Brad Pitt’s baseball film “Moneyball” is up for multiple Academy Awards – vindication for an actor who has gone to bat for the movie at every turn. Lee Cowan has our Sunday Profile:
He’s arguably one of the most famous men on the planet. Together with actress Angelina Jolie, they define “power couple.”
But if you think Brad Pitt always gets the star treatment, think again.
Turns out when it came to the movie “Moneyball,” a lot of people said NO to Brad Pitt: “Our production was like, you know, the red-headed stepchild on the lot.
“This movie died on the vine, or almost died on the vine several times. Actually DID die, and we had to resuscitate it!”
He plays Billy Beane, in the true story of the general manager of the Oakland A’s – a maverick who turned baseball on its head by building a team relying not on star power, but on statistics instead.
The movie is based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis.
“The book deals with, you know, economics, stats, saber metrics . . . nail-biting stuff in the movie theater!” exclaimed Pitt.
It’s a BASEBALL movie – that’s about a lot MORE than baseball. It’s about redefining success.
“This idea of value, what we are worth, what are we worth to ourselves, how do we place value on others. The value of that, our Billy Beane in the film finds, is a very quiet victory. It’s his own personal value.”
The real Billy Beane – watched it all unfold. When asked what it was like to be played by Brad Pitt, Beane replied, “A dream, wasn’t it? You know, it was a little surreal, but there were worse choices.”
Beane wasn’t wild about a feature film. “I spent about 6 months probably, holding onto the release,” he said. “Michael Lewis said, ‘Aw, they’ll never make the movie, just go ahead and sign it anyway.'”
The math turned out pretty well: “Moneyball” racked up 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Actor, and Best Picture, with Pitt as producer.
But the Academy didn’t stop there.
Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (left) – the OTHER film Pitt produced and starred in this year – also got a Best Picture nomination.
At 48, he’s hard to pin down after more than 40 films. He seems as much a character actor as a leading man.
A supporting role as a mental patient in “12 Monkeys” earned him his first Oscar nod in 1995; and he carried “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – an aging-backwards performance that earned him a Best Actor nomination.
“You like mixing it up? You don’t like doing something that you’ve done before
“Yeah, I have this reflex that for better or for worse, makes me want to do the opposite of what I’m supposed to do!” he laughed. “Sometimes it served me well, sometimes it hasn’t.”
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Missouri, Pitt first thought his calling might be journalism, so he headed off to college. But then, he didn’t graduate (though he got really close).
“Here’s what happened,” Pitt said. “I was two weeks from graduation, and all of my friends had jobs lined up, and it kind of wigged me out that I wasn’t ready . . . I didn’t have one lined up, nor did I even think to line one up. I just didn’t! I just wasn’t ready to do that thing.”
So he loaded up his car and left the Plains for Hollywood.
And oddly, it was the role of a Midwestern drifter in “Thelma and Louise” that launched Pitt into super-stardom.
He became an instant heartthrob, known as much for his smile as his blonde locks.
“Do you feel like you have to fight your looks though, at times?” Cowan asked.
“Listen, I mean, we all deal with the cards we’ve been dealt. And I’ve been dealt some pretty – a pretty good hand. Pretty good cards!”
His high-profile romances were like catnip for the tabloids – his engagement to Gwyneth Paltrow, and then his marriage (and very public divorce) from Jennifer Anniston – took on a life of their own.
But even they paled in comparison to Angelina Jolie, so famous the couple has a single nickname: Branjolina.
They’ve been together now for seven years, and have six children – three of them biological, the other three overseas adoptions.
“I couldn’t imagine life without any one of them,” Pitt said. “There’s just something that happens.”
They go everywhere their parent’s work takes them.
“Listen, I admit there’s times like, ‘We gotta get up. Get up! Here’s your shoes. Here’s your shoes. Drink this Coke. Drink this Coca Cola. Drink it all. Right now! Drink it! Drink it! Drink it! Just so we could get ’em up and going,” Pitt said.
And travel-weary or not, they seem very aware their parents aren’t married – yet.
“We’re getting a lot of pressure from the kids,” Pitt noted. “Yeah, it means something to them and they’re, you know, they have questions when their friends’ parents are married and why is that?”
“So what do you tell them?” Cowan asked.
“We will someday, we will: ‘That’s a great idea! Get mommy a ring! Okay, I will, I will.'”
“Do they have a sense of you and Angelina are as famous as you are? I mean, do they get that?”
“They know that mommy and daddy work in films and stories,” said Pitt.
But of the paparazzi? “Well, you know, they think everyone has to deal with that. Four of mine aren’t bothered by it, two of them are. They just don’t like it. Don’t like it.”
“How do you deal with that, though?” asked Cowan. “I mean, really deal with it because you deal with it on a scale that other people can’t even imagine.”
“When it first hit, it was very discombobulating and I would, would repel from it. And now I see it as, as something that can be used for good things.”
One of those good things is his non-profit work in New Orleans, where he’s helping rebuild the Lower 9th Ward in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“What made me so angry was this idea that ‘It was an act of God,'” he said. “That if you lived on the coast, ‘That’s what happens.’ And it wasn’t. It was a failure of man. And a lot of people died. And for me there’s a responsibility to make it right.”
His Make It Right Foundation has replaced some homes that were lost, with solar-powered alternatives that create more energy that the occupants use, redefining low income housing.
His good friend George Clooney used the Golden Globes to highlight Pitt’s good deeds – and there are plenty more of those red carpet award shows to go, which has Pitt busier than ever.
“It is fun for you?” Cowan asked.
“It IS fun, it’s, it’s …”
The word Pitt’s looking for is: long.
“I would prefer if we could do it on one weekend, instead of three months or two months, whatever it is,” Pitt replied. “I think it should be, like the 24-hour Le Mans. Like we just run ’em all back-to-back, go into the broadcasts, Golden Globes, SAG, and 24 hours later at the end, have the Oscars, and last man standing takes it all!”
Source: CBS News