TORONTO — Canadian actress Jane McLean is hungry to network.
After all, it was just seven years ago that she quit her job as a marketing manager in Toronto to pursue her childhood dream of acting, and she feels like she’s got a bit of catching up to do.
But when she had the chance to schmooze with Hollywood megastar Brad Pitt on the set of her new movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife, opening Friday, she inadvertently let the opportunity slip away, and she’s still kicking herself.
“I actually didn’t know that it was Brad Pitt when I met him,” McLean, 35, who was born in the Philippines and raised in Mississauga, Ont., said wincing.
“It was quite embarrassing.”
Pitt is an executive producer of the highly anticipated romantic drama, about a man (Eric Bana) with a genetic anomaly that forces him to travel through time, putting a strain on his relationship with his soul mate, Clare (Canadian Rachel McAdams).
McLean plays Charisse, Clare’s roommate and girlfriend to Ron Livingston’s character in the feature, which is directed by Robert Schwentke and based on the bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger.
Pitt, recalled McLean, showed up to the set in Toronto one day and sat on a blue couch that she’d planned to buy once filming wrapped and it was no longer needed as a prop.
He was wearing a pageboy cap, and McLean, but she was bleary-eyed from the 12-hour workday and didn’t recognize him.
“It was just Eric and I, we were trying to finish up this last, really quick shot, and from the corner of my eye I see someone sitting on my couch!” said McLean, who resembles British big-screen beauty Thandie Newton.
“I’m (thinking): ’Who is sitting on my couch? You better not put your feet up on my couch because I’m buying it and taking it home.”’
When Pitt went over to introduce himself just as “Brad” and later said goodbye, she shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries, but that was that.
“So I take off, I get in the car, the driver says to me: ‘Oh, that Mr. Pitt’s a really nice guy,”’ she said, her eyes widening.
“I thought: ‘Oh my God, that was Brad Pitt!”’