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Brad Pitt interviews an astronaut on the space station: ‘Who controls the jam box?’

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The actor playing an astronaut meets an actual astronaut

Today, Brad Pitt — who is set to play a gun-wielding, pirate-hunting astronaut in the upcoming film Ad Astra — got the chance to speak to someone who actually has the job of his on-screen character: an astronaut on board the International Space Station. While at NASA’s Space Operations Center in Washington DC, Pitt chatted with astronaut Nick Hague who has been living on the ISS since March.

ISS astronauts are fairly accustomed to doing interviews with journalists and schoolchildren while in space, but it’s a rare occasion when a movie actor is the voice on the line. Pitt started his line of questioning firmly in the entertainment sphere, asking Hague how realistic his new movie is when it comes to physics. (While the movie comes out on September 20th here on Earth, Hague and his fellow astronauts got to see it in advance.)

“Now that I have you all the way up at the space station, let’s talk about me,” joked Pitt. “How did we do? How was our zero-g?” Hague had only good things to say about the depiction, but he noted that he probably enjoyed real microgravity more than Pitt did. “I got to imagine it was a lot easier for me to kind of enjoy the zero-g,” said Hague, noting that while he was free-floating, Pitt would have had to be hooked to strings or acting against CGI.

Pitt asked Hague a lot of questions about what experiments he was working on, what spacewalking is like, and how the astronauts manage to have a normal sleeping schedule when they see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every day. The key: having the right color of light to wake them up in the morning and the right one to put them to sleep. The actor also wanted to know how one handles living in space for up to 200 days at a time.

“What is that like on the psyche?” asked Pitt. “I’m sure you’re always busy, but at the same time missing family and loved ones at home. How do you keep your mental state at peace?” Hague’s answer: “One of the luxuries I think we have of working in low Earth orbit close to the Earth is the amount of connectivity that we have.” He pointed out that he can easily do video calls with his family and check in with them on a regular basis.

Of course, the discussion eventually turned to much more serious matters, as Pitt wanted to know “who controls the jam box?” Apparently, the astronauts have a rotating playlist that they all take turns contributing to. “It’s nice because we have the international flair as well,” said Hague. “So we have an Italian astronaut on board, along with the US astronauts and then two cosmonauts. And so getting to hear some traditional music from Russia over dinner is... a nice change exposure and helps us really appreciate that international feel that the crew has.”

The entire interview took about 20 minutes; you can watch the full video above. Pitt expertly rounded out the discussion with one very important acting question. “Nick, last question, and I need to call on your expertise,” said Pitt. “Who was more believable: Clooney or Pitt?”

“You were, absolutely,” answered Hague.