Someone go wake up Biz Markie, because it sounds like Alia Shawkat, 31, wants to remix his 1989 classic, “Just A Friend,” to be all about her relationship with Brad Pitt. Amid rumors that the Search Party star and Brad, 56, are a couple, Alia decided to make their “relationship status” clear. “We’re not dating,” she said in a new interview with Vulture. “We’re just friends.”
As Brad Pitt once joked that “any woman I stand next to, they say I’m dating,” and the same fate befell the Arrested Development star after she and Brad were seen together at a series of events. They caught Mike Birbiglia’s new one-man show, caught a Thundercat concert, ate at In-N-Out burger, and experience Kanye West’s opera together. Alia wasn’t prepared for this new notoriety, which first came about last fall when she and Brad were photographed walked out of a Los Angeles playhouse together. “All my friends were like ‘What’s going on?’ and sending me photos,” she told Vulture. “I just felt overwhelmed. It’s that feeling of being naked in school, like, Oh my God, everyone’s looking at me.”
Alia expounded on the nature of her friendship with Vulture. She landed her first film role in Spike Jonze’s Three Kings (back when she was age 9.) When she reconnected with Spike at a movie premiere years ago, the two struck up a friendship, and he introduced her to Brad. “We just became friends, and Brad introduced me to his group of friends, and it grew from there,” she said.
Brad and Alia have “a best friends vibe,” a source told HollywoodLife in April. “They have a great connection with similar interests and likes in the arts.” As their friendship has blossomed, Alia has become a “trusted outlet” for Brad, per the source, and a “great person [for him to] hang out with and be real with.”
Alia recently got a round of press for reasons other than her relationship with Brad Pitt. A resurfaced clip from a 2016 South By Southwest panel showed her quoting a Drake lyric that included the N-word. She immediately apologized. This scandal was especially painful for Alia, a queer woman of color (she is half-Iraqi and identifies as pansexual) who has been a vocal supporter of progressive causes.
“That’s what’s upsetting about it,” she told Vulture. In my mind, I wasn’t like, What the f-ck did I just say? Take that back, I’m sorry, never should have said that. Instead, I just carried it on like a joke and didn’t think about it afterward. That was more upsetting, in a way, than saying the word.”