February 13, 2012
In the Oscar-nominated film Moneyball, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, a baseball manager obsessed with turning his cash-strapped team into a contender. Pitt says that drive is what attracted him to the role that has earned him a best-actor nod.
“He was a guy who had been devalued by the sport as a player and now is working as a GM for a small-market team,” Pitt says. After an unsuccessful big-league career, Beane struggles to find a level playing field in a sport where money tilts the table. “There is such a gulf in what these teams have to spend on talent [that] they can never play equally — they can never have a true competition.”
Beane is fully consumed by his job, divorced and trying to stay in touch with his daughter — not exactly a well-rounded character. But Pitt says that’s what makes him interesting.
“I like him for his idiosyncrasies — that he can’t watch the games without getting too emotional, that he often has food down his shirt, that he tends to break a few chairs now and then,” Pitt says. “These things make him human.”
Those idiosyncrasies are evident in a scene between Beane and the owner of the Oakland A’s. He’s asking the owner for more money to sign better players, and his frustration and even desperation are clear. Yet he smiles.
“What I like about that scene is he knows he’s losing the argument,” Pitt says. “He’s getting more and more frustrated and therefore getting more and more pushy and trying every Hail Mary he can to get in there and reason — to the point where he almost insults his boss. And he’s got no other cards to play, and maybe that’s the [reason for the] smirk — it’s a no-win situation.”