Last night, Film Independent hosted A Conversation with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to discuss their Best Picture-nominated film Moneyball. The actors have both earned Academy Award nominations for their work (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively), and were joined on stage by Billy Beane, the real-life inspiration for Pitt's character, before they screened the film to a packed crowd.
(As usual with these events, they didn't allow recording, so check FilmIndependent.org for their own video that will probably be posted within the next few days.)
Curator Elvis Mitchell asked Jonah Hill about his role, which was based on a real person but changed to a fictional character for the movie. Here's what Hill had to say:
Playing someone real would be really terrifying for me. The amount I feel I would owe them in my performance, and that might affect you performance in certain ways because you might make certain choices going, “oh, well that's a bold choice, but I don't want to upset this person who has a real life...I would be terrified if someone was hired to portray me in a movie.
Billy Beane talked about the differences between Michael Lewis' book (on which the film is based) and the final product of the movie itself, saying he appreciated how the film "personalized" him a bit more instead of portraying him as just a "business commando." He also sheepishly admitted to some of the rages he would go into that provided inspiration for Pitt's occasional on-screen interpretation of those events, blaming his work environment - he's the general manager for the Oakland Athletics, in case you haven't seen the movie - and calling it a "testosterone jungle."
As to be expected, Jonah Hill was funny and charming on stage. After Pitt said that All The President's Men is one of his "top five favorite films ever," Hill interrupted Pitt's answer to speed things along, claiming that the audience had places to be and that Pitt was taking too long to answer the question. Pitt's took a good-natured shot at his co-star before finishing his response:
The point being, my 27-year-old friend, is that not one guy could have made this happen. Woodward couldn't have done it on his own, and Bernstein couldn't have done it on his own. They were two opposites that came together and helped make this amazing moment in history. We equated that with the Pete and Billy in our film in the same way.
The two joked back and forth about their dynamic in the movie, with Pitt lamenting a fictional love scene being cut from the movie, a sequence Hill claimed was actually 90 minutes long. And Pitt was having a good time as well, as evidenced when he answered a question about the themes of the film:
I think at its heart, it's a justice story. It's a story about value. What is success, and what is failure, and how we get devalued by the system...what these guys did at that time was by sheer necessity, and asking big questions. “Why do we do what we do? Just because we've been doing it for so long, does that make it right?” Like, why do we have Daylight Saving's Time? Can anyone tell me? It's a pain in the ass.