It stands to reason that Moneyball, a dramatic film about taking second chances on unproven talent, would cast a comedic performer opposite Brad Pitt. Having long been branded the master of deadpan in Judd Apatow’s canon, Jonah Hill aimed for the bleachers and lobbied for the role (after Demetri Martin fell out) of Oakland A’s stat-head Peter Brand, who persuades Pitt’s general manager Billy Beane to radically change his ways in Sony’s feature take on Michael Lewis’ novel. It was a natural progression in range for Hill, who had already shown a fierce literal side as the mama’s boy in 2010’s Cyrus. He spoke recently with AwardsLine contributor Anthony D’Alessandro.
AWARDSLINE: As a comedy actor, did you face any challenges from the director or studio heads over your capability to play drama?
HILL: I didn’t audition. I showed Bennett [Miller] Cyrus before it came out and that’s what they cast me from. You know I was at the bottom of a list of actors who weren’t known for their dramatic work. I knew Bennett socially and he knew I was eager to break out of whatever box I was in. As a respected filmmaker he wanted to make an unsuspecting choice. And [Sony Pictures co-chairman] Amy Pascal and I had a really great relationship coming off of Superbad. She knew I was trying to do more dramatic work. Regarding those comedic performers who segue to drama; out of my generation I think I made the most effort do both. If you think of my last two films last year, Cyrus and Get Him To The Greek come out a month apart and now I have Moneyball and The Sitter coming out about a month apart [almost three, actually]. Those two films two years in a row are completely unrecognizable and that’s the career I strive to have. (more…)