He’s got a crush! Brad Pitt hasn’t exactly been dating up a storm since his bitter split with Angelina Jolie a year ago. He was briefly linked to Sienna Miller, and as In Touch reported in August, he became smitten with a beautiful artist while working at an art sculpting studio in LA. “He’s taking things as they come,” says a source close to the actor. “He hasn’t wanted to get serious with anyone.”

Until now. Brad, 53, has fallen for 21-year-old British actress Ella Purnell — who, in an ironic twist, played a young Angelina in 2014’s Maleficent. He’s so enchanted, the source tells In Touch exclusively, that he cast her in his upcoming Starz series, Sweetbitter. Blown away by her work in 2016’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and this year’s Churchill, he jumped at the chance to work with Ella when his production company, Plan B, began to develop the drama, based on a novel about a NYC waitress.

ella purnell - getty

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“Brad had Ella in mind from the get-go. He went out of his way to cast her,” says the source. “Ella is incredibly flattered by all the attention she’s getting from Brad,” adds the source. “She’s told friends he’s always been her No. 1 celebrity crush.”

The pair’s flirtation has Angelina seeing red. “She’s furious about Brad’s interest in Ella and her being cast in Sweetbitter,” says the source. “She absolutely hates that Brad is cavorting with someone who played the teenage version of her in a film.”

Their 32-year age difference irks her, too: The source says Angelina, 42, has noted that Ella is only five years older than 16-year-old Maddox, one of the six children she and Brad share. Brad is well aware that he’s old enough to be Ella’s dad. “He realizes the huge age difference,” says the source, “and that everyone would look at the relationship as a midlife crisis mistake.” But Brad’s attraction is more than just physical, says the source. “He’s taken with Ella’s spunky, funny demeanor and formidable acting skills.”

He can’t get her out of his mind. “Although Brad’s been working on his sci-fi space travel film Ad Astra, he’s been checking in with Ella weekly as she preps for production,” says the source. “Brad plans on coaching Ella for the show. He’s sure it’s going to be a hit and that it’s going to make Ella a star.” And while things may remain platonic at the moment, the source predicts that won’t last long: “It’s only a matter of time before Brad takes their relationship to the next level.”

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