The Extreme Lengths Brad Pitt Went To For His Fight Club Role

David Fincher's "Fight Club" is a film with a troubled legacy, perhaps because it has been misunderstood or because the film itself makes the unglamorous glamorous. An early darling of the DVD market, once likened to "The Graduate" of its generation, Fincher's 1999 adaptation of the eponymous Chuck Palahniuk novel was never not controversial. In recent years, however, it feels like the film has borne the brunt of more criticism, as cultural attitudes have shifted and singled it out as a problematic, premillennial bastion of toxic masculinity.

It's an easy target for commentary, the kind of cult favorite that trends on Twitter over two decades later for being an ostensible "red flag movie." The film's 20th anniversary happened to come the same year as the Joaquin Phoenix-led "Joker," and it was often a point of comparison, with The New Yorker, for instance, running pieces about "The Men Who Still Love Fight Club."

Guys — some of them, anyway — want to be Brad Pitt. More specifically, they want to look like Pitt's character, Tyler Durden, the walking id of Edward Norton's nameless narrator, AKA "Jack."

Durden is a dangerous puma of a man (or figment of one) with cannonball shoulders, low body fat, and no compunctions about beating a bleached-blonde Jared Leto silly. He's the kind of imaginary friend, or extension of self, who walks into an underground fight club and commands attention, laying out the rules for his followers.

The first and second rules of "Fight Club" are, "You do not talk about Fight Club." But we're about to break those rules and talk about how Pitt prepared for the role of Durden.

How Brad Pitt Prepared for the Role of Tyler Durden

Pitt took drastic measures to achieve his chiseled look and bring the Tyler Durden character to life. Film Facts gives a brief rundown, explaining that he "had pieces of his front teeth chipped off" and "took soap-making classes, boxing, taekwondo, and grappling lessons with Edward Norton to prepare for the role."

Way back in 1998, while "Fight Club" was in production, Entertainment Weekly told teeny-boppers to brace themselves for the report that Pitt was having his teeth chipped — on purpose — for Fincher's film. He did it the smart way, at least, by visiting the dentist, rather than taking a hammer to them. His publicist, Cindy Guagenti, said, "Brad's willing to go to great lengths for a character," and she stressed that he was planning to get his teeth restored soon after.

As for the soap-making, well, c'mon, a pink soap bar, made out of human body fat (purloined from liposuction clinics), is the movie-poster symbol of "Fight Club." You can't really blame Pitt and Norton for wanting to get some hands-on experience with soap-making.

Men's Health devoted an entire article to Pitt's workout regimen, which has a whole day devoted to shoulder exercises (thus, the cannonballs) and separate days devoted to the chest, the back, the biceps and triceps, and cardio. Learning boxing and Taekwondo came in handy for when Durden was going all Bruce Lee on the Jack side of himself, beating up Norton's character in a parking garage.

Just remember: if you want to hit the gym and try and sculpt your pecs to look more like those of Tyler Durden, that's okay. Emulating the worst of his Project Mayhem behavior, however, is not generally advised.