There was a rainbow over Prague the evening before we talked. One part of the sky was leaden, the other suggested just a hazy early-summer dusk: Light drizzle fell through the dreamy, golden light, the colors arcing over the citizens of Prague—the medieval Bohemian city that cradled Franz Kafka, Ivan Klíma, Václav Havel, and Antonín Dvořák. After the week, or two weeks, or however long they’re here in Prague (the Pitt-Jolie family schedule is so arcane that even Pitt is unsure of it), the family will decamp somewhere else. (“It’s a secret,” Pitt says when I ask him where. “We’re taking two weeks with the family.”) Such a peripatetic life comes with its fair share of complications. Brad’s security guy, a goateed Brit named Billy, foreshadowed Pitt’s arrival by visiting the venue for our meeting—a windows-sealed-for-your-inconvenience hotel suite—before his arrival, talking about “getting him in here.”

“It’s not going to keep our kids caged in,” Pitt insists, talking about the cameras and the tight security. “The only thing that frightens me today is something happening to my kids, or something happening to Angie, or something happening to Angie and I. That happens when they follow you, right.”

We have not been talking about the paparazzi, but it is clear that this is what he means by “they.”

“It is the defining annoyance of my life,” he says, emitting a deep, frustrated sigh. “I just think how strange it is for my kids. Mad, Z, Pax—they really believe that every time you go outside there is a herd of people with cameras snapping flashes in your face [who] are going to kind of block your way when you’re trying to get somewhere.

“That is their vision of the world outside. Very strange, isn’t it? It’s an everyday thing for them. They don’t really see it as bad or good. Z will point and go, ‘Cameras!’ Pax will point and say, ‘People.’ Maddox is keen to where his parents are coming from. I don’t want them to be tensing up, and I don’t want them to see or feel any kind of threat. But man, when [photographers] cross the line, you know—if it happened to one of your kids, it’s hard not to want to take them down.”

Imagine for a minute that you are Brad Pitt a few years back. After sexing up Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise and sparking America’s most persistent schoolgirl crush, you are married to Jennifer Aniston, one of America’s Sexiest People. You are one of America’s Sexiest People, receiving millions of dollars per movie. What leads you to transform your life in the ways that Pitt has done over the past couple of years? Why be a slave to preschool timetables and disappear on fact-finding missions to Cambodia when you could be sitting poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel sipping Krug?