably never top it. Second favorite all-time performance: The couch stoner in True Romance.

Pitt said he turned down the Neo role in The Matrix — “I took the red pill.” (Was that before or after Will Smith passed on it?) His verbally indecipherable Irishman in Snatch was deliberate as far as director Guy Ritchie was concerned — audiences not being able to understand most of what he said was part of the deal.

HE questions if I’d been in Maltin’s seat: (a) Do you agree that Hollywood actors have to lead the fight against the wearing of “whitesides” and gold-toe socks, or are you non-committal on that front?; (b) Whom do you like among the Democrats running right now, and why? (c) What are the most interesting attitudinal differences between your generation and that of your kids?; (d) What are the three performances you’re proudest of? (e) Which performance, if any, would you like people to forget about, or at least put into a sealed box?; (f) What’s changed since you embraced sobriety, and what’s your craziest drinking-days story?; (g) Do you still get ripped or have you left that behind also?; (h) You’ve met or worked with just about everyone in the industry — who in your judgment is the most under-appreciated or the least understood?; (i) Have you ever sampled any of Harrison Ford‘s cooking? (j) What is your favorite exotic getaway spot, and why?; (k) What kind of motorcycle do you own, and do you have a problem with the term “rumblehog” when it comes to describing large European-style scooters with leather saddlebags and carrying cases?; (l) What are your favorite comfort-blanket movies?; (m) Two or three of your favorite albums or recording artists?; (n) You’ve said you value the idea of speaking dialogue in a clear and easily understood way — what’s your opinion of actresses who lean on vocal fry, uptalk and sexy baby voices?

Closing remark: “Wow, it’s things like this and nights like these that tell me I’m old. I’ve been around a while and I’ve been doing this for a bit. I can’t do night shoots anymore, and I’ll gladly hand a stunt over to a stunt man. I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club.”

Velvet rope at Pitt after-party, the idea being to keep the invited riff-raff out of the section of the room where Pitt has holding court.