Brad Pitt aims for home run with "Moneyball"

Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:32am EDT
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By Christine Kearney and Bob Mezan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Brad Pitt has turned to the insular world of baseball economics for his latest movie and yet the Hollywood heavyweight is a relative rookie in terms of obsessing over one of America's great pastimes.

The A-list actor is one of the top draws this week at the Toronto International Film Festival for the launch of his new drama, "Moneyball." He plays Billy Beane, the real-life general manager of Major League Baseball's Oakland A's, who is famed for reinventing the game by running a competitive team in a cost-effective way.

Pitt told Reuters that he learned to appreciate the nuances and complexities of the game while making the movie, helped by several meetings with 49-year-old Beane, but he is not your typical baseball fanatic.

"It's shameful how little I know about baseball, but what I know about it, I got -- it was a pop fly in the fourth grade -- 18 stitches," he told Reuters, referring to getting hit by ball when he was just a kid, opening a flesh wound.

"I find it really tranquil when it is on (TV) in the background now...There is a reason why it has become our national pastime. It's a team sport yet at the same time it is an individual battle."

The film's creators want movie audiences to see that "Moneyball" is not just another tale in the vein of "The Natural," "Major league" or other baseball films that have become ubiquitous in U.S. theaters.

They are banking on Pitt, 47, to transform Beane's use of bland statistics and mathematical tables into entertaining movie fare. And for that, they've tailored the story of the Oakland A's into a tale of beating the odds.

"We are always looking for undercurrents in films, what is going on underneath it," Pitt said, adding that "Moneyball" is "much more than a baseball film" and more of "an underdog story. You have a justice story."   Continued...