Jonah Hill is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. He is famous for his comical personality and riotous roles, including his character Seth in the acclaimed hit “Superbad.”
But this year the 27-year-old actor steps into a different light of the movie industry, co-starring with Brad Pitt in “Moneyball,” the upcoming sport drama based on the true story of Paul DePodesta.
Hill plays the character Peter Brand, a Yale economics major hired by Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to help rebuild the small-market baseball team, the Oakland Athletics.
Beane, the general manager of the team and a would-be baseball superstar, has the task of replacing the star players they lost to big-market teams for higher salaries.
With Beane’s competitive drive plus Brand’s knowledge and passion for statistics, the duo put together a team of baseball players overlooked by everyone else in the sports league.
Beane and Brand’s decision to put together a team based on re-examination and statistical analysis leaves almost everyone but themselves questioning their stance on the game of baseball.
Hill’s character in “Moneyball” is one of his two more dramatic and serious roles, including “Cyrus” where he gets the chance to break the “funny guy” typecast.
When Hill was cast for the film, he explained that a lot of sports writers thought his involvement with the character, re-named Peter Brand, was a disgrace: Hill looks nothing like, nor acts like, the real life Paul DePodesta.
“Through this experience, I think that sports writers tend to be a lot more harsh than film critics because they are so passionate about what they’re talking about,” Hill said.
After seeing the film, many of those sports writers have expressed to Hill that they really enjoyed everything, especially the way in which he portrayed the character.
Hill said it feels amazing to shift someone’s expectations of what they thought they were going to see.
The expectations that Hill will constantly be making the audience members laugh is still there.
However, moviegoers can continue to be impressed with the simple way in which the polite Peter Brand still manages to contribute some comic relief in “Moneyball.”
“I am intentionally doing movies that are diversifying who I am,” Hill said. “I think it is easy to put someone in a box and label them as something.”
Hill said he was excited about his opportunities and the chance to shed light on his ability to be a well-rounded, diversified actor.
“My first big introduction into the world was “Superbad,” and it really made a big splash when it came out, so since then I have been regarded as that character,” Hill said. “But that’s not who I am.”
Hill has grown up in front of the world, but has hopes that everyone will accept his desire and action to do both drama and comedy, he said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an actor to star alongside Brad Pitt,” Hill said. “The whole thing has and does still feel like a dream.”
Hill said he is humbled by the whole experience.
On paper, the idea of “Moneyball” is “baseball statistics,” but it is actually “exciting, remarkable, moving, intense, sad, funny, honest and dark all at the same time,” Hill said.
“The filmmakers used baseball as a beautiful aesthetic backdrop to tell a really moving story about underdogs and value, and more specifically being undervalued,” Hill said.
“Moneyball” hits theaters Sept. 23.