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Affable Brad Pitt talks parenthood, hams it up at Toronto film festival

TORONTO (CP) _ Brad Pitt hammed it up for the cameras at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday as he discussed everything from his new critically acclaimed film "Babel" to his globetrotting passions and his three children with actress Angelina Jolie.

"Oh my God, the cameras!" said the smiling mega-star, wearing a slick black suit and cufflinks as photographers in the packed media room at the downtown Sutton Place Hotel relentlessly snapped shots of him and the rest of the "Babel" crew.

The conference moderator asked the shutterbugs several times to "calm down" because the cameras’ clicking noise was drowning out the voices of the actors and director on stage. But Pitt, no stranger to the spotlight, laughed at that request and at one point flashed his palms, waved his hands and stuck out his tongue for them.

"That’s the picture that’s going to (get out) when I have a breakdown or something," said the spiky-haired actor.

Pitt arrived in town the previous night to attend the North American premiere of "Babel" at a frenzied red carpet gala at Roy Thomson Hall. The multilingual ensemble drama, directed by Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("21 Grams," "Amores perros"), spans three continents as it portrays a series of tragic events that befall American, Moroccan, Mexican and Japanese families. Linking the storylines is a married American couple (Pitt and Cate Blanchett), who get stuck in Morocco when the wife is wounded by a bullet fired by a peasant boy playing with an old rifle in the desert.

"I think this film, basically at the end, is about four basic stories about parents and children," said Inarritu, who got the best director award for the film at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and is the subject of serious Oscar buzz.

Pitt couldn’t be in Cannes to celebrate the award in May because he was in Namibia awaiting the birth of his and Angelina Jolie’s first child together, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. The power couple, who starred together in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," also have two older children _ Maddox, adopted from Cambodia, and Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia.

"I consider myself more a citizen of the world and for me, I have great pride as I sit up here with all the people from different cultures," Pitt said, glancing over at his co-stars, Rinko Kikuchi and Koji Yakusho of Japan and Adriana Barrazza of Mexico. All of those actors spoke through translators.

Blanchett couldn’t be in Toronto because she’s shooting another movie.

"Babel" is dark and sometimes agonizing to watch as it highlights the failures of cultures and governments to communicate with one another.

Despite the violence and nudity in the film, Pitt said he would be proud to let his children watch it when they’re older. He was less certain about some of his other movies, though, saying he now makes a list of which films that he hopes to shelter them from.

"That’s exactly my thoughts now these days: ‘Oh my God, what did I do? What are they going to see from (my) films from the past?"’ said Pitt, who has played such gritty roles as a brawling soap salesman in "Fight Club."

"(Fatherhood) definitely colours what I’ll approach in the future. I’ll try to be a little bit more mature about my decisions, I think."

Before Shiloh’s birth, Pitt had been touring the globe with Jolie, a UN goodwill ambassador, Maddox and Zahara and says making the film in remote areas was "freeing" because he could concentrate on his work without worrying about the paparazzi. In fact, the superstar celebrity wasn’t even recognized in some areas in which they were filming and had to face "tough conditions" and stay in a modest trailer, said Inarritu.

"Was I a prima donna?" Pitt asked Inarritu, to which he replied with a laugh: "No. Not at all. Sometimes _ but no."

Pitt and Jolie have been a tabloid fixture since Pitt’s highly publicized divorce from actor Jennifer Aniston in early 2005. News of Pitt’s appearance at the Toronto festival ignited a firestorm of speculation among celebrity watchers eager to see if Jolie would join him on the red carpet. She was a no-show.

Vince Vaughn, Aniston’s reported beau and rumoured fiance, was also part of the festival scene over the weekend, promoting his film, "Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show."

Gossip writers were hot to see if there would be a collision of the "Vaughniston" and "Brangelina" camps, but Pitt said he wouldn’t be partying during his stay in the city. It seemed the biggest thing on his mind was getting back to his kids.

"Being a father now … it becomes your big worry," he said. "It becomes the one thing that keeps you up at night and how can you protect your children."

Babel is set to go into limited release Oct. 27.