Eye on the Oscars: The Actor - Brad Pitt in 'Moneyball'

A reviewer this fall described Brad Pitt’s low-key portrayal of a maverick baseball executive in “Moneyball” as the “quintessential” Pitt performance.

The film’s director doesn’t quite see it that way.

“I actually think that Brad is known for a different kind of performance than he gives in this film,” says helmer Bennett Miller. “When you say quintessential, my mind goes to more charactery, dazzling, high-wattage, star-power roles. You know, BRAD PITT! on the marquee.

“And to me this is a far more nuanced and complex performance that reveals more than it layers on. It’s far more restrained than I think we’re accustomed.”

On the other hand, Miller notes in regard to his twice Oscar-nominated star, “I think this performance gets more to the heart of who he actually is. He used the role and used this character as a way to channel perhaps more of himself than we’ve ever seen before in a role. In that way, perhaps, you could say it’s quintessentially him.”

Pitt plays Billy Beane, the real-life Oakland Athletics general manager and failed Major League prospect whose revolutionary approach to evaluating baseball talent turned the sport on its head a decade ago.

“I think there’s a complexity to this character that Brad was able to relate to,” says Miller, whose only previous feature, 2005’s “Capote,” yielded a lead actor Oscar win for Philip Seymour Hoffman. “Billy Beane is somebody who came to challenge the conventional thinking and the conventions of his time and his world. I think that’s something Brad felt passionately about.”

Sports Illustrated noted that Pitt “clearly had a blast” playing Beane, whose methods help buoy an impoverished team.

Again, Miller begs to differ.

“I don’t know that I would use the word blast,” the director says. “From the moment I met Brad, it was clear that he was passionate and determined to play this part and get this movie made.

“I think that the whole venture was very personal to him and in a way vital, so I think there was a fulfillment that came with the work.”

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